Even if you don’t believe in it, covering your bases superstitiously is never a bad idea. Tennessee football has decided to throw that out the window for when they face the Florida Gators Saturday, and that may not be a good idea for them.
The Vols revealed their uniform choice for their matchup. They are going with the standard look, the orange jerseys with the white pants. Here’s the problem: Checker Neyland is also in play for the matchup, and yes, that’s a curse.
Believe it or not, Tennessee football has never won a Checker Neyland game without wearing their Smokey Greys. Danny White is supposed to bring those back this year, so he should’ve used them for this game. The Vols revealed their uniform combination on Twitter Wednesday.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) September 21, 2022
Ironically, the win in the Smokey Grays with Checker Neyland is the one time the Vols actually beat Florida the past 17 years, back in 2016. It’s also the last time College GameDay was in Knoxville and UT was favored. Why go all out with these traditions but stop at the uniforms?
Every other Checker Neyland game was a loss, including last year, when UT brought it back only to lose at home to Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels. However, when it was in use before, under Butch Jones, it resulted in some heartbreaking losses.
In fact, the first time the Vols did Checker Neyland was 2014, and they blew a 9-0 lead to Florida and Will Muschamp to lose 10-9 in a battle of two awful offenses. The next year they did it, they blew a 17-0 lead to the Oklahoma Sooners, losing in overtime.
Heck, before football ever did it, men’s basketball did Checker Thompson-Boling Arena in 2006. They lost that game at home to an unranked Kentucky Wildcats team. Every time they have tried it in any sport, they seem to lose. Only in 2016 did it work, and it was because they brought out the Smokey Greys.
Now, it’s fair to point out how the Smokey Grays and Checker Neyland together were last used when the Vols lost to the Georgia 41-0 at home in 2017. However, that was the worst team in UT history, and it was one of the best teams in Georgia history. The program was collapsing under Butch Jones then.
As a result, you can’t fully go by what happened there. What you can go by is the Curse of Checker Neyland and the Curse of the Vols whenever they face Florida. Danny White has those two things out together, now, and superstitiously, he doesn’t have the variable to offset it.
Maybe this is his and Josh Heupel’s way of keeping the superstitious thought out of it. There’s a possibility that such thinking could lead to more anxiety among the players, and they really want to treat it like any other week with just a few added traditions.
No matter how you treat it, though, it’s not like any other week. Tennessee football is facing Florida, and these are the type of games where they have to be superstitious. Anyone who has followed the series the past three decades can’t think any differently.