Greeson: High times for high-ranked Vols, fans

Tennessee Athletics photo by Andrew Ferguson / Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel, shown celebrating after the 38-33 home win over Florida on Sept. 24, will take the Volunteers to LSU this weekend for their first game in Baton Rouge since 2010.

There are special times in sports when everything clicks.

It can happen when your best player is also your hardest worker.

It can happen when you get healthy and stay healthy and progress beyond the expectations of others.

It can happen when the confidence meets talent and the inertia works two-fold in all the right directions.

And when it happens for your college football team, it's magical.

You want to read every article, watch every highlight show, refresh social media to see when the next poll will be released.

And every UT fan you know right now is basking in it.

It does not take a Bill Belichick film session to see everything is clicking in Year 2 for Josh Heupel and the Vols. The offense has been flying since August. The defense is getting better every week. Heck, even partially blocked field goals are finding their way through since-torn-down goal posts.

And the wave of emotion has consumed everyone from Maryville to Memphis.

As well it should, too. And this is not as much about the 15-plus years of frustration filled with Butchisms and 24 guys on the field at LSU or worrying about Vandy or all the rest as most may think.

This is the here and the now. It is like a great birthday present from a distant relative and this one is headed into its third month now.

UT fans should -- must -- enjoy this spectacular fall run to No. 2 in the polls with a date at top-ranked Georgia looming Saturday because they simply do not happen very often.

Even at places like Alabama, which has made winning become so commonplace that even close games feel like losses over the last decade, magical runs like this one are rare.

Because this run is not as much about the winning as it is a reminder of why we loved sports in the first place.

For Vols fans, this is an immersion in magical waters of football nirvana, an expectaion of the best and then getting it delivered, and a blissful feeling of being bulletproof.

It's part of the tumblers clicking when little is expected outside of the locker room and a special -- and likable -- team brings its fans on a fall they will never forget. As great as UT was under Manning, Martin and Fulmer from 1997 to 2001, the improbable excellence Big Orange fans have seen this autumn is surreal.

It happened in Auburn in 2010. And at LSU in 2019. Those runs ended with blissful national championships and the following years carried greater expectations, intensified pressure and the inevitable disappointment that every non-Saban (or even non-Kibry Smart) program ultimately experiences.

Could a national title be in the works in Knoxville? Of course it could, even with a loss Saturday.

No matter how it ends, though, here's hoping UT faithful embrace the joy of this run.

Contact Jay Greeson at