Here’s another sports update.
Well, the regular college football season is over. Tennessee finished strong to finish with a 6-6 record, good enough to make a bowl. This is big, because we haven’t been to a bowl in four years. This year we’re going to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, against Iowa, a tough opponent. I can remember playing them in previous bowls and going 1-1 against them, I think. We’ve been bad for too long. We used to be great. We used to have 10 win seasons consistently and in 1998, we won the national championship against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. I was there for that game. It was awesome. Those were our glory days. We’ve won six national championships and have had some other great seasons, but for some reason we’ve fallen on hard times. However, we have a new second year coach — Butch Jones — who seems good, has gotten some excellent recruits, and seems on the right path. We’ve played 23 freshmen this year, more than any other team, so we’ll have experience in coming years. Next year, I expect us to win 8-9 games and challenge for the SEC East.
UT is now also in the middle of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. The men’s team lost most of its players from last year and has only one decent player and a bunch of new ones. So far, we’re 3-3. The Lady Vols have been decent, but not great, and are ranked 11th in the country so far.
Meanwhile, my Steelers have had a schizophrenic year. They’re 8-5 and in the middle of the wild card race for the playoffs. They just had a great win against division leading Cincy. The problem is, we play great against the best teams and have gotten beat by some of the worst teams in the league, teams we should easily pound, like Tampa Bay. It’s been really frustrating. Still, some of our players are having outstanding years. Career years. Ben Roethlisberger has passed for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He became the second player in league history to have two 500 yard passing games in the same season. Second year running back Le’Veon Bell has rushed for over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns and with his receiving totals, has nearly 2,000 yards, which is outstanding. Last week, he became the second player in league history, joining Walter Payton, to have three consecutive 200 yard games. And wide receiver Antonio Brown has 105 catches for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which lead the league. In fact, Brown is the leading receiver, Bell is the second leading rusher and Big Ben is the fourth ranked quarterback. All of this is really exciting and I hope they all make the Pro Bowl, because they really deserve it.
Additionally, my Pittsburgh Penguins are having an excellent year. They’re 18-6-3 and leading their division. Sidney Crosby is second in the league in scoring, after leading the league last year. Evgeni Malkin is fourth in the league in scoring. And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is fourth in the league in wins and is having perhaps his best season with a great goals against average of about 2.07. That’s awesome for him because he’s taken a lot of criticism over the past few years for fading in the playoffs, even after helping the team win the Stanley Cup a few years ago. Even though we make the playoffs every year, we haven’t been to the Stanley Cup in five years, so I’m hoping this year we can do it. One of the problems, however, is we have tons of injuries. We’ve lost so many players to injuries that it seems these three great players are playing with all minor league players surrounding them. It’s amazing we can win any games at all. Hopefully we’ll get some players back soon because this has been ridiculous.
I guess that’s about it. I’m happy UT has made a bowl and hope we win. I’m hoping the Steelers make the playoffs and then anything can happen. A Super Bowl would be awesome. And the Penguins will go all the way to the Stanley Cup again, barring continuing injury problems. A good fall. Here’s to a good winter.