Recently my co-hosts and I were discussing the excitement of the approaching college football season on the radio. This conversation ultimately led to what games were going to be played to open the season. Friday night (Aug 31) the nation will be subject to an ACC vs. SEC match-up, North Carolina State University against the Tennessee Volunteers.
Eventually the next topic that was raised was the typical debate of whether a football team who has been down-and-out can make a comeback and reach their once former glory, such as the ‘Vols.
The ‘Vols and coach Derek Dooley have fell short losing six of their last eight games down the stretch last season. Tennessee won one conference game in the SEC which included an overtime victory over a sub-par Vanderbilt team. This has caused head coach Derek Dooley’s seat to become increasing hotter by the day. With the recent release of their best wide receiver, Da’Rick Rogers for “violating the team’s substance abuse policy”, the heat and pressure may have increased.
Tennessee has failed to live up to expectations the last couple of seasons, which many expected after the departure of the always loved Lane Kiffin. Before Kiffin jumped ship to University of Southern California he left UT to dry. He cost the program massive personnel losses. Lane also ran players off campus with his exceptional lack of personal skills coupled with recruiting players who couldn’t apply with the academic standards or operate within the confines of proper-behavior.
After two disappointing seasons, Tennessee looks to be on the up and up after their irrelevant hiatus in the SEC. Head coach Dooley voiced his outlook this summer on being a punching bag for the SEC. “You’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore, I feel like we got a team that can go toe-to-toe for four quarters with all the teams in our league.”
The Tennessee Volunteer faithful are hoping this becomes reality. Dooley took over a mangled football program with low scholarship numbers. Dooley was given the complicated- task of cleaning-up and was asked to win in the country’s hardest conference while doing it.
Dooley is a leader of good quality both on and off the field. Unfortunately for him, this doesn’t earn him an automatic “W” in the standings column. ‘Vols fans are only interested in one thing; becoming relevant in the SEC once again and Dooley’s overall record of 11-14 will not cut it. Tennessee finished last season 5-7 with a SEC finish of 1-5 (6th in East). If Dooley is going to get off the “hot seat”, his ‘Vols need to at least finish 3rd in the SEC East, while making a trip to a bowl game.
Dooley deserves the opportunity to prove he is capable of putting Tennessee back on the map. He took over a program which was depleted while most coaches shied away. ‘Vols fans, don’t be so eager for the firing of Dooley, you never know who you might end up with next (Bobby Petrino).
Come Friday night, Tennessee will take on coach Tom O’Brien’s NC State Wolfpack. A Wolfpack win over an SEC school in front of a packed stadium sets up a bowl season and improved recruiting for a couple of years. It also helps raise the temperature of Dooley’s seat a little more. If Tennessee wins, it creates a good start towards making it to a bowl game.
Tennessee’s 2012 schedule.
Aug 31 – NC State Wolfpack (Georgia Dome)
Sep 08 – Georgia State Panthers
Sep 15 – Florida Gators
Sep 22 – Akron Zips
Sep 29 – at Georgia Bulldogs
Oct 06 – BYE
Oct 13 – at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Oct 20 – Alabama Crimson Tide
Oct 27 – at South Carolina Gamecocks
Nov 03 – Troy Trojans
Nov 10 – Missouri Tigers
Nov 17 – at Vanderbilt Commodores
Nov 24 – Kentucky Wildcats