I don’t think CPF got “stupid overnight”. Rather, I just think that he never “really” was the man. Riding the wave of success and momentum that, in all fairness, he helped build under CJM, he recruited well. The days of taking yours and beating his/taking his and beating yours were long over. There was only one General.
Phil recruited great for several years. Peyton was his franchise player. A lot of kids came here because of him. With great players he won. I doubt anyone would say that CPF was a great X/O coach. Rather, he just recruited well, was in the right place at the right time, had great assistants, got lucky, and rode the early 90′s wave, all the way to an NC.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. I’m sure he got somewhat complacent, made several wrong evaluations, lost great assistants, started losing, the luck ran out, and the negative karma started to snowball. As CPF says, the wind blows hardest at the top of the flag pole.
History will place him as the 2nd best at UT, behind the General. However, Dickey was better, but he never won them all, and he left. Had he stayed, the Bear wouldn’t be the legend he has become. Dickey would have beaten him regularly. Dickey would have a statue next to the General’s. Wyatt was also probably better, as was Majors, but alcohol got the better of both.
Again, Phil had his pluses, but he overachieved. His success on the field was not due to great coaching. All of the stars had to be in alignment for him to win. He does have a NC and no one will ever take that away. Because of that, I’ll always love him!
Butch has a long road ahead. There will be peaks and valleys. So far, he’s done EVERYTHING right. I pray this continues. It’s time for TENNESEE to regain its rightful place among the elite. Though it’s early, all indications are that Butch will lead us back.