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In the last three years they have witnessed the end of the Fulmer era that, despite a BCS title in '98, seemed to drag on for ten years on a slow downward spiral. They have experienced some of the worst offensive football played in Neyland Stadium in 50 years, culminating in an embarrassing home loss to Wyoming in 2008.
Last season they experienced a mini-revival only to have their tradition and faithfulness dumped for the bright lights of Los Angeles by former coach Lane Kiffin, leading to their third head coach in three years.
The Vols are not expected to go far this season- by many accounts a bowl game would be a miracle. Still, on Saturday, against one of the weakest opponents to visit Knoxville in years, there they were by the thousands lined up three hours before kickoff to welcome their new underdog coach to his first game as a Volunteer before packing the stadium with 100,000 orange blooded supporters.
Volunteer fans are as humble and unassuming about this year's team as any in a long while. They patiently acknowledge the long rebuilding job that faces Dooley and the Vols in the next few years. They don't sell out games as easily in a down economy and this age of ESPN contracts, HDTV, and late night kickoffs, but they are always there.
As the Vols face a long season and a tough schedule, they should be encouraged to see that the Big Orange faithful are behind them, even when things get tough.