Kiffin, Dooley and UT Football
What you might ask do I know about football. That would be a legitimate question. I do watch it. I attend home and occasional away games. I am married to a former UT football captain so I hear a lot of talk about football, but my blog today is not really about the game but about the turmoil created by our last two coaches and the recovery period that ensued after their departures. Lane Kiffin, who high tailed it out of town after only one year, found his “dream job” and shafted the Orange faithful for southern California. In his fourth year there, fans are chanting “Fire Kiffin” before the game, during the game and after the game. He will be gone during this season or shortly thereafter. Maybe we got lucky only having him as our head coach for one year.
Dooley, on the other hand, gave us three years of poor recruiting, poorer coaching on the field and even worse, a lack of respect for his players, fellow coaches and staff, according to people who worked for and with him. So we thank him for setting our program back by giving him a buyout of a few million dollars. Is it no wonder the athletics department has to borrow money from academics? Until the presidents of NCAA universities step up and stop this kind of madness, all football programs will be in trouble (except maybe Alabama).
Enter Butch Jones, a new kind of football coach, at least compared to the last two. He appears to have the respect of the players. The players are giving effort on the field ; he’s included the former players in his circle of friends and he’s engaged in our community. All of these things are critical if you are going to be a successful Vols football coach. And he’s blown the roof off recruiting for 2014. He’s banking enough “political capital” with the fans and the community to suffer a few losses but my hunch is he will be a winner before very long. He seems to have the right stuff.
It’s just a game, right? Well, it’s more than a game in our state. It’s big business. Some consider SEC football their religion. I am not one of them but I do appreciate that a winning team is a big deal to our economy and to the University’s marketing strategy. It appears that after a four-year (or longer if you count Coach Fulmer’s last few years) drought, happy days are on the horizon for UT football. Restaurants will be crowded, cars will sell, orange stuff will be bought everywhere and there will be smiles in Big Orange Country once again. Life is good.