Randy Smith: Big Orange Fans Must Be Patient

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

As we get closer to the start of the college football season, Tennessee football fans are on a feeding frenzy. They eat up every bit of information available on their beloved Volunteers, but as exciting as second year head coach Butch Jones has made it around the state, the Big Orange faithful simply must be patient.

The 2014 Volunteers will be a much better football team than the 2013 version was. An extremely tough schedule however, will make it very difficult to better last year’s 5-7 record. The talent level in Knoxville is better, but still nothing to equal what it was 12-15 years ago. Tennessee is still a year, maybe two years away from being back to that level. The good news is…..Coach Jones is making a lot of progress in a little amount of time.

While this year’s recruiting class was rated a solid top ten in every publication, the one that looms ahead for 2015 could be even better. As of today, (July 8, 2014) the Vols are currently ranked 8th in the country and fifth in the SEC. Tennessee has a grand total of nineteen commitments, with seven of those being four star prospects. (According to rivals.com) Another banner class coming into Knoxville will return the Vols to SEC relevance.

I have written columns before begging the Volunteer faithful to be patient, which most of them weren’t. I wrote a similar story following Derek Dooley’s initial season as head coach saying to give Coach Dooley at least three more years and he will get the job done.  Needless to say, I was wrong; though after his third season, hardly anyone thought he deserved four years.

This time I think I’m right. Butch Jones has excited the fan base as none of Tennessee’s last three head coaches has done. His recruiting is much better, and while the jury may still be out on his staff’s on the field coaching, I think that’s better too.

Some of the most optimistic Vol fans look to last year’s resurgence by Auburn and Missouri as examples for Tennessee to follow. The big difference is the schedule for Tennessee will be much tougher than either of those two teams’ 2013 schedules were.  Even I can’t find a sure six wins on U.T.’s 2014 schedule; six wins that would send the Vols to a bowl game for the first time since Dooley’s first year.

Tennessee opens up at home with Utah State, and while a lot of people are counting the opener as a sure win, the Aggies will likely be a slight favorite on Aug. 31. Utah State was 9-5 a year ago and will be picked to win the Mountain West Conference in 2014. That one is a toss-up. The Vols then host Arkansas State the following week with a win almost being a lock. Playing devil’s advocate, let’s say Tennessee is 2-0 as they face a brutal three game stretch….at Oklahoma, at Georgia and at home against Florida. The Gators are the only one of those three I feel Tennessee will have a good chance to beat.

At 2-3, the Vols will likely beat Chattanooga, before facing Ole Miss, Alabama and South Carolina. After that tough stretch, they could be 3-5, before closing out the season against Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt. I’m picking them to win all three and finish 6-6 on the year. With that record, they could be headed to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

They could be better than 6-6, or maybe 5-7 or worse, but again, the only thing I can ask is be patient. Better seasons are ahead….just maybe not this season.

 -----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com


Lookouts Rally Falls Short In Thursday's 7-6 Loss To Smokies

The Chattanooga Lookouts battled back with two runs in the ninth inning, but could not complete the comeback against the Tennessee Smokies Thursday night at AT&T Field. The 7-6 loss evens the series at one game a piece. The loss drops the Lookouts'record to 20-27.    David Freitas   was the catalyst for the Smokies' offense on Thursday night. The 27-year ... (click for more)

Dalton State Golf Report

Silvis, Il. – Dalton State (299-313-295 = 907) is tied with South Carolina Beaufort (301-308-298 = 907) for 13th after completion of the third round of the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship tournament at the 7,066 yards, Par-71 TPC at Deere Run course. The Roadrunners’ 18-hole Thursday round of 295 was the team’s best play of the 72-hole tournament and it was needed ... (click for more)

Attorney Says Lacie Stone, Advisor To Mayor Berke, Is Victim, Not Instigator

The attorney for advisor to Mayor Andy Berke Lacie Stone said she has been thrust into the spotlight, but said she is "the victim of an unprovoked attack" by her husband, Bobby Stone. Attorney John Cavett said it is ridiculous "to suggest that she was the perpetrator." Mr. Stone is facing charges of domestic assault and vandalism. Attorney Cavett said, "It is unfortunate ... (click for more)

Dr. Russell Dyer Chosen As Director Of Schools By Cleveland City School Board

The Cleveland City School board unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to offer the job of director of Schools to Dr. Russell Dyer. Dr. Dyer serves as the chief of staff of schools in Collierville, Tn.  If Dr. Dyer accepts the school board's contract, he will be paid $132,500 a year.  After contract negotiations, the board plans for Dr. Dyer to start at Cleveland City ... (click for more)

Case Handled Like Any Other? - And Response

It is interesting that Chief Fletcher would deem the handling of the Mayor's encounter as typical or normal. Is the Chief asking the public to believe that all misdemeanor domestic violence arrests include a 4-hour taped interrogation, and delayed reporting after a visit to the Chief’s house. Of course, we believe that Chief Fletcher. April Eidson * * *  I ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Judge's Night Behind Bars

There is very little doubt that retired Army Sergeant Joe Serna has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving three tours as a Green Beret in Afghanistan. Once he barely avoided being blown up by a hidden IED and then there was another terrifying brush with a suicide bomber. But the worst was when a truck he was in slid off the roadway into a canal. “It was like ... (click for more)