jbintennessee's Blog
I have been attending Tennessee football games since 1974 and I can say that this is the most tumultuous time I've seen as a Vol fan. I can think of tough times before, but none rival what I've seen on Rocky Top over the past four years. The mid to late 70's were no fun, back when fans were saying that Bill Battle could recruit, but he couldn't coach on game day. 1992 was bad, the fan base was split between Fulmer and John Majors and the season came crashing down shortly following what many called a premature come back by Majors. I'm sure that other fans would cite the mid 60's as a rough time to be a Vol fan, but you could argue that no one has witnessed such negativity permeate the airwaves and print media as we are witnessing today. Former players are calling out the program, its players and coaches following Tennessee's ugly loss to Kentucky and a season of turmoil on the Hill. The explosion of the media age has armed every fan with a platform to express their displeasure with any topic they choose to write or blog about. Players and coaches maintain that they do not have time to read the forums and blogs on line, but that is just too hard for me to believe. Players are tweeting now and interacting with fans and some of what has been written can be interpreted in so many ways. As recent as last week, UT receiver Da'Rick Rogers tweeted to fans, if you can't be positive, don't say anything. Vol fans I know would respond to that tweet by saying, give us something, anything to be positive about. Tennessee has now concluded this year with a losing record, the second in as many years. Fans are not just disappointed, they are angry. Angry at what seems to be dissension on the team, angry at players taking last Saturday off in Lexington while losing to a woeful Wildcat football team. Fans are angry that the team is not getting better and that the program is currently mired in something just below mediocrity. Many fans are calling for the dismissal of Derek Dooley and his entire staff, saying that these guys, especially Dooley are in way over their heads and cannot compete in the rugged Southeastern conference. At Tennessee, losing is not acceptable, that is why I say all of this bad news, now must be viewed as good news for the long term prospects of Tennessee football. Things simply cannot go on as they have. I will not take time to discuss all of the factors that caused this seasons collapse, they have been discussed enough, what I will speak about is unity. It is pretty obvious to most Vol fans that our worst fears were realized this year. All season long, we have been scratching our heads wondering what is going on. Why is this team getting worse, not better? Even with the injuries to Hunter and Bray, we should have seen the team improve week by week, but that didn't happen. It is now clear that it wasn't just the lack of experience or the lack of coaching that caused the Vols to play so poorly, it was a lack of unity and cohesiveness in the locker room. Tauren Poole and Austin Johnson, both seniors, told reporters that many players were more concerned with stats than they were for the team. When players are playing for themselves, the team will not get better. It is now obvious that changes need to be made. Changes in what players are recruited, and changes in regards to the expectations of each player. Vol coaches must go back to work, teach the fundamentals and teach each player how to play for the team, not themselves. It is time, now, to start all over again as a program and teach each new recruit the importance of school pride, of honor and integrity. Former players like Bobby Scott, Tim Priest, Jack Reynolds, Dale Jones, Eric Swanson and many others took great pride in putting on that orange shirt and sporting that T on the side of their helmets. It meant something to play for the University of Tennessee. The players today seem to be more concerned with making it to the league than they are in playing on a winning team with pride and dignity. Now, this cannot be said for all players. There are players on this years Tennessee team that take pride in playing for the Vols, I just don't think that there are enough of them. I personally would like to see players take a stand, starting now, and make a real effort in restoring the pride that once permeated the football program, pride that has been lost since the departure of Phil Fulmer. My advice, before each practice and game, bring back a former player like Jason Swain, Fred White, Eric Swanson and Al Wilson, and let them speak to the team about what it meant to them to play for the Vols. They could teach them about the winning tradition and history that millions of fans are proud of. Things can't get much worse in my opinion, so therefore, I believe its time to restore the program to its former glory. It is obvious that something has to be done, and the time is now. I believe that recent events have forced UT administration, coaches and players to reevaluate where the program is, what has caused its demise, and what it will take to bring it back. There's no place to go but up, and its time to get started. Air out all of the dirty laundry now, during the off-season, get rid of all cancers that are present and start with a renewed commitment to excellence. I believe that this is the turning point for a new day on Rocky Top.


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