Tennessee Football: 5 Reasons Why UT Wins the SEC East (and 5 Why It Won't)
Can it be done? There are certainly more people saying no than yes. The people who are saying yes, are most likely wearing orange. I think that's to be expected.
The Vols are still a very young team with only a small handful of veterans, so the numbers seem a little unbalanced when you stack them against East favorites South Carolina, and NCAA Championship favorites Alabama.
Back to those guys wearing orange. Those same guys last season were told they wouldn't even make it to a bowl game. So the only questions are why, either way.
They Won't Because of the Competition
The SEC is scarier than ever. In the West you have Auburn, Alabama, and LSU who could all be contenders for the BCS championship right now. And even Arkansas and Mississippi State are flirting with contention at conference rivals.
Then there is the East; Florida is rebuilding, but still just as dangerous. Georgia is somewhat down yet still remains a wild-card in the win column, and then there is South Carolina being led by arguably one of this century's most prolific coaches in Steve Spurrier.
So by reason of sheer logic, losing is the most viable answer.
They Will Because They Forget to Lay Down
Call it prestige or just plain stubbornness; whatever fits, it's something. To be honest those guys wearing orange weren't supposed to win more than four games last season, but they did.
They even made it to a bowl game. They lost, but they were there. Being at the dance is a lot better than being a wallflower.
But I digress, Vols have a habit of messing up the numbers for the rest of the SEC. Tennessee wasn't even picked to beat Kentucky last year.
It's hard to keep Tennessee down even when they are just that, down. Just ask LSU.
They Won't Because They Fall Short
Like the slide before, you can also ask LSU how the Vols manage to choke. Last season, the Vols were within a hair of beating LSU but managed to let something as simple as counting players cost them their first win against an SEC team.
The loss was also hard to bear as the game had been legitimately won before the penalty. The Gators and Bama know something about the Vols choking also.
I understand if you have no interest in reviewing this video, I still get nauseous when I think about it.
They Will Because of the Fans
I've been here, and if the hair on the back of your neck doesn't stand up when the Pride of the Southland Marching Band goes by trumpeting "Rocky Top," then you aren't a fan.
I've talked to dozens of players and they all agreed on one thing. When the fans joined in for the chorus, it would grow from the student section then circle the stadium in an instant. The instantaneous volume gave them an extra push.
Peyton Manning was even rumored to look for specific fans before the start of each game. The same is also rumored for Eric Berry and Jason Witten. The players depend on the fans; without them, it's nothing more than backyard smash.
They Won't Because of the Fans
You know who you are.
Have you seen the players' faces as they watch the fans leave like this. Fair weather fans just don't help. I remember back when Fulmer took over for Johnny Majors. The influx of fans was astounding.
Those same people quickly jettisoned themselves when games were lost early. You can't see the players here, but put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if your prestigious devout fans abandoned you this way.
They Will Because He Was Mentored by the Best
They chastise Derek Dooley on a consistent basis now because of his early record at Louisiana Tech, well...even the great Nick Saban stumbled early on in his career http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/coaches/nick-saban-1.html.
The fact of the matter is that Derek Dooley was taught how to win like a champion, but the time has not yet arrived. He will do great things. The question is whether Volniacs can wait.
They Won't Because Derek Dooley Will Try Too Hard
We've all seen his tirades. He is sometimes reminiscent of Mike Leach. I have no doubt that Coach Dooley means well, shoot, I've rung a facemask before myself to get someone's attention.
But as Mike Leach and Darth Vader will tell you, once you start down that dark path, you are forever consumed by the dark side. You ever hear Mike Leach (really) issue a public apology? Me neither.
I don't know, maybe a Prozac or something (just kidding, not advocating drug use).
They Will Because the Coaches Are Experienced
From full staff coaches to assistants, there is over 200 years worth of combined coaching experience currently teaching Vol players. From the NCAA to the NFL, the Volunteer staff is well equipped to advance the young Vols.
Two key individuals who are most likely to be over-looked are OL coach Harry Hiestand and LB coach Peter Sirmon.
Harry Hiestand is quickly developing the OL into serious contenders for All-SEC. His pro skills are translating into professional mentalities. His work was evident last season; the OL began to demonstrate their improved team work from the South Carolina to the end. The most improved part of the team will be the OL, and that equals points on the board.
Peter Sirmon has yet to be proven, but he will morph his NFL skills into the LBs that he learned from five years as a starting LB for the Titans. It will be a great improvement over last year's confusing performance. The added talent at player and coach will make the difference.
They Won't Because Hamilton's Curse Has Lasting Power
I know you are scratching your head so I will get to the point.
If former Vol AD Mike Hamilton had bound guys like current FSU and former Lane Kiffin assistant Eddie Gran, the Vols would be reaping the benefits of a tremendous recruiter.
Not to mention, Gran was responsible for fostering RBs like Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, Heath Evans, Kenny Irons, Deuce McCallister and John Avery.
Even now, the Vols are plagued with a couple of assistants that no respectable AD would have never allowed. Poor leadership kills.
They Will Because Tennessee Needs It
Oh, I know it all seems very wishy-washy. Even my most ardent fans will roll their eyes as they read this, but it's true.
The program has suffered through so much over the last five years that nothing short of complete success is acceptable. There is nothing that Derek Dooley would like more than to serve up an SEC championship to the esteem-starved Volniacs.
And, it's possible.
Pound for pound and 40 yard dash etc., the Vols are just as quick and strong as the rest of the SEC. They just need a little more directing than most because they are so young.
But remember, even the impossible is made possible my believing it isn't so.