Everything’s coming up roses
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley hosted a session for the media on Tuesday morning in Knoxville. It was quite the feel-good festival on nearly the 40th day since his last public commentary following the disaster in Lexington. He obviously had a lot of ground to cover, and not just because of the amount of time that has elapsed since his last appearance. A lot has happened since he walked out of Commonwealth Stadium.
First of all, congratulations are extended to Dooley for his ending the DeAnthony Arnett PR fiasco. No mater what the reason — whether that be to reverse our public humiliation or for some other reason — Arnett is now free to move across the country. His conditional release is now an unconditional release. Sighs of relief could be heard in Saginaw as well as Lansing, Ann Arbor, and even South Bend. It is the best for the kid, best for Dooley, best for UT football, and best for me so that I can stop thinking about it.
What Dooley did for most of his time behind a microphone on this frosty morning was to paint the lay of the land as one of clover-draped hillsides, splashed in a warm, orange-tinged sunlight. Even though he recently lost his coordinator that led the nation’s 28th rated defense (and additional assistants to boot), a lot of last-season’s defenders will be returning for battle in 2012 and another coordinator will be hired in due time — “the quicker the better”. He characterized all assistant coaches, and players for that matter, essentially as free agents, and change is to be expected. He basically said the same thing months ago, so this was repetition of mantra.
Dooley was quite vague when it came to recruiting. That’s fair enough. His preliminary grade card will be coming in less than a month. However, Da’Rick Rogers’ tweet, something to the effect of ‘losing recruits right and left is just the way it is around here’, regardless of its source, is troublesome to say the least.
He characterized the football program as being in “great shape”, Da’Rick is “fine”, a recent conversation with Tyler went “great”, and his relationship with his new boss, Dave Hart, was peachy. In summary, Dooley thinks that “the worst is behind us”. Well, it can’t get any worse than a 10-7 humiliation at the hands of a depleted Kentucky team, can it?
Dooley did, however, acknowledge that some things were not so rosy. Addressing that perspective, he figuratively shook his index finger at the swirling stench of rumor around this football program. He rightfully took a pot-shot at his greatly exaggerated death (no, he did not resign this morning). But he also dwelled on the drama of it all and how reality is nothing close to the portrail of it. All I can say to that is welcome to Knoxville. It has been going on like this from Battle through Kiffin, and it is just going to get worst with all of the gadgets at our disposal.
Coach Dooley chose to play down, or rather eliminate, the negatives and accentuate the positive. That is his perogative. We probably all needed somebody to crack a window for some fresh air, especially after the last few weeks. But there is a staleness to it all, a sense that we as fans are to be told to calm down when we get restless. Well, a calm state is not an action to take — it is a result. You don’t just calm down. You do something to calm down. We all want to know what it is we are supposed to do to calm down. Singing a song from a Broadway musical isn’t going to work. Not now.