Of the fourteen coaches who start this season with the ultimate goal of reaching Atlanta, one sits on a hot seat and needs it more than the others. Derek Dooley is in his third season on Rocky Top, having gone 6-7 and 5-7 in his first two. The program in Knoxville is proud and distinguished - they want big wins now. You know you are in trouble when the coach is dropping crude expletives about beating Vanderbilt. In fact, Vanderbilt was the only conference win they notched last year. Let's look at the schedule:
Out of conference: NC State: mild advantage to the Wolfpack (Last year the Vols demolished Cincinnatti early in the season, but the Wolfpack is supposed to be good...)Georgia State (Easy win); Akron (Easy Win); Troy (a team that occasionally wins the Sun Belt, but should not be too hard to tackle) Best/Worst case: 4-0/3-1
Eastern Division: Florida in Neyland Statdium - it's a key game for both Dooley and Muschamp - last year, the Gators won by 10 in the Swamp. Georgia in week 6 will have all of its players back from suspension for the game in Athens - UGA won last year. South Carolina: one week after getting flooded by the Tide, the Vols have to visit Columbia, who beat them last year. Missouri: it's a must-see game just because it is their first season in the SEC. Vandy: the Dores will be hungry and at home. Kentucky: in yet another case, Phillips needs it as badly as does Dooley - Cats won last year. I see W's over KY, Vandy, and maybe MO. Best/Worst case: 3-3/1-5
Western Division: At Mississippi State - Mullen also needs this one badly and will be coming off Kentucky. Alabama: should be a slaughter in Tuscaloosa. Best/Worst case: 1-1/0-2 My pick - 1/1
I see 8 wins on the best case scenario. If he can play even in conference play, he will keep his job. Anything less, and he will need to pack up his orange pants for good.