Published August 24, 2010 - 4:56pm
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Editor’s Note: This article is in response to Jon Cooper’s claim that Tennessee will only win 5 football games this year. Jared Sawyer is a Vol and agrees with Hunter Mize that regardless of the media’s doubts, Tennessee is going to have a good year in 2010.
Folks in the SEC give Lane Kiffin too much credit for allegedly ruining Tennessee’s immediate future. Now I will admit I cried like a baby when I heard Lane would be taking Layla out of the State of Tennessee. How could he do that to us? But, a few months have passed, a few bottles of Makers have been finished off, and I am now happy with the things that have transpired the last year. During this time of reflection, it is quite apparent the problems Tennessee is facing now i.e. lack of depth, a deflated defensive line, and lack of discipline are the result of a slow moving train wreck that was the end of the Fulmer Era. It just happened to be given a high power accelerant in Lane Kiffin. However, I am quite optimistic the upcoming season will surprise a lot of people for a couple reasons:
Reason 1: Derek Dooley
Derek Dooley might just be the savior Tennessee Football needs. Many of my orange kool aid sipping brethren have not fully embraced Dooley and for understandable reasons. Lane Kiffin’s midnight escape was like your hot girlfriend cheating on you. Dooley is everything Lane Kiffin is not and that my friends is a good thing. Derek Dooley is a Nick Saban in the making. Now before I go any further, let me express my extreme hatred for everything Alabama. There are exactly two things positive associated with that University: sorority girls and Nick Saban. Dooley is a Saban protégé. He worked with Saban from 2000 to 2006 at LSU and with the Dolphins holding positions like recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach, and running backs coach. Nick Saban knows how to run a football program and coach football and that is exactly what Dooley has learned from his onetime mentor.
One of the most obvious positive changes this team has undergone is attitude. Players have been singing Dooley’s praises after going through spring ball and the start of fall camp. The popular opinion is that he is a tough and demanding SOB who will go to bat for his players in a second. Dooley has come in and immediately addressed some of Tennessee’s key issues. He has instituted a Character Education program headed by former NFL star Andre Lott to instill a sense of community, character, and discipline on the team. He has encouraged his players to know where everyone of their teammates are at all times. In a sense, he is coming in and building a family. Nick Saban has shown family wins championships.
This spring Coach Dooley said to his new players that he didn’t expect them to trust him right away. He said he had to earn their trust. He is a coach who expects players to earn their way, push each other, and finish strong. I guess Dooley would probably say the same thing about trust to Vol fans. He has to earn it this upcoming season. But from what I have seen and heard from Dooley this offseason this team will be ready to play. He is a man who leads by example and this season Vol fans will start to see that exemplified through the leadership of the players on the field. This fan base is ready and deserves leaders in the mold of Al Wilson and Peyton Manning and not reckless talking heads like Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin. That leadership crumbled in the late Fulmer era and was completely gone under Kiffin. That will change this year. The Vols’ close games will be won because of the leaders who step up and demand more from this team. Their coach simply will have it no other way.
Some may think this naïve and part of the excitement surrounding a new coach. But folks, I trust a man Saban made his recruiting coordinator and fellow coach for six years far more than someone who got fired by Al Davis.
Reason 2: Vols Schedule
The 2010 Tennessee football schedule is really nothing special. The likes of ESPN and Mr. Cooper who suggest Tennessee is going to win 5 games is downright insane. Now I do not make any promises, or suggest we will beat Florida, Alabama, Georgia, or even LSU. There are however, several victories on this schedule
Tennessee-Martin, September 4
Unless Ray Charles rises from the dead to take over the quarterback position, the Vols will walk all over our West Tennessee brothers.
Oregon, September 11
This will be a tough game for the Vols. The Ducks are a solid team and favorites to win the Pac-10.The loss of Jeromiah Masoli is going to keep this team from being awesome. In the end, Neyland Stadium and the Pac-10 hating Vols fans will win a close one. Face it, LaMichael James can’t win a game by himself, and will probably be suspended anyway for punching his own mascot, The Duck.
UAB, September 25
UAB students are still trying to perfect the Bama Bangs look made popular by their rich cousins at Alabama. I think they should just stick with their regular mullets. UAB will not put up much of a fight in football until they can somehow figure out a way to relocate Auburn or Alabama out of the state.
South Carolina, October 30
The Ol’ Ball Coach just can’t quite get over the hump with South Carolina. This is either because their fans scream C-O-C-K-S all game disrupting the genius (yes, I hate to admit it) of Spurrier’s brain, or the fact they still have that god awful quarterback, Stephen Garcia. Tennessee wins a close game.
Memphis, November 6
There isn’t much to say here. Memphis is awful in football and I wish they weren’t even a part of the State of Tennessee. I wish Arkansas would just steal them in the middle of the night. Stick to basketball and buying recruits Tiger fans.
Mississippi, November 13
Houston Nutt is a nut for taking Jeromiah Masoli. I am pretty sure Masoli will somehow find a way to steal a HD TV from The Grove during halftime the week before the Tennessee game. When this happens, all the hopes and dreams of the Rebel faithful will disappear. I hope they will still bring a little piece of The Grove tailgating with them up to Knoxville though and maybe some of their sorority girls.
Vanderbilt, November 20
Well, the Commodores keep getting better in basketball and are starting to make progress in football. It is hard to hate on Vandy because they have just never really given me anything to hate. They have been so bad for so long. As always, they will keep this game close. In the end, Dooley will channel his pops and keep the Vols perfect in November,
Kentucky, November 27
Kentucky football fans I kind of feel bad for you. You all just are not very good. I mean you have to take our fired Offensive Coordinator and then steal the legend Tee Martin to be an assistant coach. If there was ever going to be a year to beat us in the next 50 years, THIS IS IT! I just don’t see it happening unless you can run the wildcat with John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, and then throw a trick pass to your tight end Demarcus Cousins. Wait. They graduated. Make it 26 years in a row.
Now I know I have taken some jabs at my fellow SEC fans. It is not meant as a sign of disrespect. However, I just want to point out to Mr. Cooper and the like that while we may be down this year, we are certainly not out. Dooley and Company have things going in the right direction. If we lose one, or even two of those games I noted above, we are still bowl eligible. We are not a team you can overlook.