By David Hopkins

I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news told to me last month by an old Cincinnati Bearcat buddy who was yucking it up hilariously on the phone.

He laughed aloud when he told me that the University of Tennessee had canceled its 2022 home football game with Army and replaced it with the Mighty Zips of Akron. Yeah right, I replied, thinking my buddy was just full of brio and bluster (and other unmentionable stuff too) because the Bearcats were now ranked in college football’s Top 10. No way the renown Tennessee Vols from the powerful SEC, college football’s best conference, would duck Army or any other team for that matter. It had to be a joke, right?

Ooops. As College Game Day’s veteran analyst, Lee Corso, might say: “Not so fast, my Friend.”

I discovered, to my dismay, it IS true. The joke is no joke at all. The University of Tennessee HAS dropped Army from its 2022 schedule, and honestly, I can’t think of a more embarrassing and utterly dishonorable move by this university.

Is This Big Orange or Just A Little Yellow?

This game had all the earmarkings of a nationally-prominent contest that very well could have restored some badly-needed prestige and notoriety to Tennessee’s lackluster football program. The Army Black Knights were, and are, a perfect opponent, a foe of resplendent honor and valor with FIVE former National Championships, especially when considering that the 2022 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention will be held in Knoxville that week. Keep in mind that the Medal of Honor for gallantry is the highest military award of our country. The recipients of the award are bonafide American heroes. These Medal of Honor recipients would have been recognized at the Army-Tennessee game at Neyland Stadium, and it would have been a proud and inspiring ceremony, and certainly a huge national TV draw. There is a good likelihood ESPN would have held its “College Game Day” telecast on campus.

And……’s ARMY!!

Now , I have to say, that might not hold much cache for the increasingly Woke confluence of students and “teachers” on campus who seem to be lacking the perspicacity and good common sense to recognize the importance of military service in this country, but it sure still means something special to the the legions of older Vol fans along with its many Veterans who love the Vols and attend its games.

Tennessee, which hasn’t produced a winning season since 2016, generally welcomes the opportunity to embrace red-white-and blue patriotism at its games. Army Black Hawk helicopters perform spectacular shows over Neyland Stadium, thrilling and inspiring its huge crowds. Patriotism and support for our military are keystone components of life around Knoxville.

But, instead of honoring its contract to play a service academy in a high-profile game, Tennessee broke weak and dropped Army like a fizzling hand-grenade.

The Bag Won’t Come Off Anytime Soon

Why would the Volunteer Athletic Department do this, you ask?

Anyone who genuinely knows college football can name THAT tune in about one note.

The Tennessee Vols are SCARED to play Army.

The Army football team, unlike Akron, isn’t a cupcake by any stretch. In fact, they’re a beast. A tough, potent triple-option team that racks up around 300 yards on the ground every game and executes the type of hardcore blocking that punishes defenses and takes the steam out of many opposing players by the the fourth quarter. I’ve watched Army play at this level for a few years now, and obviously, so has Tennessee. Combine that with the fact that the Vols have Florida on the schedule the week following the now-canceled Army game and you begin to see the picture more clearly………

Since the Tennessee Athletic Department never offered a specific reason for dropping Army, there has been talk around Knoxville and my little burg of Loudon that maybe the Vols canceled the game because the campus is so Woke and so overrun with social justice Kneelers and burgeoning Socialists that hosting a famous military academy like Army is a tad unpopular on Rocky Top , but, that’s not it at all. I prefer to take the Howard Cossell approach and just “Tell it like it is”………..

Simply put, the Vols are scared to play Army. No two ways about it. They are scared they might get roughed up and get their feelings hurt. They don’t want to limp into the Florida game all tired and beat up and dispirited and get blown out any worse than they will otherwise. The Orange has faded into a kind of chickendoody yellow. They are weak and cowardly.

Army? HELL No!!!

Dishonorable? Disgusting? Ignoble? You bet.

It’s the kind of classless move that would make General Robert Neyland roll over in his grave.

Army would have been a great game to watch, a spectacular clash of two legendary programs , and from my reading they’re not too happy about Tennessee’s panicky move over at West Point because, for one thing, the Black Knights program was going to get 1.4 million for that game. I’d be a little perturbed, too, to get hosed out of a cool 1.4 mil for the pleasure of marching over to Knoxville and to beat up on the Vols for a couple of hours. But, for Army, it shouldn’t be any biggie. The following season they have LSU on the schedule, and if you think the Tigers are going to chicken out, well, I’ve got some beautiful prime property on the bayou to sell you really cheap.

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David Hopkins

Retired journalist and health club Administrator. Sports and Entertainment blogger with an eye on American politics.

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