The public response to the Vols’ loss in Starkville last Saturday at Mississippi State was swift. It was also predictable since that game, before kickoff, was christened a crucial game in the career of head coach Derek Dooley.
I’ve stayed out of the Dooley-Must-Go vs. Dooley-Must-Stay debate, because I think it premature for a number of reasons. Highly entertaining, but premature.
This week, I’ve had the opportunity to take some long drives (for work) accompanied by broadcasts of various talk shows on the two major sports radio stations in Knoxville. A lot of hysteria. Some reasoned discussion. Mostly food for further consideration.
It all made me think about the time that the Tennessee Volunteer football program underwent a full-fledged rebuilding program, how the dark days of the last 2+ years are part of a genuine rebuilding phase requiring more than simply a ‘reloading’ effort, and most importantly how hiring even the best coach in the land to stem the tide of decline is not a sure recipe for a quick recovery.
After this week’s bye week, the Vols will host the mighty Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). That gets me back up on my soap box.
Ben and Luther took their Monday lunch like most Mondays, at the Cracker Barrel where the Cosby Highway meets I-40, just a couple of miles south of downtown Newport. The topic of conversation was pretty much what it always is, on Monday or any other day – Tennessee Vols football.
Off Tackle Empire projects North Carolina to be Tennessee’s opponent in the Music City Bowl. That bowl is publicized as a matchup between the SEC #7 vs the ACC #6 teams. Those position levels are not etched in stone – generally they are good only as a guide for starting cocktail party conversations.
My lovely wife of a quarter-century is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Who wouldn’t be proud to have graduated from such a fine institution that is considered one of the best state universities in the country? On top of that fact, having a storied history in athletics – men’s basketball and women’s soccer immediately come to mind – makes the Tar Heel alumni happy to don the powder blue for just about anything (God is a Tar Heel – he made the sky Carolina Blue). They are a proud bunch.
So, when I read today that my beloved state university’s Athletic Director (the modifier ‘beloved’ refers to the institution, not the cited individual) intends to replace UNC with the University of Buffalo for the 2011-12 home-and-home series, I tried to fathom a way to defend my alma mater in anticipation of the onslaught. Read More…
Apparently there were lots of people at Knoxville Bar in the wee hours of Friday last week. There are also lots of stories flying around, with different allegations of who started what and who beat up whom and how. And, there are even conflicting stories regarding who was even present. Earlier, six Vol players had been identified as being present, and potentially involved, in the brawl. A seventh UT player, DT Chase Nelson, was named a possible suspect on Wednesday. Two players have been arrested. Read More…
On Rocky Top: A Front-Row Seat To The End of an Era. By Clay Travis. ItBooks; 337 pages; $25.99.
It is Monday, September 1, 2008. In the visiting locker room of the Rose Bowl Stadium, Phillip Fulmer, the second most successful coach in Tennessee football history in terms of wins, on his birthday, has just led his warriors in reciting Robert Neyland’s Seven Game Maxims. He then instills in his troops a feeling of timeless tradition before they take the field to open the 2008 season opener against UCLA: “Believe in your brothers all the way back to the twenties that have said these Maxims. Understand what you stand for by putting on that orange shirt and that T on your helmet.”
In less than three months, Coach Fulmer will be fired, and that timeless tradition will be tested by the hiring of a complete outsider, Lane Kiffin, who as we know now, will also be gone a season later.
Clay Travis, a sports columnist, an attorney living in Nashville, the grandson of a Vol who played for General Neyland in the 1930s, and an unabashed Tennessee football junkie who did not attend UT but traces his Vol fandom to watching the 1986 Sugar Bowl victory over Miami as a six-year old, was given access to the locker room and the sideline to write a book about a season that became one of the most memorable in the annals of Volunteer football. Read More…
He certainly has credentials. He’s been a positions coach—wide receivers, running backs, tight ends. He’s been a special teams coordinator. He’s been a recruiting coordinator. He’s done most of this under Nick Saban, both in the SEC and in the NFL. He’s been a head coach. And, he’s been an athletic director. And, he has the lineage, being the son of a coaching legend.
But even if you didn’t know this about Derek Dooley before Friday night’s press conference, you likely came away “dooley” impressed. I certainly was.
What impressed me the most was his reference to his personal history of getting out of his “comfort zone.” That is the trait of a successful person, one who continually stretches themselves beyond limits and boundaries. Read More…
This past week promised to be slow, until Lane Kiffin left for Trojan Town and started a coaching search party with a rock-painting contest and a T-shirt burning party.
Hammy Dusted Off Last Year’s Target List
After Kiffin dropped the bomb that set off the week’s nuclear chain reaction, Mike Hamilton hoped we would have a new coach by the end of Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, depending on what you were reading. On Friday morning, when Tennessee was 0-for-4 or -5 or -6, again depending on what you were reading, it felt like we might not have a coach until the Orange and White Game, or maybe even an interim situation for a year. Read More…
Less than two months after the University of Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin in November 2008 to replace Phil Fulmer as the head coach of the Vols, the Oakland Raiders’ legal counsel, Jeff Birren sent a letter dated January 22, 2009 to UT president Dr. John D. Petersen and legal counsel Catherine S. Mizelk. The letter was released to the media around the time of Kiffin’s deposition in March 2009 as part of his grievance with the National Football League over the salary he claimed that the Raiders still owed him on the three-year contract after being fired in September 2008.
In light of the entire Vol Nation feeling flayed, betrayed, and pretty much ready to kill the traitorous twerp after Tuesday, one of the most shocking days in the history of Tennessee Football, here are some excerpts from that letter of almost one year ago. Read More…
Now that I’ve scraped most of the bile out of my mouth left over from New Years Eve’s drubbing, more bile got shoved back in: Alabama plays for the mythical National Championship Thursday night.
But that’s sweet smelling compared to the renal breath that came out of the Athletic Department this week. Read More…