“This is our year.” That is a hollow statement that many desperate fan bases proclaim to anyone who listens. It is also the unfortunate club Matt Painter, Sean Miller, Mark Few and Rick Barnes have been forcefully enrolled in for not being able to reach the apex of college basketball.

For Barnes and the Tennessee Volunteers, though, those four words carry more weight than maybe ever before. At least they did, until a surprise beatdown by Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament showed Knoxville that this program still has some baggage to unload.

The No. 1 seed in the conference trailed the whole way in the 73-56 loss, as star Dalton Knecht shot a frighteningly 4-of-17 from the field. In the past, Tennessee's supporting cast has bailed out their All-American from an off night, but no one outside of Zakai Zeigler made much of an impact Friday afternoon. Chris Jans' Bulldogs dismantled their competition.

Naturally, Barnes took the heat from those watching at home. “Tournament Rick Barnes is here!!!!!” Fox Sports' Chris “The Bear” Fallica posted on X. People found creative ways to join in on this roast.

Ouch. Rick Barnes has won a conference championship with the Vols before and has even reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament with Texas in 2003, but there has undeniably been a ton of underachieving in his March Madness career. His Big Dance stumbles mirror that of Tennessee basketball, as the program has never made it past the Elite Eight.

Barnes has had multiple opportunities to push the team over the hump, thereby exorcising his own demons, but he continues to suffer through one agonizing defeat after another. Hence, a highly accomplished head coach with more than 800 career wins has his legacy reduced to one month of the year. As CBS Sports insider Jon Rothstein astutely puts it, that is the dark side of March.

But Barnes' metaphorical attendance in that aforementioned conclave of chokers does not have to be permanent. Bill Self and Tony Bennett each broke out. Perhaps this embarrassing defeat is the warning Rick Barnes and Tennessee can heed before it's too late. Is this a sign from the basketball gods that merciful change is coming?

Or is it simply a warning to the millions of people who will be filling out their brackets next week?