Before the Vols’ match-up with Southern Miss this past weekend in Neyland Stadium, some Vol fans tried to start an “Empty Neyland” movement on social media. Those fans were fed up with Tennessee’s administration, Butch Jones, and the season in general and wanted to make their voices heard.
But once Saturday came, Neyland Stadium looked far from empty. Aside from a smaller-than-normal showing from the student section, the rest of Neyland Stadium was fairly full, and Tennessee officially announced that there were over 95,000 fans in attendance.
That number, however, is skewed because it’s not the actual number of people in the stadium, but the number of purchased tickets. There weren’t 95,000 fans in attendance on Saturday, but there were definitely more than most assumed would be there for a 7:30 kickoff against a non-Power Five school.
Though the movement largely failed, that didn’t stop one SEC Network analyst and former SEC quarterback from completely bashing Tennessee fans who supported it.
Greg McElroy was a quarterback for Alabama from 2007-10 and now works as an analyst for the SEC Network. He co-hosts a Monday night show with former LSU lineman Marcus Spears called Thinking Out Loud. And on that show, McElroy fired off some very strong words towards any Vol fan who participated in the Empty Neyland movement.
“Last week, there was a hashtag that was making the rounds on social media,” McElroy said of the Empty Neyland movement. “(Tennessee players) go out there on the field wearing orange, wearing white, trying to bring you pride every single week. And to abandon (the players) in a moment of need is flat out embarrassing”
But McElroy didn’t stop there. He was only getting warmed up.
“Anyone associated with the #EmptyNeyland trend — you failed, by the way, because 95,000 plus showed up — so congrats, and a standing ovation to those that were there to support their team, ” McElroy added. “But for those associated with the ‘Empty Neyland’: Come at me. Because you are a disgrace to your fan base, and you are a disgrace to your team.”
This wasn’t the first time McElroy commented on the Empty Neyland movement either. He took to Twitter on Friday before the Southern Miss game to slam Vol fans then too, saying they “should be ashamed of themselves.”
Anyone associated w #EmptyNeyland should be ashamed of themselves.
You’re abandoning your players, which hurts your school in the long run
— Greg McElroy (@GregMcElroy) November 3, 2017
As McElroy points out, a sizable crowd showed up for Saturday’s homecoming game, rendering the movement largely unsuccessful. But McElroy’s words seem a bit harsh for a fan base that is as passionate and large as Tennessee’s, especially when the movement didn’t ultimately work out.