Tennessee SEC enemy No. 1 after baseball team poses in Gators helmets | David Whitley

David Whitley
Gator Sports
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It’s fitting that Tennessee’s baseball team wears mink. It makes the rest of the SEC want to act like PETA members and splatter red paint all over the coat.

Florida fans have that urge after this past weekend’s series. The top-ranked Vols swept the Gators. Then they went to The Swamp for post-game showers and found some UF football helmets. Naturally, they put them on, took some pictures and posted them on social media.

It was like stealing a king’s crown.

“You Shall Reap What You Sow,” tweeted UF linebacker Chief Borders (it was later deleted).

Part 1 of interview:Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin delves into Gators sports: 'It has been an eventful year'

Part 2:Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin says college sports is in a 'beautiful mess'

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It was standard operating procedure for the Vols. They are ranked No. 1 and don’t mind flaunting it. Witness the fake-fur “pimp” coat a player gets to wear after hitting a home run.

That violates about 18 of baseball’s unwritten rules, but the cockiness extends beyond the diamond. Tennessee’s teams have developed a reputation as the most chirpy and confrontational in the league.

So what does the Head Ball Coach say about it?

While all fan bases have their lunatic fringes, Neyland Stadium almost turned into a crime scene last year when the home crowd rained debris and a golf ball down on Lane Kiffin.

What gives?

My Freudian diagnosis is overcompensation. UT has had a rough few decades. Now it’s getting a whiff of success and thinks it’s Alabama football.

But if anyone understands the Vol mentality, it’s Steve Spurrier, who’s been living rent-free inside Tennessee fans’ heads for 30 years.

I called him Monday, hoping he’d add a little verbal gasoline to this SEC brushfire. Why is his home-state school so cocky?

“If they want to wear the helmets and do that other stuff…” he said.

Then his voice trailed off. Spurrier mused about the games he had against Phil Fulmer, and how UT fans would almost dislocate their shoulders mocking the Gator Chomp.

“That was part of the game,” he said. “It didn’t bother me.”

The moral of our story — If you feel like splattering paint on the nearest Tennessee fan, relax.

Florida’s had 21 teams win NCAA titles in the past 12 years. That’s approximately 21 more than Tennessee.

So let Vol Nation enjoy its pimping. When it comes to wearing crowns, Tennessee still has to borrow headgear from other schools. ... 

Tennessee’s Trey Lipscomb (21) wears a “Daddy” hat and fur coat after hitting a home run during Tennessee baseball’s opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, Feb. 18, 2022.

Stud of the Week: Tyler Zombro. The Rays minor-league pitcher threw one scoreless inning for Durham Sunday. It was his first appearance since getting hit in the head with a line drive last summer. Doctors had to install 16 plates and 32 screws in his head.

A Florida world record holder: Chihuahua TobyKeith

Stud II:TobyKeith. Guinness World Records recognized the Florida chihuahua as the world’s oldest dog. He’s 21 years, 106 days old as of Monday. TobyKeith attributed his longevity to not smoking and enrolling in Tom Brady’s TB12 diet program.

Dud of the Week: Wimbledon, for banning Russian and Belarussian players from this year’s tournament. If Vladimir Putin were in the draw, okay. But this is like Fed-Ex firing all delivery drivers who happened to be born in Moscow.

Dud II: The Cincinnati Reds, for telling fans they aren’t allowed to wear paper bags over their heads. CDC guidelines require fans to mask up if they get within 60 feet of a team with a .188 winning percentage. ... 

The Oakland A’s have a cut-rate payroll and play in what most polls say is baseball’s second-worst stadium. That’s one reason why they drew 2,703 fans for a game against Baltimore last week.

But fear not, the Oakland Coliseum has become home to about 50 to 100 feral cats. And in a classic California move, officials announced last week the homeless felines will be gathered up, spayed and neutered, then returned to the stadium.

A spokesperson for the cats said they plan on boycotting games unless they are allowed to wear bags over their heads. ...

Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz pumped $10,000 worth of free gas for motorists in St. Louis last week. Unfortunately, that only filled up about 18 cars. ...

Steve Spurrier weighs in on USFL

The USFL, which is playing all its games in Birmingham this season, did not announce attendance at this past weekend’s games. From the looks of things, about 194 people attended Saturday’s “Pittsburgh” vs. “Philadelphia” game.

“You’ve got to have fans in the stands,” said Spurrier, who coached the original Tampa Bay Bandits, who actually played in Tampa. “There are just eight teams out there with different names and logos on the sides of their helmets.”

In related news, the USFL announced Monday it will start letting feral cats into games for free. ...

The Tampa Bay Lightning visited the White House Monday to celebrate their back-to-back NHL championships. Russian players Mikhail Sergachev and Nikita Kucherov were allowed to attend, and President Joe Biden didn’t attempt to pronounce either of their names. ...

Ceasars posted its way-too-early opening weekend college football odds last week. Florida vs. Utah is a pick-em. LSU is a 3.5-point favorite over Alabama and TobyKeith is favored to live another 149 dog years, which might be long enough to see Tennessee win a national championship. ...

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. We’ll try again next week unless Volunteers fans sick a herd of feral cats on me.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley.

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