Tennessee Volunteers Have Found the Rocky Bottom

John WhiteCorrespondent IIINovember 27, 2011

Say it aint so coach D!
Say it aint so coach D!

I think if Tyler Perry's beloved character Madea could sum up the Tennessee football season in one sentence, it would probably be, "Oh no you didn't!"

Unfortunately for those of us packing away our trademark orange attire, I'm afraid they did. The stats, or rather the lack thereof, speak for themselves.

What started out as a great and promising season has now come full circle back to 2008. The question that will bother most Vols fans is whether or not another new coach would do more harm than good.

Would the players abscond as quickly as they did under Phillip Fulmer and Lane Kiffin? Would we actually blame them if they did? What if current head coach Derek Dooley stayed and finished with similar results? Could they write a check big enough to tempt a high-profile coach and clean up six years' worth of dirty dishes in one season?

On paper, Gene Chizik was worse off than Dooley, and he turned Auburn around. But Tuberville also left him with a stocked cupboard. Fulmer and Kiffin didn't exactly leave filet mignon in the fridge, but they did manage to leave some bread and butter.

Oh my, excuses are great aren't they? They make us feel better about ourselves and give us validation against foolish hope and reasoning. I did it all year long.

My favorite was rationalizing that one player could doom the entire game. Or the classic, "If it had happened this way, there would have been a different outcome." Alas, by the end of the Arkansas game I gave up on game-winning scenarios and started hoping for field goals to bridge the deficit.

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My biggest question is how much breathing room athletic director Dave Hart will allow Dooley next season. Will seven, eight, nine, or more wins be enough to satisfy the multitude of Volniacs?

At Louisiana Tech, Dooley finished his tenure 17-20 before Will Muschamp talked former athletic director Mike Hamilton into hiring Dooley away. Needless to say, if he finishes next season with less-than-desirable results, he will have a similar record with the Vols that he had with the Bulldogs.

Excuse me one moment, I have to wash the bile from my throat.

So what do we do? Do we write our expectations in stone, or do we start taking resumes? Whatever we decide, we must take time to remember to be careful what we wish for.

Ahem, remember Lane Kiffin