It was 18 years ago when I accomplished the rare football trifecta of watching high school, college, and pro football games in person all on the same weekend. The year was 1999.
After seeing the Pioneers fall to Oakland on Friday night, Oct. 29, I traveled to Knoxville to see the Vols crush a Lou Holtz coached South Carolina team, 30-7.
I followed that with a Halloween trip to Nashville to see the Titans upset the undefeated Rams, known at the time as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
I still remember Titan DE Jevon Kearse telling the crowd of reporters gathered around his locker after the game, “You knew ‘The Freak’ was gonna come out on Halloween.”
Anyone brave enough to embark on such a football excursion this past weekend would have been immersed in three days of misery as the Pioneers, Vols and Titans all experienced a rather rough time on the gridiron. The three teams lost by a combined score of 160-14. That translates to an average score of 53.3 points allowed per game to 4.6 scored.
Chief among the developments coming from this weekend are the more intense cries for UT coach Butch Jones to lose his job. The most overpaid coach in the nation is now an unremarkable 14-20 in SEC play and 33-23 overall in his four-plus seasons on Rocky Top.
The problem with firing coach Jones is it would be very expensive. If you recall, after Jones and the Vols compiled a magical 7-5 season in 2014, the UT brass rewarded him with a two-year contract extension to 2020 and a raise that bumped his annual salary to nearly $3.6 million per season.
If Jones were to be fired today, he wouldn’t need a tissue because the university would owe him $9.2 million, according to Hero Sports. This for a guy who is 6-17 against Top 25 teams during his tenure at Tennessee.
In a day when everyone seems determined to ensure college athletes never make a dime off their talents, maybe there should be a cap on how much these state employees known as college coaches can earn. It’s completely unfitting an ordinary coach like Butch Jones is the highest paid state employee in Tennessee.
As for the pro football waters, the Titans found rough sailing in Houston during an ugly 57-14 blowout. The offense looked troubled, especially when QB Marcus Mariota left the game, but the glaring weakness was how the Titans defense allowed rookie QB Deshaun Watson to march up and down the field and barely put up a fight.
Even if Mariota isn’t able to play this week, the Titans need to beat the limping Dolphins, who are coming off a 20-0 shutout loss against the Saints.