RICHMOND, Va. – Life is rough for Tennessee football fans right now, and the Volunteers’ 34-3 loss to Florida on Saturday is only a small part of their misery.
Tennessee is now 1-3 this season with losses to Georgia State and BYU in double-overtime in the first two weeks. Last week, Jeremy Pruitt, in his second year as the head coach, led the team to a shutout win against Chattanooga, but Vols fans are looking for a little bit more than that.
Count NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. among the many frustrated Tennessee fans, and he vented his feelings about his team Saturday before competing in a night race at Richmond Raceway.
“We’re terrible,” Wallace told For The Win, admitting he’s not an expert, but he’s a big enough fan to recognize when things aren’t going well.
“I’ve turned into one of those fans that’s an angry fan who wants to see us win! And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good Vols win.”
NASCAR competes from February to November, so with busy race weekends during football season, he can’t watch every game. But he said he watches plenty, and when he does, “It’s, ugh, jeez, it’s still not good enough.”
About quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who threw for just 107 yards and two interceptions, Wallace tweeted:
Closing his mini-Twitter rant against Tennessee on Saturday, Wallace posted a photo of himself in a shirt with “You’re killin’ me, Vols” written on the front – a reference to the famous line from The Sandlot, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.”
Wallace said a fan sent it to him, and he was pumped when he received it on the plane Thursday on his way to the Richmond short track. He loves the shirt but wishes it wasn’t so perfectly accurate.
Games like Tennessee’s 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma in 2015 are still with him. The then-No. 23 Vols jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the No. 19 Sooners came back for the overtime win.
That game is an example for him of the Vols keeping themselves from winning. They finished 5-7 last season and 4-8 in 2017 when they didn’t win a single SEC game.
“Even with my busy schedule, I’ve been able to go to some big games, and I don’t know if I’ve been able to see a win at home,” Wallace said.
“Oklahoma [four] years ago when it went into overtime and we ended up losing, and it’s like, we had that game won! We just make a lot of mistakes on ourselves that take us out of contention.”
And his criticism is simply because he wants his team to play better.
“At the end of the day, I still love my Vols from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “Obviously I still bleed orange. But, woo, it’s starting to hurt a little bit. It is tough to watch. But you stick through it, thick and thin.”
Talking to Wallace on pit road before Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, we had to ask him about this ridiculous bowling video he posted on Twitter. He said the idea for the shot randomly came to him, and it was perfect on his first try.
In awe of himself, he said he tried the shot multiple times since first nailing it, and the ball hit the gutter every other time.
He said he also did a “granny shot between the legs” that was a strike too, joking that his “trick shot resume is going up.”