Originally written on Checkerboard Chatter  |  Last updated 8/28/12

78 hours.

That’s the amount of time that separates us (this column) from “Football Time in Tennessee.” 78 hours until your doubts, fears, hopes, or expectations either manifest or subside.

78 hours until a day of reckoning of sorts for Derek Dooley. He’s been provided with the rope, so now he has 78 hours to decide whether or not he’s going to climb his way out or hang himself. Better start climbing, Derek.

78 hours to make the decision: Go for broke and head for Atlanta with a pocket full of cash and a cooler full Natty Light, or batten down the hatches and open your home to the whiskey-swilling, football-loving Tennessee fans you call your friends? With any luck, either way, a few hours later you’ll all be howling at the moon (Yes!!! Wolfpack pun.)



Last night, as I worked into the early hours of the morning putting the finishing touches on a Lane Kiffin smash piece (a time-honored tradition since 2010 for Tennessee fans) that I’ve sold to ChicagoSideSports.com, and an 1,100-word feature on a one-out single that happened in a World Series loss nearly 44 years for GO Magazine, I was consumed by time.

It happens every year. As my biological clock becomes more acutely aware that football season is bearing down upon us, far-off thoughts typically reserved for what color Aston Martin I’d like to own or how many cats I think the Phyllis Diller (RIP) look-alike who works at the mall kiosk has are replaced by route combinations and gap responsibilities. Meanwhile, the countdown continues to run congruently in my head.

“Dear Lane Kiffin, Alshon Jeffery wishes you a sincere apology for making you look like a *******.”

91 hours.

“Spiezio’s one-out single brought two of baseball’s most legendary names up to the plate and into the on deck circle for the Cardinals, Roger Maris and Lou Brock.”

88 hours.

It’s an obsession that dates back to well before I fell in love with the University of Tennessee during a visit my senior year of high school, but it’s taken on an entirely new significance since then. High school football season is my bread and butter in terms of paying work, and yet, on a Friday night during Week Two of high school football season here in Illinois, I’ll be planted in front of a television.

What’s that? My high school alma-mater (a historical power in the state of IL) takes on another traditional state power two miles from my home? You’ll pay me to be there? When is that? 78 hours? Pshhh… I can’t be bothered with such trifles.

There’s 78 hours until the Vols tee it up against North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome on ESPNU. Roughly 24 hours later, in the depths of Soldier Field I’ll be peppering Kirk Ferentz and Dave Doeren with questions about God only knows what. I’ve got to do a 1,500 word takeout piece on Iowa playing Northern Illinois in Chicago and I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m even going to write about yet.

That will all have to sort itself out. I can’t concern myself with anything further than 78 hours out.

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