By Andy Staples, SI.com
When any school loses a game it shouldn't, fans search far and wide for someone to blame. When an SEC school loses a game it shouldn't, the attacks on those perceived to be at fault for the loss can get downright nasty. So when a Tennessee fan -- and booster, and former president of the UT alumni association -- logged on to a message board and heaped blame on tailback Arian Foster for the Vols' 27-24 overtime loss at UCLA on Monday, Foster's mother, Bernadette, returned fire.
Roy Adams, a Memphis-based Tennessee fan with a rather colorful history, regularly posts under the alias "Tennstud" on the message board at InsideTennessee, the Scout.com site that covers Tennessee. After the loss, Adams didn't hold back.
In a post titled "This was NOT a team loss; this was a loss caused by two," Adams described a game-watching party he hosted that included several former Tennessee players. He also pointed out the players he believed were at fault.
"If, If, a running back who has caused us to lose 2 games in his career didn't fumble, we would have won," Adams wrote. "If, If, we didn't have such a poor, ineffective, qb, we would have won. A debate develolped as to how far back to we go to observe such a poor, ineffective, qb. in UT's history."
The running back Adams referenced is Foster, who fumbled in the red zone early in Monday's third quarter. The quarterback is starter Jonathan Crompton. Bernadette Foster, who also posts regularly on several Tennessee message boards under the alias fostermom, scolded Adams in a post of her own titled "Attention Roy and whoever else wants to read."
"I've seen blame on everything from orange pants to Dustin Colquitt," Foster wrote. "Arian had a bad fumble....a good game, but a bad fumble. No excuses. It can't happen and it shouldn't. What would you like me to say?"
Later, Foster aimed directly at Adams.
"Money doesn't buy you intelligence, it doesn't even buy you love," Foster wrote. "But I guess in Memphis, it sure as hell buys you a crowd at your house for a football game. I'd gladly be poor all my life than to wind up like you.
"And I don't care if I get banned. You, Roy Adams, can kiss my (rear)."
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Foster confirmed she authored the post. She then explained why she felt it necessary to defend her son, a senior who needs to gain 589 more yards to pass Travis Henry as Tennessee's all-time leading rusher.
"So many fans look at these kids like they're just players on a Gameboy," Bernadette Foster said. "I want to remind them that these players are human."
She couldn't be more correct. It's one thing to publicly rip an NFL back who makes millions to carry the football, but Foster turned down his chance to get paid to return to Tennessee, where he receives tuition, room and board. Tennessee lost to a physically inferior team not because of two players, but because the Vols didn't come ready to play. In the end, the blame rests with the coaches, who are paid handsomely to prepare those players.
Of course, some message-board types disagree. Two minutes after fostermom's post hit the board, a fan with the handle MemphisVol75 responded with this: "...your son is a nice guy and all that, but he's a fumbler in clutch situations. It's there for all of us to see."
That begs a question. Would MemphisVol75 have the guts to say that to Bernadette Foster's face? Or better yet, to Arian Foster's face?