A man willingly climbs into a large septic tank with nothing but a pair of waders two sizes too small and what appears to be an extended toilet brush. Without any sort of breathing apparatus, he’s overwhelmed by the toxic fumes and passes out. He’s lucky enough to have a co-worker fish him out, but it’s safe to say that he won’t exactly feel like he’s won the lottery when he wakes up smelling like the bathroom of a Mexican restaurant.

Two things immediately come to mind:

A) This man is an idiot.

B) We have to assume this man is a Tennessee fan.

I don’t mean to say that all Tennessee fans are idiots. However, being both an idiot and a Tennessee fan I think I can say with confidence that there are quite a few of us out there. Other than being an idiot though, there are a couple clear-cut indicators the man in question knows all the words to “Rocky Top.”

First of all, like the 2011 season, this man (whom I’ve made up for dramatic effect) was doomed from the start. Injuries and attrition zapped the life from the season before it even began, and the Vols, like the mythical man, just kept on pushing forward with reckless abandon.

Tennessee willingly dropped into their own version of a septic tank the third week of the season when they started SEC play, where SEC defenses are just as nasty and vile, and twice as likely to kill you. Two games into conference play, they’d lost the two best weapons left on their roster. A nation of orange-clad idiots passed out, overwhelmed by the stench.

These are all well-documented tragedies that may even be documented as unnatural disasters in East Tennessee. But, the seemingly unreasonable amount of bad karma didn’t stop between the lines or even on the practice fields. During the Cincinnati game, even Tennessee’s famed mascot Smokey, a blue-tick coonhound, succumbed to injury.

You almost can’t help but imagine that God-awful Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background this afternoon as Smokey underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL.

Unlike all those other chumps who missed time as the Vols sputtered to 5-7, including their first loss to Kentucky since 1984, Smokey played through the pain. He’s scheduled to make a full recovery, and even though far more people will be concerned with the status of Justin Hunter, a healthy and happy Smokey is still one step in the right direction as we point ourselves towards 2012.