Tennessee Football: Present and the Future

Glenn Clevenger, Sr.Contributor IJanuary 15, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12: A general view of Neyland Stadium before the start of a game between the UCLA Bruins and the Tennessee Volunteers on September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

As Tennessee Vols fans, when we think of or see a photo like this article's, we are  always reflective of the football teams that have played on this hallowed field throughout the years. 

Nothing exudes more excitement for a Vol fan than our memories of past games and the great athletes that have either passed through the "T" or entered onto the field before the "T" became such a tradition. 

Some of football's greatest athletes have played on Shield-Watkins Field both for Tennessee and many other great Division I schools throughout the years.

With these thoughts and the concern for our program as we search for a new head coach, we would be remiss if we failed to consider the part of athletic director Mike Hamilton failures in his past endeavors of filling this position.

The concern that the candidate or candidates for this job should have the knowledge necessary and the experience that is required for a coach to be competitive in a conference such as the SEC have been totally neglected by Hamilton. 

I am not saying that a young coach cannot compete in the conference but I do believe that anyone without a proven and successful resume such as Lane Kiffin would be severely handicapped to perform at a level that is required of any of the SEC's football coaches.  

There are some young coaches in our league; however, they came to the SEC with some success and a lot more experience than Kiffin. 

I do remember exception to this. There was a young coach achieved a great deal of success in the SEC without prior experience as a head coach, and in fact he was the  Tennessee's coach during the early 1970s. 

Bill Battle had been a student assistant under Bear Bryant at Alabama. He was very successful as he grew through the program without knowing the SEC well when he took over at Tennessee. 

I liked him tremendously, but even with success he was not treated very fairly and proved to be unsuccessful to remain as the coach even though his record dictated that he had earned the right to do so. 

The SEC is a tough place and a lot has changed since Battle's day.

I am certainly not trying to say he was perfect but he was good enough and should have received greater respect than he was actually afforded at the time. 

The reason I pointed out this coach is to show that even though a lot has changed over the years, this conference has always dictated that experience, knowledge and above all—integrity—are the most important characteristics in a position such as this one. 

Battle's woes here were not because of his losing record; he simply lacked the experience to stand against the will of his rivals and was eventually eaten alive. He had experienced the SEC and with his ability to adapt was why he won in this conference. 

It still was not enough to win the hearts of the powers at the time. 

And today, I fail to understand why Hamilton felt that that Kiffin would be the exception to the rule. 

I said then it made no sense and even less so now.

The only experience Kiffin had was from another conference and as an assistant coach.  

I am not going to go through all of the statistics of Kiffin's career; however, the reason I bring this up is to point out the great importance of our need to hire a coach that possesses the integrity, honesty, experience and coaching ability to perform at a level that is required at this time in Tennessee and the SEC. 

When you consider these traits or qualifications or whatever you choose to call them,  add the pure unadulterated love for Tennessee to do what is necessary to make our program achieve at the levels that we have all become accustomed to over the years, then the "short list" of candidates becomes even shorter. 

There is only one man out there right now that has everything we need to put Tennessee back where it belongs in today's SEC:  David Cutcliffe. 

Considering what we have been through, and after looking at the possible choices there is none that even makes sense other than Cutcliffe.  In addition to all of his football  qualifications, he genuinely cares about the kids who come into our program to play football.  He is an excellent role model; I am tired of this fact being left out of the equation. 

After all, isn't it supposed to be about the kids in the first place?

All I can say is, I hope with the present fiasco growing larger all the time, we need for the AD to make this thing happen quickly and with as little pain humanly possible. 

Will Hamilton have the courage to do the things that are necessary to get the final agreement made with Cutcliffe or will he continue to play his power control game at the expense of our school and our program?

I hope by this time tomorrow we will be welcoming Cutcliffe home so he can get on with  recruiting and all necessary responsibilities to get us back on the right track.