Living in Tennessee, I can't help but feel compassion for the University of Tennessee fans. Over the last four seasons the Vols have posted an anemic record of 23 wins and 27 losses. During this span they have only had one winning season and three different head coaches.
The bottom line is that this is the University of Tennessee and that is simply unacceptable!
Coming into this season, hopes were on the rise for Vol fans. They had perhaps the top receiving unit in college football with Justin Hunter, Da'rick Rogers and Cordarrelle Patterson. However, once again, Rogers is indefinitely suspended from the Vols football program.
I was able to scout Rogers out of high school and he was a genetic freak. He did, however, have two glaring weaknesses. He disappeared in big games like the GHSAA state championship game and was visibly immature. It is questionable whether the first road block has been surpassed but clear the second has not.
The fact is that Vol fans are tired of dwelling in the land of mediocrity.
Can Derek Dooley get the job done on the field? Possibly. Will he have enough time to prove this? Doubtful with the players he has recruited. I am not saying Dooley deserves to be fired, but if something special doesn't happen soon, he will be.
I hope Tennessee does well this season and I hope Dooley flourishes. But with the suspension of Rogers it looks increasingly unlikely. In December of 2011, I wrote that the Tennessee administration needs to place Dooley on a five-game probation period and I stand by this opinion.
Under Dooley, the Volunteers are now 11-14 overall and have a record of 4-12 in the SEC. In eight of their 14 losses, they have been defeated by 14 points or more and have only defeated three SEC teams—Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Ole Miss.
Here is the brutal truth—The Vols should always be a Top 25 team. They have all the needed resources, facilities and fanbase to be elite. However, they are close to taking up residence as a lower-tier SEC football team.
Tennessee opens the season with the following schedule:
- North Carolina State (N)
- Georgia State (H)
- Florida (H)
- Akron (H)
- Georgia (A)
If the Vols do not start the season 4-1, then Dooley needs to be fired immediately following the fifth game. This will allow the administration and athletic director to start a coaching search that will yield a competent coach.
2012 must be viewed as an “all-in” season. Tennessee is likely to lose Hunter to the NFL draft at the end of the 2012 season and Tyler Bray and Patterson could be gone as well. If Dooley cannot win 10 games in 2012, the Volunteers must fire him or they will set themselves back another five seasons.
This is not similar to Mark Richt and Les Miles having a couple of bad seasons. Those coaches had successful seasons prior to their drop-off.
Dooley, on the other hand, had been a head coach for five years and has only had one winning season. The height of his coaching career was an eight-win season at Louisiana Tech.
The cold truth is that Dooley is a great man, but the players he has recruited do not appear to be growing mentally. Bray was recently in hot water once again and is not showing the desired signs of growth. This passing game is the lone hope for the Vols football team.
I know that Derek Dooley is a good guy and has instituted several good programs at Tennessee. However, he is not winning football games and the silver lining is almost invisible.
My hope is that the removal of Rogers will unite the team. However, it may be too little, too late. If he wanted to make an example of Rogers he should had done it after the Kentucky fiasco.
Tennessee fans deserve better than what they have received. The Vols must win now or make changes swiftly.
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