Tennessee Football: Only Thing More Underrated Than Team Is Coaching Staff

Kevin KingSenior Analyst IIAugust 24, 2012

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When the whole nation has low expectations, any good news is big news.

There's been big news lately, but it wasn't good. Still, the beat goes on. Tennessee coaches and players are getting ready for their debut. And people are going to be surprised when it comes off as good news—just the way this team would have hoped.

Around the University of Tennessee these days, good news reports have been few and far between. A rare situation for a team like Tennessee—and one this coaching staff is taking full advantage of. 

In the over 40 years I have followed Tennessee football, I don't ever recall a Volunteer team with less expected from them (outside their own fan base) than the 2012 edition. Freshly lumped in with the already bottomed out expectations is the news that their No. 1 receiver has been suspended indefinitely.

That's it! That does it! Can the news get any worse? Already, headlines are appearing about how this may be the final blow to Derek Dooley's coaching career at UT.

Even articles written about other things are ending with statements that make it seem this latest "disaster" may be more than this team can handle in 2012.

Really? Are you people serious?

Sure, Da'Rick Rogers is a great receiver. You can't deny this kid's talent. You also can't deny that the kid has been a powder keg, ready to blow, since day one.

It should be obvious to all now that the recruiting and signing of Cordarrelle Patterson was a coaching staff planning ahead. They were taking a step in preparation, just in case the keg blew.

At the time he signed, I thought, uh oh, this will be trouble. Someone will get upset because they aren't getting enough touches.

Then I thought, well, Rogers will probably go in the draft after this year, so maybe it will work out. Or, what if Justin Hunter doesn't come back 100 percent?

My guess now is the staff considered those things, but also in their reasoning was one other thought. It was: What if Da'Rick Rogers screws up? Sure, if he doesn't, we still have the backup. But, in case he does, let's do this.

The notion that losing Da'Rick Rogers will tank UT this year is ridiculous. He is one receiver—and undeniably a very good one—but there are others.

You may ask, what about what happened to the Vols last year with injuries? Yes, I agree, they were badly hurt by the injuries last season.

The difference is this season they can—and have—plugged in another 4 or 5-star recruit for Rogers. And, knock on wood; hopefully they don't also lose their starting quarterback again this season. But if they do, Justin Worley has playing experience he did not have last season.

Outside of Volunteer nation this year, expectations for the players and the coaching staff are low. Nobody really expects UT to win their first game. Many expect them to be 2-3 after the first five games.

By the way, if you want to know what this writer thinks the loss of Da'Rick Rogers will do to this team in game one, please read my article about the matchup here on B/R.

I say this is a great position for the team—as well as the coaching staff—to take full advantage of. Just give the reporters the old "aw shucks, don't know how we slipped by them" routine for as long as they will buy it.

At least during that time period, you won't have to deal with trying to convince your guys they are not all-world, like it says in the articles or on ESPN.

Though those statements and reports will be as ridiculous, I have to admit, I do miss those times so.