I read a lot of message board’s researching this post: How to E-Worship Tennessee Football: The Pros and Cons of Tennessee Football Message Boards | Losers with Socks (LWS). A majority of these fans believe that Derek Dooley has a plan and we need to be patient, any other opinion is “trolling” or you’re not a real Vols fan.
The following post, that I shamelessly lifted off of a Vols forum before the forum moderators zapped it is the best summation of Tennessee fans expectations and where the program was before and during Dooley. Even more amazing that it was deleted from the forum. Here is an interesting alternative perspective:
There are several reasons why Dooley is on the hot seat quicker than a coach might be under other circumstances, not all of which are his fault.
Last season was the worst at Tennessee since 1977. 1977 was the last time Tennessee won only one conference game. We’ve had four 5 win seasons since then, the most recent one leading to Phil Fulmer being “fired”. We haven’t lost to Kentucky since 1984. That happened last year, when Kentucky didn’t even have a quarterback on the field and instead ran out of the wildcat the entire game. We were a miraculous interception against Vanderbilt away from going winless in the conference last year, something that hasn’t happened at Tennessee since 1924. Granted, Bray was hurt and Hunter was injured – but there is no excuse for Tennessee falling that far. This, above all else, is why Dooley is on the hot seat – because last year he traded in his one and only “get out of jail free” card. Mediocrity is not enough to wash away the memories of that season. Only a truly successful season will make up for it, and let the fans feel like we’re moving in a positive direction rather than risking another unacceptable one.
Recent SEC coach hires have demonstrated success quickly, not gradually building toward it. Within 2 years, Bobby Petrino had Arkansas at 8-5 and continued to scale upward from there. Within 2 years, Gene Chizik had Auburn undefeated with a national championship and a Heisman. Within 2 years, Urban Meyer had Florida at 13-1 with a national championship and a Heisman. Within 2 years, Nick Saban had Alabama in the SEC Championship and 6th in the nation, and won a national championship and a Heisman the following year. Within 2 years, Mark Richt had Georgia at 13-1 and 3rd in the nation. Spurrier had 8 wins in his first two seasons at South Carolina when they hadn’t had more than 6 wins in 3 years before he arrived (and were perennially .500 teams for decades before that.) Fulmer won 10 or more games in 3 of his first 4 seasons at Tennessee. This is the expectation.
Dooley was a desperation hire. Lane Kiffin announced he was leaving Tennessee on January 12, 2010, in the middle of recruiting season – in fact, just three weeks before signing day. The college coaching carousel was already over, and it was too late for Tennessee to bid on any “dream” coach, after losing out on then Texas “coach in waiting” Will Muschamp. Muschamp isn’t doing all that great at Florida. Tennessee scrambled for a coach to reassure recruits and avoid transfers, announcing Dooley as the hire only 3 days after Kiffin’s departure. Not a lot of information was available on Dooley. We learned that he had been coaching at Louisiana Tech with a losing record. We learned that he was Vince Dooley’s son, and that he had recruited under Nick Saban. We were cautiously optimistic, but there’s no doubt about it – Dooley was hired because we needed a coach immediately, not because Tennessee fans wanted him in particular. He came in behind the eight ball needing to prove himself.
Tennessee was on a recruiting binge when Dooley was hired. Everybody says Kiffin left the cupboard bare, but that’s a gross overstatement. Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Da’Rick Rogers, and Raijon Neal were all Kiffin recruits in 2010 – they fortunately just stuck with the program and signed after Dooley was announced as coach. AJ Johnson is a major contributor brought in by Dooley, but other than that, we’re seeing a lot of Kiffin’s recruits now. (Side note: Bryce Brown was the best running back I’ve seen at UT since the late 90s / early 2000s. If he was in the backfield still, paired up with the passing attack Tennessee still has, we might be the most explosive offense in the country.) Tennessee was stumbling when Dooley took over, but a lot of the pieces already in place for a heck of a football team.
Tennessee fans are willing to give Dooley the benefit of the doubt that last season was an anomaly, but it has to be that. We’d like to be competitive for the national championship again, we want to be competitive for the SEC again, but we have to be competitive for the division again. Dooley has the chance to right the ship this season. He’s got an uphill battle in a tough conference that lives and dies by its college football. I’m hopeful he can do it. This weekend in particular made a big step forward for Dooley and the program. Dooley: I will not be defined by a trophy
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