Game Preview: Tennessee vs Western Kentucky
Saturday 5 Sept 2009
12:21 pm ET
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
This game is about one thing and one thing only.
The majority of the Vol Nation received what they were clamoring for over the past couple of seasons. A new coach. They (we) had a say in the decision to fire Phil Fulmer. Now we are confronted with the result of that wish, a result for which they (we) did not have a say. That’s the way it always is. Fire the coach! Bring in whoever. Just rid us of this endless misery! Oh, thank you! Very nice. Did someone just open the window? Feels nice in here. Was getting pretty stuffy…
And that’s where we are. On the eve of seeing Mr. Kiffin’s methods, his approach, his philosophy, his leadership abilities – all manifested through the movements of his players. And their decisions. All in front of over 100,000 people.
How would you like to have a job like that?
For those of you old enough, what were you doing when you were 34 years old? For those of you who aren’t there yet, what will you be doing when you are 34 years old? When a couple of your staff who have just finished the project you planned and managed are scheduled to give a presentation on it, why not invite 100,000 people to attend? Maybe even televise it! Remember, their presentation will largely reflect your methods, approach, philosophy, and leadership abilities!
I know. It comes with the job. He’s getting paid millions, so it should be a tough profession. But it still has that human element. He’s no different than you and me in that respect.
Scared? I imagine you would be. Is Lane Kiffin scared? Likely. And, I hope so, because fear is a pretty good motivator at times.
And maybe fear explains Coach Kiffin’s unbridled remarks for which he has become nationally infamous. He certainly didn’t pick on creampuffs. Only two months out of the box, Mr. Kiffin came out with a beaut when speaking at at a breakfast in front of a thousand fans. He quipped, “Just so you know, when a recruit’s on another campus, you can’t call a recruit on another campus.” And then he followed with, “I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him.”
Boy howdy! Who does he think he is? Steve Spurrier? Big Balls or Big Stupid? That’ll just have to play itself out. Starting 19 September. In Gainesville. Against the Number One team in the land. It’ll all play out. One way or another.
Or maybe he did it on a bet with his father-in-law. You know, the real estate agent who was arrested last year on gun and drug charges. Jeez, does anybody in the UT Athletic Department do background checks on job applicants?
Like I said. That’s where we are. Who we’ve got.
Now it is time to see where we are going.
So where are we going?
Always hard to say, but if injuries are any sign, and we haven’t even snapped a ball yet, maybe not very far. My pre-season prediction is 6-6.
Receiver Austin Rogers is out for the season. Denarius Moore might be. Gerald Jones might not be back until October.
This year’s story, apart from the coming splendor that is watching Eric Berry do his thing, just might be the frosh. Receivers Nu’Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague look like they might be the real deal. Tailback Bryce Brown may take some pressure off Montario Hardesty. And other freshmen like OT Aaron Douglas and FS Janzen Jackson may see the limelight.
But the other part of this year’s story undoubtedly has to be Jonathan Crompton, who with Nick Stephens, fill the QB position for this year’s Vols. Nightmare on the Banks of the Tennessee River?
Very possibly. We’ll soon find out if Crompton’s problems were last year’s coaching or his own head. And an opponent like Western Kentucky is probably not a bad place to begin for Jonathan.
What is a Hilltopper?
No, not Science Hill H.S.
The Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers come to Neyland Stadium sporting an eight-game losing streak. Eastern Kentucky and Murray State were the only victims of last year’s WKU football program that finished 2-10.
AND THEY DIDN’T FIRE THEIR COACH!
THEY EXTENDED HIS CONTRACT THROUGH THE 2016 SEASON!
He must be something.
Head coach David Elson has been at the helm of the Hilltopper football program for six seasons. Before being named the head coach in 2003, he was an assistant coach since 1996, and he was WKU’s defensive coordinator during their I-AA national championship season of 2002. That’s right. WKU is not just a basketball school. They play a little football in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And even with last year’s 2-10 disaster, his record at WKU is a respectable 39-32. That means he must have done something right between 2003 and 2007. He did: 9-4 and 9-3 in his first two seasons, followed by 6-5, 6-5, then 7-5.
But the challenge confronting Elson and his Hilltoppers is that beginning this season, they are a member of the Sun Belt Conference, a respectible league that in spots plays some pretty exciting football.
So, good luck to them. Beginning 12 September when they host South Florida.
Oh, back to my original question. What is a Hilltopper? Yes. It’s somebody that attends Western Kentucky University. The campus sits atop the highest point in south-central Kentucky, a hill called College Heights. The highest part of the campus is call “The Hill.”
What do you know – UT’s sister university.
Who’s gonna win?
Considering David Duffy at ESPN.com picked WKU as Number Two of his Bottom 10, just behind North Texas State, you’d think this one is in the bag even before the pads go on.
Having said that, my pick is:
Tennessee 36 Western Kentucky 15
This Week’s Games Involving Upcoming 2009 Opponents
Thursday 3 September 2009
South Carolina at North Carolina State (7:00 pm ET)
Saturday 5 September 2009
Kentucky at Miami (Ohio) (12:00 pm ET)
Georgia at Oklahoma State (3:30 pm ET)
Charleston Southern at Florida (7:00 pm ET)
Connecticut at Ohio University (7:00 pm ET)
Louisiana Tech at Auburn (7:00 pm ET)
San Diego State at UCLA (7:30 pm ET)
Western Carolina at Vanderbilt (7:30 pm ET)
Alabama at Virginia Tech (8:00 pm ET)
Sunday 6 September 2009
Mississippi at Memphis (3:30 pm ET)