Vanderbilt-Tennessee Rivalry Grows More Intense After Jennings Incident

Greg Arias

The Vanderbilt Commodores haven't been much of a rival to the Tennessee Volunteers on the football field in the history of their existances inside the same state, at least for the majority of fans today who were not alive from 1802-1926 when Vanderbilt dominated the series. 

That was until the last decade where the Commodores have won five of the last ten and three in a row prior to last Saturday's UT win in Knoxville.

Vanderbilt has always disliked their cross state rivals, with some taking it more seriously  because the Volunteers have dominated the series over the lifetime of most fans today. 

On the other side, the Volunteer fans, until recently didn't dislike the Commodores so much because they were the "loveable losers" who their team owned and used as easy late season wins.   

That's no longer the case for the orange clad contingent. Three in a row and five of the last ten have made their fans a little salty and have managed to move the Commodores up the rivals ladder a few rungs in Knoxville and around the state. 

Isn't it amazing how that happens in sports when the underdog finally wins a few. 

Saturday night, late in the Vols 28-10 win, UT senior receiver and Murfreesboro native Juwan Jennings made a tackle on special teams on Vanderbilt returner Justice Shelton-Mosley on the UT sideline. 

https://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/28197608

The hit was very close to the sidelines and could have been flagged, but I have no problem with there being none here because Jennings left his feet to make the tackle. It was a close play with only the intent-at that time- to make the tackle, and a judgement call for officials.  

The two slid on the sideline tarps well off the field of play and into the UT team equipment on the sidelines. This is where I feel Jennings stepped over the line. 

In watching the video multiple times, in my opinion Jennings, who was clearly on top of Shelton-Mosely began wrestling with the player who was under him and holding a football in one arm. 

What made the scuffling neessary?

Nothing I can see, unless Shelton-Mosley- a Harvard transfer with no known history of interaction with Jennings- said something personal while being knocked down, sliding across the tarp and coming to rest with a 220 pound individual and a football on him. 

Also, to me it seems evident that Jennings both pulled the helmet off his opponent, then pushed his head down before stepping on him. 

The step is obvious and not debateable, but Jennings intent isn't and I'm not willing to say that he intentionally stepped on Shelton-Mosley bacause I have no way to know that without doubt.        

However, I do think from Jennings shoving his helmet-less head down to a spot. From that one could make a case he knew where his head was when he stepped on him as he (Jennings) was being pulled from the scene. 

Le me also make clear that this is not a UT things. Had it have been any other Volunteer player without a history I would give every bit of doubt to them. I can't get there with Jennings. 

Regardless of your feelings, the reactions, comments and back and fourth between the two fan bases is growing in rancor over this one. 

Looks like it's finally become a rivalry where both teams dislike the other. 

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