The Arnett family cleverly crank up the sympathy meter
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is losing ground every day.
An unidentified family member related to DeAnthony Arnett is quoted (see below) by an article today at Mlive.com, written by Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. It serves the purpose of adding to the public sentiment for Arnett’s case of wanting to leave Tennessee on his own terms.
The people at Tennessee know he’s not coming back. The coaches know, the players know, the administrators know. No matter what happens, Dee can’t go back right now, not the way the situation is. They know that. We’ve been talking back and forth. They understand. Right now, the plan is to take online classes through Tennessee – he’s still on scholarship – and work out at home to stay in shape…
His mom was only able to go to one of his games, and that means a lot to Dee. We thought we would be able to afford to go to more, but then our benefits changed. And with the medical problems, it’s very hard for us to be able to drive to see a game in Tennessee…
Dee loved Tennessee and he loved Coach Baggett, but his situation has changed in a lot of ways since he signed his letter of intent. He’s trying to do what’s best for him and his family. We’ll keep talking to Tennessee and hope they understand. There is nothing personal involved. It’s just family.
This clearly renders Dooley and Tennessee as the evil-doer. What other purpose could this serve? A casual reader of these quotes would think that Tennessee is unwilling to allow Arnett to leave for a FBS school close to his Saginaw, Michigan home so that he can live and play football near his ailing father and other family members. The facts obviously are much different, as yesterday’s post outlines. However, none of that matters. Arnett clearly wants a road to Michigan or Michigan State (or perhaps even Notre Dame) built with no toll gates. The fact that Tennessee built a freeway to the three MAC schools in Michigan — that would satisfy the request for proximity to family — is irrelevant to the Arnetts.
Yes, this is about family. Clearly. But it is not “just about family” as stated by the family member. This is clearly about football as well.
And Derek Dooley is clearly in a no-win situation. Even if Dooley has thought that by blocking Arnett’s request, the young receiver might return to the Vols for the 2012 campaign, his faulty reading of the situation has created the unintended consequence of national embarrassment.
It’s now about damage control. Dooley needs to grant an unconditional release as soon as possible, regardless of the facts. This is a public perception issue, and Dooley is not winning any beauty contests.