When Do the Tennessee Vols Fans Start To Wake Up?

Jim FolsomContributorNovember 17, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Lane Kiffin the Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers is pictured during the SEC game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Neyland Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Imagine you are the University of Tennessee. You've had a pretty good football program for as long as anyone can remember. Not as good as the fanbase thinks it is, but not bad either. You have a coach who's been pretty successful. He's about 150-50 at your school. He also played for you and bleeds Tennessee Orange (or whatever that color is).

But he is getting a bit long in the tooth. And his team is slipping.

You look around at Penn State and Florida State, two programs you have wet dreams about. Though they are now mired in mediocrity, their coaches are college football legends. So legendary are they that they coach into their 80s, and their schools cannot get rid of them.

You don't want this to happen to you.

So after the third non-bowl season in five years, you decide it's time to make a move. You let the old coach go, and you need a new one. Who might he be? You got rid of a coach because he wasn't getting it done, so maybe it's time to hire someone who is the complete opposite.

Let's make a list:

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Old Coach: Old. What's the opposite? Young.

Old Coach: Fat. New Coach: In shape.

Old Coach: Outstanding football resume. New Coach: Resume you could write on a napkin.

Old Coach: Class guy, for the most part. New Coach: Loudmouth pain in the ass.

Old Coach: A former player for UT. New Coach: Never even heard of Tennessee.

Old Coach: Struggles with discipline problems among players. New Coach: Must promise he won't have these problems.

Who fits this profile?

How about that kid the Raiders just canned? You know, the one who got the job because of his daddy.

He's about as opposite from Fulmer as you can get. So you hire him. Didn't even bother to look at anyone else. Didn't interview anyone else. Didn't want to wait a week to see if anyone else might become available. You found the anti-Fulmer, and you hired him.

You cheered wildly at his offseason antics. You loved it when he made an ass of himself. Fulmer would have never done that. In fact, you are getting pretty sick of Fulmer's perceived inferiority complex whenever an Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Mark Richt, or Steve Spurrier entered the room.

Fulmer wasn't going to get in these guys' faces. Why would he? They beat him like a rented mule already.

Lanie has no problem with doing it though. He's used to losing. And he hasn't lost to these guys yet. Plus, he was in the NFL! Saban and Spurrier couldn't win in the NFL either. They got nothing on him. So you just love it when UT is ridiculed in the press because of him. "Hey, at least they notice us now," he reassures.

When the games begin, Lanie and the boys lay a whooping on some school from Kentucky. You proclaim that the Vols are back! They are going to shock the world! Next up is UCLA. That team beat us with the old coach. But bring them on. We've got a new guy, and we're playing in our house.

Uh-oh. They beat us again? Should we be pissed yet? Why not? He ran the ball up the middle from inside the three-yard line FOUR STRAIGHT TIMES! But we do still have Fulmer's QB. He sucks. Let's blame it on him.

Next up, Florida. We'll get killed in this game no matter who the coach is. But it wasn't so bad. We only lost by 10! Let's throw a party!

Now the coach is talking smack to Urban Meyer again. Isn't this great! Yeah, I know we're 1-2 again. But it feels a whole lot better than last year.

Then Auburn comes to town with a new coach who hasn't spent the whole year running his mouth. He's 4-0. Damn. After they kill us, he's 5-0.

Next? WOW! We destroyed Georgia. No matter that they are only a shadow of last year's team. We LOOK AWESOME! This new guy is turning it around!

A trip to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 1 team in the nation. We are out-playing them. We could actually beat them! TOUCHDOWN! Onside kick to help seal victory? GOT IT! Great catch, check. Still plenty of time left. We could score another touchdown!

Wait, what? A run up the middle? Why is the clock running? Call a time out! Spike the ball! DO SOMETHING! We're kicking a field goal from there? Haven't we already missed 100 of those today? BLOCKED! WAY TO GO! Do we start to grumble yet?

Hold on. We just slammed the Old Ball Coach. We're going to go to a bowl game! Maybe even one played on New Year's in Florida. What a recruiting trip that will be!

Uh-oh. What's this? Three of Lane's prized freshmen tried to rob somebody at a gas station? Huh? A PELLET GUN? And they get stuffed in the squad car wearing their UT-issue T-shirts? On camera? Great! Do we start wondering what we've done yet?

42-17? Complete domination by Ole Miss? The Rebels used to be an automatic win. And now they're killing us?

At 5-5, we've beaten Western Kentucky, Ohio (not State), Memphis (who fired their coach after losing to us), South Carolina, who will most likely end up under .500 again, and Georgia, who may fire their coach. Impressive.

Is it time to start grumbling yet? Can we at least question what we've done? Can we ask why the University of Tennessee hired a coach with a paper-thin resume and beyond-cocky attitude who didn't get a shining endorsement from any of his previous employers?

When do we get to? After a loss to Vanderbilt? Or Kentucky? When one of our players ends up on "America's Most Wanted?" Are we supposed to give him time to completely wreck the program?

We're getting tired of watching as the rest of the world laughs at us. When do we get to do something about it? Somebody please give us the signal.


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