| FTBL Editorial: The State of the Tennessee program.


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Editorial: The State of the Tennessee Program

by TerryP

The Tennessee Volunteers enter an idle week in their schedule this weekend after starting this season 2-2 with losses to California and a dismantling at the hands of division rival Florida. Even with the return of David Cutcliffe to the sidelines there are stronger and stronger implications of unrest on the coaching staff as well as the donors and season ticket holders from the UT fan base: deservedly so.

Since the involvement of Fulmer in sanctions that held Alabama under in the last few years there have been signs that the “big-money decision makers” in Knoxville were getting restless under his regime. While speaking to a group of them a few years ago they were insinuating back then they wanted a change in leadership. The idea of bring Cutcliffe back into the fold was looked at as a major turning point for the UT program in general. Even with his return the Vols are still struggling on the field but not as much as they were with the off the field episodes. Looking at the 2007 season it appears this may be a make or break year for the current coaching staff. This unrest of the “powers that be” is only compounded with reports coming out of Knoxville about tensions on the coaching staff. I’ve been told there was an altercation at practice within the last week but the details are still not clear; may never be. The only details that have been revealed were centered around conflicts between Trooper Taylor and John Chavis.

John Chavis, a long time member of the staff under Fulmer, deserves to be feeling some heat right now. He’s been known for his ability to field a strong defense for the Vol program. This year is a different story. His defense ranks at the bottom, or near the bottom, in every defensive category Perhaps worst of all is where they are ranked in defensive scoring, dead last in the conference.

The blame shouldn’t all be centered on Chavis and his defense. It should be equally spread around. We don’t have to look any further than the bowl appearances in the last few years with losses to Clemson, Maryland and what happened to them last year against Penn State.

People like to point to the 1998 National Championship as a reason to give Fulmer and company more time. But, that must be weighed against how the team has looked over the last 6 years.

They aren’t ranked in the top 25 right now, and depending on how they play the remainder of the season may not make it back into the top 25. Think about this. 50% of those 6 years they didn’t finish the season in the top 25.

Let’s look at their over all record. People continue to point to his overall winning percentage as proof of his coaching ability, but like the last 6 years that needs to be weighed against the fact over the last 28 games he’s only won 15 of them. (Shula had a better record, if only by one win. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?) Add to that in the last 19 games against ranked SEC teams his team has lost 15 of those games. 15 losses!

I’d imagine there are fans that have as much respect for the tradition of Tennessee as I do. General Neyland, Johnny Majors. There are two coaching legacies. I look back over the last half of the last century and see a team that was competing for, and winning, conference championships. That respect was been dampened the last decade because of who was the patriarch of the UT program. With the program on this steady decline that feeling is spreading quickly around the Vol nation as well.
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