No One Is Bigger Than The Orange Jersey
Consider for a moment that you are Derek Dooley.
You inherited a program that was low on talent (at least relative to our history). But you had at least one true star- Janzen Jackson.
You were lucky to have him. He almost chose LSU instead of Knoxville.
Somewhere along the line, problems arose, and your star needed time away from campus, so you allowed him to go back to Louisiana to sort things out.
He had a major substance abuse problem.
You welcomed him back about two months ago. And, you knew he had a better than 50-50 chance to relapse into using. All addicts face those kind of odds.
So, you laid down the law: for Janzen to stay in the Vol program, he had to comply with a zero-tolerance policy. One failed drug test and he had to be shown the door.
Over the past several weeks, you gave Janzen a lot of time and support. You both had weekly meetings from which you became close, forming a bond much deeper that usual for a player-coach relationship.
He was doing great, both on and off the field, and you were proud. And thankful. It is going to be another tough season.
Then the lab sheets were delivered – a failed drug test. Confirmed.
Wasn’t it tempting, after all of the time and effort and energy put into the young man, and your need for top-quality talent to carry you through a season of growing expectations, to break your own rule and just give him one more chance?
You call Janzen into your office and show him the results. You did what was best for yourself, the school, and ultimately for Janzen himself.
You second-guessed yourself the rest of the afternoon and evening. And then, you were proud, and relieved, when your senior running back, Tauren Poole, said this to reporters:
“I think it was a warning that Coach Dooley is not playing. He’s about his business, that if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to think about this organization’s reputation. You’re representing something big, it’s bigger than me, bigger than us, bigger than coach. This program is going to be here after us, and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it the right way. Guys that aren’t doing that, he’s going to get rid of them.”