Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 17 November 2012 | 7:00pm EST
Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550) | Nashville, TN | ESPN2
Absolutely everything has been discussed this week within the VolNation. Everything except the upcoming football game.
When South Carolina destroyed Georgia on October 6 by a shocking 35-7 score, the Old Ball Coach had his program ranked 3rd on the 6-0 W/L tally. How times have changed.
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.
1992 was the season in Tennessee Volunteers history when one legend replaced another.
It is hardly possible to believe that a season ending with a 9–3 record would go down as one of the most tumultuous campaigns of Tennessee Volunteer football. But that is an apt description of what happened 20 years ago.
It was a season that was ushered in with the untimely death of the head athletic trainer and a heart bypass operation performed on the head coach. These preludes led to the main act featuring stars in the making at quarterback and running back, an improbable run up the national ranking to number four under unproven leadership, and an agonizing four weeks during which the team lost its only three games of the season, doing so under the recuperating head coach who had returned from the operating table at a timetable to perhaps save his job.
The finale gave us the transfer of power from one Tennessee legend to another.
William Shakespeare did not write this tale. It was more like a modern-day reality television show. But it really happened.
So, if you think 2008 was the most gut-wrenching season possible, take a trip back 20 years to when Phillip Fulmer began his Tennessee head coaching career, and when another Tennessee legend ended his.
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Tennessee VolunteersSaturday 26 November 2011 | 12:21 pm EST Commonwealth Stadium (67,606) | Lexington, KY | SEC Network
Johnny Majors spoke at a function in Chattanooga Monday evening and remarked that if the Vols defeat Kentucky on Saturday in Lexington, the comeback win last week over Vandy will be the turning point in Derek Dooley’s career. That means that the moment Las Vegas revealed Vanderbilt as a favorite over the host Vols before last week’s game will be officially labeled ‘the bottom’. Of course, all that goes up in smoke if the ‘Cats defeat Tennessee, and that would be a far worse bottom. And, it would break The Streak. And nothing comes easy for Tennessee in this series that, no matter how lopsided the W-L tally, is always a hard-fought contest.
I’ve been laying low after the Vols’ loss against South Carolina. Sick as a dog. Sick from all of the stupidity flying around the Vol Nation via radio, blogs, tweets, message boards, chat rooms – all modes of communication that render patience, and knowledge, an outdated virtue. The 48 hours since the Gamecocks ‘somehow won’, to paraphrase Steve Spurrier, have been like a plume of contaminants spreading at the rate of a swine flu squared.
I inhaled the airborne poison. Breathed it all in, deeply, and suffered a toxic shock of sorts. But I quickly went into rehab (the ‘off’ button is a wonderful, underused strategy), and now I’m back to my ol’ self.
I’m out of Detox. Now, Listen Up!
‘It’ has already started. ‘It’ always starts with just a few comments, and then builds and builds until the noise is so loud that your either have to simply turn it off or you become pulled into it by some mysterious gravational force.
It’s basically a decision based on personality.