Faith means not wanting to know what is true. -Nietzsche
Forecasts for the month of November of the 2012 football season seemingly contain grim news for Coach Derek Dooley. Although there was no doubt about the murderous nature of Tennessee’s remaining schedule, there is considerable mystery about the impact of the rumors of Dooley quitting Tennessee to seek greener pastures.
The Dooley era has been “lean” years for Vols football. Derek Dooley nevertheless, enjoyed a reputation as a coach who got more out of his talent than almost any other coach could have done. His teams, although seldom victorious, are usually tough and well-prepared, and they earned a reputation for exciting, razzle-dazzle football
The November schedule offered no hope for improvement in last couple of games of 2102. The Vols last two games are against Vandy and Kentucky. Normally such tough contests would come earlier in the season.
The Vols has shown a slight weakness on pass defense and in the line, but overall progress was sufficient to lead many in the local sports media to speculate that the Vols might surprise the highly regarded teams remaining on their schedule and could become a dark horse for a very significant post season bowl bid. Perhaps the prestigious BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham against a powerhouse Big East squad.
This Saturday, Tennessee travels to Nashville, to meet Coach James Franklin’s Vanderbilt Commodores—-“one of the great teams of the year.” The Vols chances against the Dores appear to be slim. Some odds-makers rate the Vols as a 3.5-point underdog. The Commodores had been upset by Georgia and Florida earlier in the season, and an impressive victory over Vols would help restore their tarnished prestige.
So the last half of the SEC season promises great excitement as the three juggernauts, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, begin what one sportswriter has called “the round-robin of Dixie.”
For Tennessee fans the last two games of the season must seem to be an eternity—a “geological age,” one writer called it—-as the out-manned Volunteers fight to save their precocious but embattled coach’s job. The Vandy game could easily become one of those “heart-fluttering, artery-pounding” contests in which any play could be decisive and which will never be forgotten.
And for Derek Dooley? He can afford to retire, quit or return to the NFL. “He has answered the critics . . . who doubted that the fires of strategic genius burned within him”