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Tennessee football: Don’t Vol fans deserve a free Orange and White Game?

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It’s official. Tennessee football is back. The Vols have arrived once again and there’s no debate to the contrary.

Want proof? Just check out Tennessee’s decision to charge $5 per person to the Orange and White Game on April 15. The Vols aren’t worried about any public backlash. Why should they be? They just posted their first consecutive 10-game regular season of many, right? Too bad the last one occurred in 2007. Ah, details.

It takes an established, winning program to ask patrons, many of which can’t afford a game during the actual season in the fall, to show up and lay out some cash for what isn’t even a glorified scrimmage any longer. If the Tennessee spring game had a movie trailer, it would include a lot of no-name actors and boring outtakes. That’s just the way spring practice is.

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Many players that are proven will be held out of spring camp and the Orange and White game due to precautionary reasons if they have so much as a hangnail. There’s no reason to risk injury in April. There’s also no reason for Tennessee coach Josh Heupel to give any trade secrets away. Tennessee’s spring game will most likely make vanilla seem spicy.

Nevertheless, Tennessee is going to charge for a spring game for the first time since 2011. Why not? Tennessee was coming off of a 6-7 season in 2010 and all looked grand. Too bad the Vols finished the 2011 season with a 5-7 record and then fired former coach Derek Dooley. Perhaps the cost of the tickets for the spring game paid some of Dooley’s monstrous buyout.

Tennessee is in the midst of building an incredible amount of emotional equity. Fans have bought in. They shouldn’t have to buy a ticket to a spring game. I’m assuming concessions will still come with a price.

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The money will go to the general athletic department coffers, which means they’ll have better facilities that should help the Vols in recruiting and, subsequently, be better in the fall. However, the Vols are trying to raise money for the “My All” campaign, which has a lofty goal of $500 million. A whopping $5 per ticket to the spring game isn’t going to help much with that.

Fans are okay with being charged to the Orange and White Game per a recent Twitter poll by Off The Hook Sports. Charge for the spring game? Bring it on!

The reaction to the above poll question was a bit surprising. Most Tennessee fans are apparently fine with being charged for the Orange and White Game. To me, it’s a missed opportunity to make the day a free, “pack the house” event with 100,000 fans that national television would latch onto as a sign that the Vols are back. Apparently, they already are.

There will certainly be one aspect of the game that all Tennessee fans will want to see, the play of quarterbacks Joe Milton and Nico Iamaleava. There are a handful of storylines between those two players and that one position alone. However, even the most passionate fan may decide to save the five bucks, sit on their couch and hope that the Vols are more understanding of an inflationary climate in the future. Those are the fans that deserve a free spring game.

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