Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Clinging To Ole Teddy

"Ole Teddy" the teddy bear was a great source of comfort for kids, who feared the dark. Cuddling up with "Ole Teddy" took those fears away and helped you get through the night until you awoke to the rising sun.

The fan base of the University of Tennessee football team is about to awake to a beautiful sunrise this Sunday, as the source of darkness will be officially fired and no longer a part of the University of Tennessee football program. Its Tennessee Independence Day! The spell is broken and the chains will fall free! Football season will, once again, be be something to look forward to with anticipation and glee.

The UT football coaching search is in full gear and UTAD, Mike Hamilton is searching near and far to deliver a coach to UT, who will bring fresh ideas and a change to the UT football program. After-all, Phil Fulmer and his remora-like cronies have sucked the life-blood out of the UT football program.

The candidates range from old stogy NFL coaching types to young "gun-slinging" coaches. All have more head coaching experience than Phil Fulmer has, when he was given the head coaching job by Doug Dickey in 1992. The comparisons of the younger coaches to Bill Battle were bound to come up, but remember this is 35 plus years later. Todays' "young-guns" coaches, are smarter, have fresher ideas, relate to the young prospects and players better, and do not cling to the fear of failure. Failure, after-all, is a paralyzer.

The fans who want to continue to cling to this culture of fear, induced on them by old Tennessee football, should continue to cling tight to their teddy bears. That may give them some comfort next fall. Those of us fans, who look forward with anticipation to the changes in UT football next season and beyond, threw away our security blankets and put "Ole Teddy" away in mothballs a long time ago. Its time that University of Tennessee fans put away their fears and face the challenges of the modern football landscape with courage and foresight to trust the modern "young-gun" marvels of the coaching profession.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The "Home Run" Hire

Just what do Volunteer fans want out of their new football coach?

Many of the Volunteer faithful thought that their soon to be ex-coach was the answer, until they finally took off their blindfolds and realized that they had been duped by a circus hypnotist posing as a coach. Many of the Orange and White faithful thought that they had been lusting after the coaching version of Farrah Fawcet, only to have snapped out of the trance and saw that they actually had been ogling Rosie O'Donnell.

Okay......what is it that Vols fans want and need in its next coach?

Most UT fans feel that whomever Mike Hamilton hires, he had better step to the plate like Hammering Hank Aaron himself and hit a "home run" or else. The University of Fulmer fans will tell you that he had better hit a "home run" with this hire because he Hamilton fired their object of worship. The rest of Big Orange Country just wants to start competing for Championships as we did throughout the much of the 1990's.

So, what do fans mean when they demand that Mike Hamilton make a "home run" hire? Does it mean that Mike Hamilton must hire a marquee name such as Butch Davis or Bob Stoops? Could it mean that whomever Mike Hamilton hires brings the offensive system flavor of the day? Does it mean that the hire should be someone who will change the current team culture and forge a new culture on "The Hill"?

Before fans create their expectations and perceptions of Volunteer football program's future, they need to pull out their road atlas and look at just where on the "roadmap of collegiate football" the UT football program is at. The Vols program was busted flat and relocated to "Rock Bottom" by outgoing coach, Phil Fulmer. Whomever takes the reigns of the program, had better be able to come in and immediately change the culture. He will have to have a plan that he can instill in the players and the players must buy into the philosophy. The UT football program will not be about conducting business as usual, but rather it will conducted in the ways seen fit by the new coach. Some of the old University of Fulmer cadre will not like much of the change one bit, but it is the best thing that could ever happen to the Volunteer football program.

The new coach, in all honesty, will be expected to turn the UT program around and rightfully so. However, to expect the new coach to win SEC Championships right out of the gate, with the half-bare cupboard that Fulmer has left, would be delusional. The soon to be hired UT coach will need to be a gung-ho recruiter who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and engage himself in the recruiting battles for the top prep players in the nation. A strong "identity" will go a long way in helping to secure the services of these future student-athletes. That source of this "identity" could be a well known name, a effective offensive system, or a combination of the two. No matter what, the Vols need an infusion of top talent badly. Losing to the Wyoming Cowboys on your home field is not something the Volunteer faithful should have to get used to doing.

"But Brother Bluto! We can't have a coach who would use Tennessee as a stepping stone....." Don't get caught up in this self-imposed trap. As mentioned earlier, we afforded Phil Fulmer that opportunity and he looked upon our offerings as his entitlement and kingdom, while he sank the program into the depths of despair. Hopefully a new coach will be able to turn this ship around sooner than later. We would not expect him to stay any longer than 7-8 years-ten at the most. Most coaches lose their vigor by that time and lose their fire to be the best. If he wants to leave UT after rebuilding the program, then so be it and lets move on.

Whatever Mike Hamilton does or whomever he chooses, lets hold hope that hires a strong person, who will stress discipline, carry himself with dignity, and who will change much of the culture of arrogance that has rotted away the core of the University of Tennessee football program. In doing so, we can count on some new traditions being established, added to existing traditions, and enjoyed by University of Tennessee Volunteer fans for years to come.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Dry Martini, Shaken Not Stirred

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, and Mike Hamilton....huh? That can't be right can it?

The University of Tennessee coaching search has been conducted on a level so secretive that you would swear you could hear Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" in the background. The media is in a tizzy because Mike Hamilton has slipped out the secret staircase in the library and taken on his new personna, secret agent 008.

The instant gratification seeking internet fans are upset because they are being kept in the dark by Hamilton and the media. Some are upset that they are claiming that Hamilton has been turned down by every coach in the national coaches convention. Geez, get a grip.

Common sense would tell you that the reason that his "my lips are sealed" behavior in this manhunt is to protect the candidate's and their teams as they head down the home stretch of this football seasons. It would be unfair for Hamilton to spill the beans that he is discussing a contract with "coach of the day", as his team prepares for their big game for all of the marbles.

The announcement of the results of his cloak and dagger mission will tell us a lot about just who he has worked out a deal with. An announcement right after the final game would tell us that the new coach is either not working somewhere or his team is out of the hunt for their league's championship or even the national championship picture. An announcement after mid December would likely mean that the new coach is preparing his team for a very meaningful run at a chmapionship...either at the collegiate or NFL level.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Bid is to You, Mr. Hamilton

Several weeks ago, something very rare happened in college football. Rare, as in Halley's Comet-type rare: Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan and Notre Dame all lost on the same day. At the time, all of them were unranked with a combined record of 11-13. I'm sure they've all lost on the same day before. It's probably happened more than once. But the significance here has less to do with the results of each team on that dubious day. Rather, it's the direction of the teams, and it cannot be overstated.

Although Michigan is suffering this season, Rich Rodriguez is a fine coach who employs an exciting brand of football. He's also a great recruiter. When he gets his type of player wearing the maize and blue, and it's only a matter of time, the rest of the Big Ten will be playing catch-up with him no different than the SEC did with Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators during the 90's. Notre Dame has been borderline laughable but this just in, the Irish are beginning to show signs of life. It's almost unfathomable to imagine Charlie Weis not getting the Irish back into college football's elite. And in Lincoln, although Nebraska has suffered a few beatdowns this season at the hands of Missouri and Iowa State, they stand at 5-3, could very easily be 7-1, and folks there will quickly tell you they sense a very different atmosphere, and future, under first-year coach Bo Pelini.

And what of the Tennessee Volunteers?

Tennessee counts three teams as their primary rivals: Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The general wisdom in college football is that a coach needs to beat his rivals to beat reporters to questions about his job status. And while some numbers in sports can be deceiving, even a team's won-loss record, this one has no argument: The past two seasons, Tennessee is 1-5 against their Big Three, having been outscored 199-101. Take out the lone 35-14 Vols win vs. Georgia last season and those other five losses work out to 185-66.

Admit it, you thought that was an old Florida-Tennessee score from the Swamp didn't you?

On Saturday night in Neyland Stadium, there were the Vols lined up against their longtime rival, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But a quick look around the stands told you a few things were just a bit out-of-sorts.

Who knew the allotment of tickets for Alabama was closer to 20,000 than approximately 9500? And if you were paying attention, there were noticeable empty spots in the upper deck student section. Students passing up a Saturday night in Neyland Stadium against the Akron Zips might be understandable. But this was the #2, and properly hated, Alabama Crimson Tide. And if you really want to stretch the point, even Alabama's Million Dollar Band seemed twice as large as normal because they dwarfed anything coming out of Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Marching Band. I received a text message from a friend asking "did the Tennessee band make it on time for the game?"

The real question is whether the Vols made it on time for the season.

After Alabama showed their clear superiority in beating the Vols 29-9, leaving UT at 3-5, there is only one question that needs to be on the table for Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton: Mr. Hamilton, is your list a long one or a short one?

I have always been one who is firmly in the camp of Hamilton. I still am. This notion put forth by many that he's - pick one - a Fulmer puppet, a figurehead, unable to lead a program like Tennessee, only cares about Neyland being full is shortsighted, at best. Many try to brush aside credit for the hire of Bruce Pearl, saying it was all thanks to Ernie Grunfeld. Those same fans forget he stood his ground with many deep inside the UT family who loved Buzz Peterson, insisting a change wasn't necessary.

Hamilton has shown a deft touch in leading the renovation, and building, of facilities as well as possessing a clear conscience when he's needed to hire, or fire, a coach. But in every case, it may be fairly stated none of those decisions rank with what surely lies ahead of him.

Based not only on the results of this season, but the direction - there's that word again - this program seems to have been heading for more than a few years now, it's hard to come to any conclusion other than the Tennessee Volunteers, under its present leadership, are finished. Done.

Unless the Vols are playing a ranked team, their score appears on an ESPN crawl somewhere betweeen games from the Mid-American and Sun Belt Conferences. Highlights? On the internet, yes. On network television, come on.

That may not seem significant to some fans but the bottom line is that Tennessee is no longer relevant. They no longer matter. Oh, the Vols will always matter to their fans, just as Kentucky and Mississippi State matter to their fans. But like UK and MSU, no one on the national scene cares or even notices.

There's an old adage among actors in professional theatre that says it's always better to receive a bad review than no review at all. At least someone was watching you.

In college football, Tennessee no longer receives reviews.

CGabriel is a radio talk show host, freelance writer and voiceover artist. A native of Chicago, he makes his home in Minneapolis with the three loves of his life: His beautiful wife and two daughters.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sinking Ships

The HMS Hood was the pride of the British Fleet for close to forty years. Many considered her to be the finest and mightiest battleship to sail the seas. The British Navy, after-all, had been the greatest navy for the better part of two centuries. Even considering making changes to upgrade the majestic HMS Hood seemed foolish to British leaders.

While the Brits basked in the glory of their imagined naval supremacy, other nations were working hard to improve their fleets, making their battleships bigger, faster, and more lethal.

One day at the Battle of The Denmark Strait, the German super-battleship Bismarck engaged in battle with the supposedly invincible Hood. In less than ten minutes, the Bismarck blew the HMS Hood out of the water while sending more than 1,500 English sailors to a watery grave. In the blink of an eye, the British Navy discovered their naval capability was obsolete.

Worse, was the realization their arrogance might cost them their survival in World War II.

Fast-forward sixty years into the future. In a land across the "Big Pond" on a different battlefield of skills, the University of Tennessee football program shared a similar air of arrogant supremacy. The leaders of the program and its fans were living off of its national championship from a decade earlier. Meanwhile, other rival programs went out and hired the best coaches they could find while assembling staffs with the best assistant coaches in the business. All the while, the University of Tennessee football program sat still, doing little to improve itself. They believed one magical season gave them equity; that somehow they would be able to continue dominating other schools in its conference. The Volunteer braintrust continued telling fans the program was in great shape, and would continue to be that way, as long as head coach Phillip Fulmer was in charge.

There were many fans who foresaw the fall of the this once-mighty football program but were made out to be malcontents. Some went as far to call them the "legion of the miserable." How dare anyone question Phil Fulmer and the direction he charted for the University of Tennessee football program? Vols fans were told no other coach could love the University of Tennessee more than Phil Fulmer.

No one else could do job quite the way he could do it.

Now that thousands of University of Tennessee fans have seen the Volunteer ship take on water, they've come to the realization the football program is a sinking ship, sharing the same fate as the HMS Hood.

The sinking of the University of Tennessee football program did not have to happen. Unfortunately, it is happening because its leaders and boosters are too caught up in their stranglehold of power within the program. Arrogance and selfishness have ruled the day too many times for this ship to not sink.

It is now time to call for a change. Phillip Fulmer, please resign. Mike Hamilton, please offer Phillip Fulmer the opportunity to resign. And if he refuses, fire him.

Sending out an S.O.S.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Phil Fulmer's Record Since 1998 Season

Phil Fulmer's failures did not just begin this season nor did they begin with the 2005 season. Phil Fulmer has left behind a long pattern of failure. All one had to do was look and it was there for all to see.

Fulmer's record since 1998:
* Losses to unranked teams 6 years in a row
* 6 consecutive seasons with 3 or more losses (8 out of last 9)
* 4 year records immediately following national championship:
- Fulmer ranks 57th out of 77 national champions since 1936
- Fulmer ranks 18th out of last 19 national champions?
* Overall record 2005 - 2007: 18-13 (.581)
* Overall record 2002 - 2007: 46-24 (.657); worse than any 5 year stretch since 1980 - 1984
* SEC games 2005 - 2008 10-11
* SEC East games 2005 - 2008: 6-7
* 4-10 (.286) vs. Ranked Teams 2005 - present
* Lost 5 out of last 6 games vs. ranked teams (last 4 losses were non-competitive)
* 2006 Vol rushing defense gave up more yards per carry (4.70) than any Vol team since UTAD begin keeping the stats in 1951?

* Consecutive seasons without SEC title: 9
* Consecutive seasons without BCS bowl: 8
* Consecutive seasons without top 10 ranking: 6

* Seasons excluded from AP and/or Coaches Top 25: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 (and probably 2007)
* Seasons with 3 or more losses: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
* Seasons with 4 or more losses: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007
* Seasons with 5 or more losses: 2002, 2005
* Seasons with multiple losses to unranked teams: 2003, 2005, 2007

* Consecutive seasons with a loss in last two games of season: 8
* Seasons with double digit postseason loss: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 (every year they played in the postseason)

UT SEC Titles
* 1933 - 1939 - 2
* 1940 - 1949 - 2
* 1950 - 1959 - 2
* 1960 - 1969 - 2
* 1970 - 1979 - 0
* 1980 - 1989 - 2
* 1990 - 1999 - 3
* 2000 - 2007 - 0

Longest intervals without SEC title:
1. 1970 - 1984 (Bill Battle was fired)
2. 1957 - 1966 (Bowden Wyatt was fired)
3. 1999 - current
4. 1991 - 1996 (Majors was fired)
5. 1933 - 1937 (SEC formed in 1933 - Neyland was away in 1935)
5. 1941 - 1945 (Neyland was away during WWII - no team in 1943)
7. 1947 - 1950
7. 1952 - 1955 (Neyland retired after 1952)
9. 1986 - 1988
10. 1968

Records Versus Top SEC Coaches
* 4-8 (.333) vs. Spurrier: (2-3 since 1998)
* 0-4 (.000) vs. Meyer
* 3-4 (.429) vs. Richt
* 1-3 (.250) vs. Tuberville (at AUB after 98, 3-3 overall)
* 1-3 (.250) vs. Saban
* 9-22 (.290) vs. above 5 coaches

* SEC teams that Fulmer has a winning record vs. the current head coach: KY, Vandy, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and ARK

Records Versus Better SEC Schools
* 10-19 (.345) 1999 - present vs. FL, GA, LSU, AUB (thank God for Zook!)
* 8-18 (.308) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA, LSU, AUB
* 6-17 (.261) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA, LSU, AUB excluding games vs. Zook
* 6-16 (.273) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA, AUB
* 4-13 (.235) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA, AUB excluding games vs. Zook
* 6-11 (.353) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA
* 4-10 (.286) 2000 - present vs. FL, GA excluding games vs. Zook
* 3-5 (.375) 2000 - present vs. GA

Record Versus Top Ten Opponents
* 8-16 (.333) vs. Top 10 teams 1999 - present
* 1-8 (.111) vs. Top 10 teams at home 2000 - present
* 6-14 (.300) vs. Top 10 teams 2000 - present
* 18-24 (.429) vs. Ranked Teams 1999 - present
* 9-17 (.346) vs. Ranked Teams 2002 - present

Bowl Game Performance
* 4-6 (.400) Bowl games since 1998 (all losses were by double digits)
* 5-6 (.455) Postseason record since 1998 including SECCG (all losses were by double digits)

National recruiting rankings:
* 2003 FL 2 TN 5
* 2004 FL 7 TN 12
* 2005 TN 2 FL 13 (Zook was fired and Meyer was just hired)
* 2006 FL 5 TN 24
* 2007 FL 2 TN 6
(Phil Steele's rankings which are a composite compilation of many recruiting services rankings)

Losses To Unranked Teams:
1. 2008 UCLA 27 TN 24.
2. 2007 AL 41 TN 17
3. 2006 PSU 20 TN 10
4. 2005 Van 28 TN 24
5. 2005 SC 16 TN 15
6. 2004 ND 17 TN 13
7. 2003 Clem 27 TN 14
8. 2003 Aub 28 TN 21
9. 2001 GA 26 TN 24
10. 2000 LSU 38 TN 31
11. 1999 Ark 28 TN 24

Non-competitive games (see footnotes also)
1. 1999 NEB 31 TN 21
2. 2000 GA 21 TN 10 (1)
3. 2000 KSU 35 TN 21
4. 2001 LSU 31 TN 20 (2)
5. 2002 FL 30 TN 13
6. 2002 AL 34 TN 14
7. 2002 Miami 26 TN 3
8. 2002 MD 30 TN 3
9. 2003 AUB 28 TN 21 (3)
10. 2003 GA 41 TN 13
11. 2003 CLEM 27 TN 14
12. 2004 AUB 34 TN 10
13. 2004 AUB 38 TN 28 (4)
14. 2005 GA 27 TN 14 (5)
15. 2005 ND 41 TN 21
16. 2006 ARK 31 TN 14
17. 2006 PSU 20 TN 10 (6)
18. 2007 CAL 45 TN 31 (7)
19. 2007 FL 59 TN 20
20. 2007 AL 41 TN 17
21. 2008 FL 30 TN 6

Cliffhanger wins vs. weak teams (see footnotes also)
1. 1999 TN 17 Memphis 16
2. 2000 TN 19 Southern Miss 16
3. 2000 TN 19 Memphis 17
4. 2000 TN 28 Vandy 26
5. 2001 TN 38 KY 35
6. 2003 TN 34 Marshall 24 (
7. 2003 TN 23 SC 20 (9)
8. 2003 TN 23 Duke 6 (10)
9. 2004 TN 21 Miss 17
10. 2004 TN 38 Vandy 33
11. 2004 TN 37 KY 31
12. 2005 TN 17 UAB 10
13. 2005 TN 20 Memphis 16
14. 2006 TN 31 Air Force 30
15. 2006 TN 17 KY 12 (11)
16. 2007 TN 27 SC 24
17. 2007 TN 25 VU24
18. 2007 TN 52 KY 50

Since 1998, 53 out of 124 games (42.7%) have been losses to unranked teams, games the Vols were not competitive in, or narrow victories over weak teams.

Only AP polls were used for ranking purposes.
(1)One could legitimately question the inclusion of this game, but the loss dropped the Vols to 0-3 in the SEC, they lost by double digits, and the offense was anemic at best.
(2) The final score was not a blowout, but LSU outscored TN 24-3 in the second half after losing their starting QB and RB, and it was a double digit loss. The Vols also blew a shot at the NC.
(3) AUB dominated the game, and would have shut the door after going up 35-7 if not for an incorrect call wiping out an obvious AUB TD (replays by officials were not in effect yet).
(4) AUB had 36 FDs and almost 600 yards. When TN tied it up, AUB just cranked up the offense again and put the game away, and had the ball DEEP in TN territory when the game ended. TN defense was totally clueless and offense was comatose until second half.
(5) TN given a controversial TD on last play of game.
(6) This game was mainly included because TN QUIT at the end of the game, and it was a double digit bowl loss yet again also.
(7) Late fumble by CAL on the TN goal-line prevented it from being a 21 point loss.( Marshall might well have won if the Marshall QB had not knocked himself out of the game celebrating a TD with a jumping chest bump.
(9) SC was 5-7, 2-6 in the SEC that year.
(10) The game was included because TN only led 9-6 well into the 4th quarter, and they were so BAD the coach had already been fired. TN did not score a TD until Duke fumbled in their own territory. Duke had the ball 8 minutes more than the Vols, but missed 2 FG attempts also.
(11) OK, KY was not a weak team LY, but they are still KY, who has not beaten the Vols since 1984.

Dead Man Walking

Could change be in the air on "The Hill"?

According to a post on OutermonVOLia from AtlantaVol, the signs are pointing to the end of the current regime.

"I dare not get my hopes up too far after all these years and especially after Hamilton caved into pressure and gave Knoxville Phil the chance to write his own contract a few months ago. But ALL the signs point to this being the final season of UT fans having their teeth slowly pulled out without any anesthesia, which is what it has been like to watch UT FB under this creep HC. And then for years he has said these stupid-assed things to the press that just pour salt in the wound.

But look at all the signs now and tell me you haven't seen this before in hundreds of cases when the HC is a Dead Man Walking as a HC?

1) Lose to a terrible UCLA team and struggle with UAB who is terrible on defense. Then get blown off your home field for 2nd year in a row of blowout loss to one of your 2-3 main rivals. This comes on top of a 9 year slide and the 2005 season. This comes on top of the poor recruiting in 2006 and again this year 2008. Even the announcers are now saying UT simply doesn't have the talent to hang with better teams. All of this isn't lost on virtually ANYONE now. When TV announcers start saying what we have said for years and virtually every newspaper writer in the entire state is calling for an end to this regime THEN the fan base starts to really get on board. And when they do then it is very hard to get off. IMO it will take a 3-1 record against AU, UGA, AL, and USC to save his ass. IMO a 2-2 record will not do it.

2) Players start parroting the same silly things a HC is saying. They are also dissing the fans and saying a lot of nonsense. These are young guys who see their HC in disarray and they have no experience on how to handle this. You saw the EXACT same thing at Miami about 2 years ago and you saw it with UGA players when Donnan was released. There will be even more bluster from players as the season goes IMO. Many will threaten to transfer if Fulllmer is released but in fact very few, if any, will actually do so. But the way the players are reacting is CLASSIC for when a HC is a Dead Man Walking.

3) And then the quotes by Philll Fulllmer. They are absolutely CLASSIC for a HC who is a Dead Man Walking. He starts to take responsibility for his teams poor play but quickly throws the punter under the bus and then defiantly says "we didn't all of a sudden become stupid around here". He also points out the 148 wins at every chance he gets. he THEN essentially says the fans are "stupid" and they shouldn't be booing if they haven't played sports. He gets his dander up every time he opens his mouth. This is just CLASSIC for a HC who knows the end is near.

4) I have heard that even his buddies like Karl Schledwitz are backing off and playing politician with this. They are scurrying for cover and trying to let
someone else be the hammer to Fulmer but they are doing nothing to stop the hammer from being dropped.

5) And then the fan base is FINALLY coming around. As CBFD says below- our fan base has had the Batterred Wife Syndrome soooooo bad the last 5-6 years. I talk to fans and even kinfolk who are not stupid people but they parrot the crazy feelings that UT is hosed because of a poor recruiting base. They say that PF is a good man and a Tennessean. They strongly suggest that we simply can't do any better than Fulllmer. They fear the unknown big time! I have a relative who has been dumping on Trooper Taylor and just parroting the VC line which I am convinced was put out by Fullmer himself. The fan base has been just a huge collection of wussies who are "sheepish" and defend the indefensable for years. But NOW even the diehards have become to grow some nads and want to "divorce" the guy who has been beating them into submission for years.

I am starting to get my hopes up that we will be FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST!!!!!!! !"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

AtlantaVol's Florida Game FU Instead of Good Bad, and Ugly

FU Instead of GBU!!!

Lets see, where do I start?

1) FU to PF who has sucked the life out of the entire UT Football program. Even getting Al Wilson back on the field to fire up the crowd/team for one game was way too little and way too late. FU to PF for playing a QB as bad as Crompton and still playing him until the bitter end instead of giving your backups some PT. FU Fulmer for starting out your Presser with the obligatory "It is all on us Coaches when we play this bad" and then, in almost the same breath let out the "we told the punter to punt it to the sideline and he punted a low kick to the middle of the field". Just FU Fulmer since I don't really care anymore and most other fans don't either!!!

2) FU Mike Hamilton for the Neyland Renovation and "management". Yea, it "looks" nice in the West Concourse at first glance. But try to get into the Mens Bathroom at halftime or even during the first quarter and the line is 20 yards OUTSIDE the bathrooms!!! Now I know what it has been like to be a female trying to take a leak at Neyland- damn near piss in your pants impossible. But hey, I channeled Jethro Bodine and noodled out that you MUST go in the EXIT door and avoid the monster line! But then you take a leak and go to wash your paws only to find out they are out of Fooking Soap by the end of the FIRST Quarter!!! And not only that but they are out of paper towels at the same time! May not sound like a big deal and it really isn't, but it is a microcosm of the "management" that is the UTAD. All "looks" and no substance!!! So FU Mikey Hamilton for giving that Philapotamous a huge raise and an extension which will just make it harder to can his ass unless he gets charged with Manslaughter after running over three young kids in his mad rush for the Opening Bell at the Shoney's Buffet some Sunday am!

3) Another FU to the UTAD with the frickin scoreboard which is tiny and full of advertisements. But even worse- FAR WORSE- is the loud assed almost Metal Rock music they were playing before the game started- right up until the kickoff!!! Talk about taking away from the college experience and trying to act like the NBA!!! Just FOOK the whole UTAD and whatever Rat they rode in on!

4) FU Shill Overstreet you dumbass!! Your dumb ass about got me killed by running off the Interstate driving home, when I about busted a gut laughing at your ass after you got PUNKED big time!!! Had to be a MonVol or a kindred spirit who called into the postgame show and then said something like this "It was a disappointing day but John Crompton really throws a nice long ball. But I am very concerned that he may have lost the Heisman today. What do you guys think about his chances for the Heisman now? I will hang up and listen to your answer". Well, ole Shill Overstreet bites Hook, Line, and Sinker and says something like "I don't mean to be mean but Crompton just needs to win some games before we can think about individual awards like that". Wilkerson, his sidekick, then chimes in with "Uh, Will, I think it was the caller who was being mean". Good Fooking job whoever that caller was!!!

5) FU Dada Crompton you arrogant Little League parent! How dare you spout off to the KNS back in early August about how you were glad Cut was gone and how Clawson was a "Godsend to Jon". You then went on to say that Jon felt he was one of the very best QB's in the country and you didn't really care if that was arrogant or not! Well Dumbass- you son just get De-cleated by a #175-180 CB from the Gaytors and THEN got up talking smack (when down 27-0 BTW) with the WRONG Gaytor player! And Jonny Boy- what the FOOK do you think you are doing taking off running on 3rd and Fooking 17 to go!!! And the play that beat it all was after he scored the TD on the QB sneak, he jumps up and starts RUNNING OFF THE FIELD. Two UT players coming into the game catch his ass before he gets to the sideline and probably say " Hey Cro Magnum, did you forget that we were lined up for a 2 point conversion down on the other end of the field before the ref ruled that it wasn't a TD yet?"

6) And FU Verizon Wireless! I see our POS Politicain HC was hawking Verizon on the midget Jumbotron we have but I could not even get a Fooking Signal from my Verizon phone out in the concourse at half time. I then walked outside at Gate 21 where all the smokers were and still could not get a signal to make a fooking phone call! Ironically I got a call from VolDave during Cromptons running off thye field after scoring the TD and I could hear him perfectly sitting in my seats. It was nice and silent to chat on the phone sitting in the seats at Neyland! Hey Verizon, if you are going to advertise at Neyland with our POS HC on the jumbotron, then how about slapping a Cell Phone tower on top of said Jumbotron so folks with Verizon phones can actually uhhhhhh USE THE FOOKING PHONES!!!!

Just like everything with the UTAD- all smack talk and no real substance!

I am sure I will think of some more FU's and will edit later!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When 35-3 Isn't What it Appears to Be

I called a friend of mine in Sacramento Saturday afternoon and told him UT beat UAB 35-3. The fact he's a former college player (Colorado State) and a very knowledgable fan, his first question to me was, "was it a legit 35-3, or was it soft?"

That should tell you he's someone who understands what's going on with Tennessee football.

So was it legit or was it soft? Put a pair of 35-3 scores next to each other and draw your own conclusions:

USC 35
Ohio State 3

Tennessee 35

The Trojans-Buckeyes game wasn't that close. The only thing that looks capable of stopping SC is an NFL team. The Vols-Blazers game was a lot closer than the score indicated. At the half, the Vols strolled off the field to a hard-earned chorus of boos with an unimpressive, uninspired 14-0 lead.

I've been following the Vols for more than four decades. I've watched them in good times, bad times and, perhaps worst of all, mediocre times. But no matter the season, I've never worn orange-colored blinders. I call it as I see it. Living in reality is preferable to daydreaming on perception.

For the 10-millionth time, this is a program in desperate need of a new direction.

After the embarrassing loss to UCLA in Pasadena, exacerbated by what BYU did to the Bruins in Provo on Saturday - hold on, the Cougars just scored again - UAB was the perfect opponent for the Vols. With an absolutely awful defense, one that gave up 45 (at home) to Tulsa and 49 to Florida Atlantic in their first two games, Vols fans caught their breath, came in off the ledge and prepared for what surely would be a Vols woodshed beating of UAB.

The moment you think you have the Tennessee football program figured out, think again.

There are those who viewed Saturday's win over UAB as great momentum leading into the Florida game Saturday in Neyland Stadium. Great momentum would have been something on the order of a 70-0 humiliation of UAB. Even 59-0 would have sufficed. Wait - isn't that the same score BYU beat UCLA by? The same UCLA the Vols made look like a Rose Bowl contender? I digress.

New offensive coordinator Dave Clawson is widely considered a solid offensive mind. He may not have been the first choice of many Vols fans, but most agree on one thing he had going for him: He wasn't from the UT "family."

It was thought the new offense he brought with him would give rival defensive coordinators fits. No one knew what he would do with the weapons wearing orange and white he had at his disposal.

Based upon the first two games, UT's offense is the football version of Same Time, Next Year. This program makes getting into the end zone tantamount to scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen.

I'm not technically versed in the intricate X's and O's of football when trying to break down a game. I'm just a sports fan that relies on what my eyes and instincts tell me is working, not working and needs fixing. That said, I am now convinced it makes no difference who's wearing orange and white with helmets, and who's wearing orange and white with headsets. When the game is on, nothing seems to change. Ever.

Year after year, fans are treated to the same mental lapses, the same missed tackles, the same missed assignments, the same dropped balls, the same fumbles and the same patented quotes coming from the coaching staff explaining away what was once a proud program now drifting aimlessly into anonymity.

Of course, the one constant in all of this is Neyland Stadium. Win or lose and no matter the direction of this football program, the fans still flock to Neyland. The tailgating, the parties, the gatherings with friends and family, the . . . oh, the game, too.

In better times - translation being the days and nights when people got excited for UT Saturdays in the fall - you would never see empty seats in Neyland Stadium. It didn't matter if the opponent was UAB or BAU, the place was packed. This past Saturday, the announced crowd was 98,205.

If you were at the game or watched on tv and you've been to Neyland enough times, you knew there couldn't have been more than about 85,000 in that stadium. Seeing roughly half the upper deck empty and doing a little quick math provides a very different number than the announced crowd.

The question now is whether "important" people took notice of the empty seats. And if they did, did they care? The going theory is that as long as donations are flowing into the VASF (Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund), tickets are being purchased and merchandise is flying off the shelves, all is well.

But all is not well.

35-3 over the University of Alabama, Birmingham after struggling for a half is a football program screaming "WE NEED TO BE FIXED!"

The Florida game will be the annual early-season benchmark . . . or will it? If the Vols win, coach Phillip Fulmer will be hailed as a hero with the UCLA debacle and the team's struggles with UAB distant memories. If the Vols lose . . . well, they lose. There doesn't seem to be any consequence for beatdowns against rivals these days.

There wasn't last year. Even after the Vols suffered an almost unfathomable beating in Gainesville, 59-20, most fans had long-since forgotten about the loss when January 1st rolled around because the Vols made it to Florida for a bowl game. Never mind that it was a meaningless game against a middle-of-the-pack Wisconsin Badgers team, as long as the Vols win more than they lose and get to a bowl game, all is well. And, presumably, all will stay the same.

That's not a pleasant picture looking down the road at Tennessee football.

CGabriel is a radio talk show host, freelance writer and voiceover artist. A native of Chicago, he makes his home in Minneapolis with the three loves of his life: His beautiful wife and two daughters.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

AtlantaVol's Good, Bad, and Ugly

It was not an auspicious start for the Vols. A very week UCLA team stole one from under our noses. Its always tough to win when you pick off four passes and still lose. The Vols did little to help themselves last night. The ill-timed fumble by Arian Foster and poor QB play from Jon Crompton really stand out and could haunt this team later in the season.

Read AtlantaVol's Good, Bad, and Ugly.

"The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY


1) Nice night for FB in CA. Didn't look like a scorcher like we have seen with UCLA in the past.

2) Great FB uniforms by UCLA and I actually like the Orange Pants for UT on away games.

3) DL played very solid all night. Did kind of poop out in the 4th quarter and allowed 2 TD's with little pressure on UCLA QB. Chow id improvise and put his bewildered QB in spots where he could succeed and get some confidence though. Now sure the DL could have done much with the rollouts and quick slants except knock some passes down.

4) WR play. While not awesome and another dropped long pass by butterfingers Rodgers, they were "steady" and can't say they were BAD.

5) I am thinking REAL hard on any other "good" for UT and right now I can't come up with any. Challenging part is deciding on what is BAD and what goes all the way to UGLY.


1) OC in Clawson. I will only give him a "Bad" instead of a "UGLY" for a few reasons. First, it was his first game EVER coaching Div 1 players. But mainly because the offense I saw tonight IS the UT offense of Fulmanders! I am not convinced this is the Clawson offense at all.

We saw the long low % Fade Passes. We saw the abandon the running game for the outside passing game. We saw very few quick slants. We saw TONS of screen passes to the point that you expected one every 4-5 plays it seems so no longer a surprise to UCLA. We saw very little over the middle of the field. We saw multiple jumping offsides and getting delay of game penalty's.

The running plays were basic runs up the gut for the most part where it seems the "UT System" still thinks it is mid 1990's and we can actually do this! Talk about beating your head on a brick wall!This is the EXACT offense under Fulmer as OC with

Randyman as "yes man" so I will not bump Clawson to UGLY just yet. I see many more series like the OT series though, and he will get spanked down to

2) You had the game in your hand with a TD but it is almost like they played for a FG and a tie. So is this Clawson or is this Fulmer?

3) RB play. I "might" have put this in the "GOOD" but Fosters fumble pushed it down. Very sad to say about Foster, as he will break the all time UT rushing record which is awesome, but his fumbles deep inside opponents territory has directly contributed to at least 3 big losses. Very rugged and good TB but the fumbles have been killers. I thought Hardesty showed very good quicks and I really liked the play of Cooper at FB which I wasn't expecting since FB was no longer a position under A Cut Below. Cooper blasted a few guys on blocks and caught a pass from the FB spot!

4) TE play. Warren and Stocker were just overmatched in the run game. Warren ran a poor route or two with passes thrown to him. Only had one catch that I can remember and it was in the first half. I have been saying that #220 Warren is a liability as a run blocker and it showed on the plays I watched him.

5) DB play. This is a hard one and many will disagree and say I should put it in the UGLY but with 4 First Half INT's, and INT for a TD, and even some batted down balls throughout the game, I simply could not put them in the UGLY. But lets face it, with the game on the line in the 4th quarter and a QB even worse than The Rooster of FSU NC game fame, they folded like a cheap suit! Now they had no help from the LB's in the passing defense in the 4th quarter with the TE catching passes (2nd string TE at that) and no batted down short slant passes. But a horrid UCLA QB drove down the field for 2 4th quarter TD's on the DB's.

6) LB play. Pretty darn solid in the first half of play but disappeared in the 4th quarter. Only got to the QB on one blitz (Wilson) that I can remember. Might as well not even been on the field with the passing defense in the 4th quarter. Did tackle better than previous years. Didn't hear McCoy's name being mentioned much at all.


1) OL play. This UT OL was AGAIN touted as being an awesome OL with experience at EVERY position and 2-3 backups who were said to be as good as the starters.

Got all kinds of pub about weight room feats. But on the field they stunk it up AS USUAL. Unlike last year they could not pass block and of course they couldn't run block when we needed to wear out the UCLA defense and take advantage of all the UCLA turnovers. As long as Fulmer is there I will go on record as saying UT will NEVER have a good OL. He did something circa 2000 that changed this unit forever. It doesn't matter the size of the UT OL. It doesn't matter the strength. It doesn't matter the agility. It doesn't matter if all have experience. Nope, this will always be a weakness of UT teams under Fulmer.

2) Kicking game. Blocked punt for a TD. Missed badly on long FG's. Missed the easy 34 yarder in OT after the UCLA guy smacks the 47 yarder.

3) QB play by Crompton. This guy has been at UT starting his 4th year now but he looked like a deer in headlights. It was mentioned by BV2 on OM and even on VC that he was forgetting to put his mouthpiece in on multiple plays. How many passes can he throw over a receivers head before they are picked off??? Maybe this is why they stopped passing over the middle?

How many times do you see announcers say point blank that a QB is "making bad throws". Blackledge said this about JC multiple times tonight. UCLA was down to their 3rd string QB and had no choice but to stick with him. What is the excuse for UT??? Virtually ANY college QB can make throws when given time to throw. But only the good ones can make throws under pressure, get away from pressure and make plays, and not make silly mistakes that kill your team. And make no mistake- Crompton is NOT a "good" SEC QB. There is a reason that he rarely saw the field under Cutcliff. Without a stupid face mask penalty on 3rd and 11 with 5 minutes to go then this might have gone down as one of the absolute worst opening games for a
UT QB EVER! As it is he was bailed out and UT drove down for the winning TD except.........

4) Chavis was there to snatch defeat out of a sigh of relief victory! I think it was 1.24 or so to play and UCLA marches down the field with Chow matching wits with Chavis in THE mismatch of the ages. The actual TD play was a master coach toying with a Pop Warner assistant coach! I am simply too tired and worn out on UT FB to rail any more on Chavis and Fulmer. Been there and done that with these same Groundhog Day moments with these two and they have beaten AV into submission. Blah Blah Blah!

5) Have to give Little Ricky at least a BAD or an UGLY for kicking off to UT with under 30 seconds and kicking it short which allowed an up back to return it out past the 40 and put UT within a few completed passes of getting into tying FG range, which they did to force OT. The UCLA defense also played passive on that last series and didn't bring the house at Crompton. It was like we threw Chavis at them for 25 or so seconds! There really is no excuse for letting a team have a chance at a win in OT when you are kicking off to them with under 30 seconds in the game.

6) At MbVols rec I will mention the Keystone Kop's Offense and DiscomBOBulation rearing its UGLY head once again. The sack on Crompton by Foster was a classic also. Got to get a new assistant coach in charge of sweat bands so we can dem der plays straight for the UAB game!

Not sure I have it in me to do this much this year. I won't even see the UAB game as no way in hell I am wasting money on PPV and no way in hell I would attend this game and waste my weekend.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Making Average Look Easy

In mid-March just east of Dana Point in Southern California, the swallows of San Juan Capistrano return home. As every Autumn approaches, the green leaves of summer begin their journey to magnificent shades of purple, red and orange. And with the end of summer, we also welcome the arrival of a new college football season.

For fans of the Tennessee Volunteers over the past few seasons, that arrival has generally meant suffering through too many games like the one against UCLA in the Rose Bowl Monday evening. The only difference with this one was the Vols didn't follow their usual script. They didn't play down to an overmatched team only to pull out an unimpressive victory in the 4th quarter. No, they managed to extend the game into overtime before finally securing their 27-24 loss.

I've never been a football player or a coach. But no different than going to movies, you don't need to be a critic to have an opinion. All you need is a set of eyes and a reasonable amount of objectivity to go along with the passion you have for your favorite team. That said . . .

Why does the Tennessee football program, no matter who's playing or coaching, make a habit of turning games against overmatched opponents adventures into absurdity?

UCLA entered the game starting their third-string quarterback against the Vols. Throw in injuries to other key personnel and it's amazing former Bruins quarterback and new head coach Rick Neuheisel didn't suit up. This was a game that shaped up to be a Tennessee rout. Even ESPN, The Great Satan in the view of many Vols fans, called for the Vols to make a major statement; a beat-down on a team that looked to stand virtually no chance against a bigger, faster and much more talented Vols team.

Think again. This is Tennessee, not USC.

As so often happens, the Vols played the part of perfect opponent. If this program has been consistent in their inability to keep up with other SEC programs that have long-since passed them, LSU and Florida come to mind, it also remains one of the most frustrating examples of making an inferior team feel darn good about themselves. And make no mistake, UCLA is a decent team but they're not Georgia. Or Florida. It's doubtful they're even South Carolina.

But on Monday night in the Rose Bowl, they were a team that played with purpose, fire, focus and a will to win that broke the Vols far earlier than overtime, or even the 4th quarter.

Logic suggests this UCLA team should have been put away by halftime had the Vols simply played to the level of their talent. But if you follow the Vols, you know logic often needs to be thrown out of the equation faster than their offensive line picks up a procedure penalty.

Fans refusing to take off the blinders will insist this was a tough, hard-fought game; that it was unfortunate the Vols just couldn't pull it out in overtime. And that's tantamount to saying the 59-20 loss to Florida really wasn't all that bad when you look at the film.

Certainly, coach Phillip Fulmer will be looking at the UCLA film. What he'll see will be the same Vols mess the rest of America saw.

For far too many years, this is a football team - a football program - that makes too many dumb plays, too many mistakes and squanders too many opportunities. The list of games where UT was flat-out fortunate to win, even though they should have buried their opponent, include Vanderbilt ('07), Kentucky ('06), Air Force ('06), UAB ('05), Memphis ('05), Vanderbilt ('04'), Kentucky ('04), Vanderbilt ('00) and Memphis ('99) to name just a few.

The UCLA game now stands on its own list. This wasn't one that got away from the Vols. This one ran away from them, laughing all the way back to Westwood.

UCLA deserves every accolade thrown their way after this victory. During the second half, it was the Bruins that looked like a team ready to compete for the SEC East championship. The Vols? Except for the occasional flash of brilliance - and I'm using that word loosely - they seemed more in line with a middle-of-the-pack team from the Mountain West Conference.

Prior to Monday night, there were fans and writers suggesting a 10-win season was easily within reach. Anything's possible, but based solely on what transpired in Pasadena how realistic do wins against Florida, Auburn, Georgia and Alabama really seem? How about South Carolina? Kentucky?

When future schedules are put together, and keeping in mind the last two west coast vacations to Cal and UCLA, perhaps the Vols should look for opponents a little east of the California border. Maybe hook up with Utah State or New Mexico. Logan and Albuquerque are really quite nice. There are plenty of good restaurants, beautiful scenery and some good tourist destinations for Vols fans making the trip . . .

And playing the Aggies and Lobos should prove to be very competitive games.

CGabriel is a radio talk show host, freelance writer and voiceover artist. A native of Chicago, he makes his home in Minneapolis with the three loves of his life: His beautiful wife and two daughters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bouncing Balls with Magic Dust On Top

Football is a funny game. During the course of a game, the drama unfolds as it does in no other sport. The momentum of the oblong-shaped ball creates unpredictable bounces that change entire games. Sometimes it changes the direction and futures of an entire football program.

One such game, was the 2007 Tennessee-South Carolina game. Tennessee fan, AtlantaVol, reports that the University of Tennessee was on the verge of firing head coach Phil Fulmer and negotiating a deal with Wake Forest and their coach, Jim Grobe.

"Heard from a friend of mine and yours just yesterday, that the firing of PF was VERY imminent last fall and would have probably been done if we hadn't lucked out the USC game against Spurrier. Apparently the staff at Wake Forest was in pretty involved talks with the UTAD and they were under the impression the UTAD was about to pull the trigger on PF. So we went from there to winning the USC, Vandy, and KY games on almost pure luck and this translated to Fulmer and his Agent virtually getting to write their own contract on Fulmer's kitchen table! Fulmer literally went from a missed FG against USC (or the fumble recovery by McClendon) in being fired to being able to write his own contract with THE most favorable terms a HC could EVER get! Amazing thing for true UT fans!"

Fellow UT fan and avid follower of the UT program, LWSVOL, confirmed the information.

Fate is just like a football. You never know which way it is going to bounce. In this case, "fate's football" took a strange bounce that rewarded its beleaguered coach, Phil Fulmer, with a fill in the details contract that many believe will set the program back further than it has already fallen over the past nine seasons.

Someone send a memo to the front office to restrict Tinkerbell's ration of magic dust.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You're The Boss Man Warden Bowden

College is supposed to be about learning life's lessons, education, learning to work with others towards goals, and enjoying college life.

Somebody needs to pass that bit of information onto Florida State football coach prison warden, Bobby Bowden. Bobby Bowden is purported by the media to be a grandfather-like gentleman man, who is a gosh-durn nice coach. Tell that to Brandon Warren. Bowden holds Warren's fate, like a condemned prisoner, in the palm of his hand.

Former UT assistant football coach, Doug Matthews discussed the situation on a Nashville television weekend sports show. Matthews said that this entire situation boils down to Bowden giving Warren's life back to him by granting his release. Its as simple as that. Matthews said that an announcement should be made by Tuesday and probably no later than Wednesday.

When asked by show host, Willie Daunic, what he thought would happen, Matthews said that he expected calmer heads to prevail and that Warren would be granted his release by Bowden and that Warren would be free to play this season. We are seeing what kind of person that Bobby Bowden really is in his handling of this matter. He still has some time to stop acting as a prison warden and give this young man his life back.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fear Of Words

Why is it that when a sports writer tells the truth that some fans are so fearful of the truth that they go to any extreme to discredit the writer? Not once do they make an effort to discuss and debate the specifics of what he wrote. They dread and fear every word he writes because he challenges their delusions.

Looking back at the July 29th entry on the Vol Blog, Paranoia Strikes Deep, we discussed the paranoia displayed by fans towards ESPN. Why is it that when the media is not a blatant "homer", they are out to get your team? For once, it would be nice to see fans discuss and debate the message instead of shooting the messenger. Fear is an emotion experienced by those who are ignorant to the truth and reality

From Buffalo Springfield's, For What Its Worth, "Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid."

Heed the words. They offer some great advice.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mountain Values

Tennessee fans have adopted and grown fond of virtually every quarterback that the Vols have paraded out onto the surface of Shields-Watkin's Field. As long as he is wearing orange, Vols fans will overlook virtually any past transgression on the part of a Vols player.

This year, the Vols quarterback's family has done something that no other player's parent has ever done....Not even Reg Stweart. David and Janet Crompton, the parents of Jonathan Crompton have begun criticizing Phil Fulmer's and former UT offensive Coordinator, David Cutliffe's decisions to start Erik Ainge over their son the past two years. A soap opera writer could not write something this good or as whacky as what these people are saying.

AmbroseBierce, posted his latest fark dealing with this surreal situation. If these are mountain values, then the Clampetts nor Hatfields and McCoy's have anything on these people.

Crompton and DeMama

It will be interesting to see how the fans and coaches react when Crompton has a poor game. The problem has nothing to do with the Jonathan Crompton. The kid has good tools. He is just unfortunate to have parents who don't know how to keep their mouth's shut and their noses in their own business.