Stop scoring, enough is enough – or maybe not.
With all the power vested in me, I hereby grant Rick Neuheisel full authority to have his very own opinion regarding running up college football scores.
Neuheisel is an attorney, a former football coach (who once absorbed a 59-0 thrashing at BYU) and a current CBS TV analyst who took issue with how Tennessee closed out the mauling of Missouri on Saturday past.
Neuheisel advocated a pause that refreshes, the so-called “victory formation,” a kneel-down inside a tight cluster to run out the clock and hold the score at 59 instead of racking up one more touchdown to make it 66.
Truth be told, Rick didn’t like the 58-yard bomb Joe Milton dropped on Squirrel White two plays previously. The celebrity got paid a second time on Monday at the Knoxville Quarterback Club to double down on his position. He said Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz will remember how he was treated. He implied that the worm will sometime turn.
Drinkwitz didn’t say anything better than “I got no issues with their football team. It’s our job to stop them. Josh Heupel coaches his team and I coach mine.”
That was good news. Tennessee decided against stopping itself.
At the risk of hurting more feelings, let us explore this sweet sympathy for the Missouri Tigers. The mythical mercy rule, just stop scoring, is part of the happiness of church league softball. Ten runs ahead after five innings is the signal to go for lemonade.
It is a gesture of goodwill, congratulations and a hug. Don’t rub in defeat.
Fundamentals of big-time college football are a bit more crusty. The game is somewhat civilized war. In pursuit of first downs and touchdowns, 320-pound battering rams try to knock back, beat up, overwhelm and discourage opposing linemen and linebackers who get too close. Life is tough in the trenches.
The payoff depends on strength, quickness, fierceness, fundamentals and determination. There are few constraints. Somewhat fair play exists but thank God for officials.
I have always found it strange that “taking a knee” shortens the contest for losers. Really tough guys resent charity.
Winning college football teams have no obligation to help losers feel better – especially if the good guys are in wishful pursuit of the national playoff, the Heisman Trophy and the Biletnikoff Award.
Heupel, Henton Hooker and Jalin Hyatt have no way of knowing whether margin of victory enhances their chances. Why miss a maybe? Just in case, they gave the Tigers more than they could handle.
Hooker and Hyatt had been replaced by reserves before Neuheisel got seriously involved. Other regulars were at rest.
Heupel didn’t call for the long pass play but I have an idea who did. Heupel didn’t call the 2-yard power plunge by freshman Dylan Sampson that produced the points with 36 seconds remaining –but I can guess.
Tennessee football substitutes invest similar amounts of blood, sweat and tears (not just a figure of speech) as starters. You bet they want to play when they get an opportunity.
If a coach insists that they take a knee, well, the coach is boss but subs give him a questioning look.
This part is pure supposition. Back in the summer, on a national sports show, Drinkwitz was enjoying the sound of his voice. He was mocking Tennessee’s plight with fired coach Jeremy Pruitt. Drink had a really good time with how Casey Pruitt distributed money and gifts to prospective players and their relatives to help her husband recruit.
Drink said he didn’t know you could do that. His wife, Lindsey, is less help. She just speaks to prep stars.
The coach also joked that his record would improve if Tennessee had to forfeit the right one of Pruitt’s three victories from 2020.
The intensive, expensive and painful investigation and forthcoming NCAA penalty are no laughing matter in Big Orange Country.
The comedy gig may have never mattered. Or, some of those nine touchdowns could have been payback.
I have no clue why the Vols scored 62 against Drinkwitz last season. Maybe it was because they could.
Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is email@example.com.