Randy Smith: Troubling Times In Big Orange Country

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
The past 72 hours has been like a nightmare for Tennessee fans. There is criticism of Big Orange Nation coming from all sides after the social media outcry led to Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano pulling out of John Curries' job offer on Sunday. That big mess was preceded by the Vols fourth loss to Vanderbilt in the last six years on Saturday.
Four losses to Vandy in six seasons; George "Bad News" Cafego who hated the Commodores with a real passion, is spinning in his grave. So is General R.R. Neyland who was hired at Tennessee with only one charge...."Beat Vanderbilt."

Bad hires have become the norm at Tennessee. Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, Donnie Tyndale, Dave Serrano,  has resulted in the Tennessee men's sports programs finishing 13th out of fourteen SEC schools for the 2016-17 year. Folks our football program is dead last in the SEC, league bottom feeders after a winless 0-8 season. It was the first winless conference season since Tennessee joined the SEC. 

Even though the public outcry over Curries' job offer to Schiano defeated the deal, and led to other college football fans laughing and pointing fingers at Tennessee's fan base, I'm glad it happened. The Volunteers did not need Greg Schiano as their head football coach and it has nothing to do with what he knew or didn't know about what went on at Penn State. It's like John Currie started at the bottom of his list and offered the job to the guy at the end. That move alone started the jokes about Tennessee and when the fan base rose up and said, "NO" to Schiano, it started an avalanche. By the way, Alabama fans need to remember the Mike Price debacle before they start chirping.

Former Tennessee assistant coach Doug Mathews said it starts with hiring Tennessee people and he's right. There are no Tennessee people on the coaching staff nor in administration. It's not the same place it was ten years ago or even five years ago and that can at least partially be attributed to Dave Hart's regime as Athletic Director. One of the first things Hart did when he became AD was to fire Bud Ford, the long-time Tennessee Sports Information Director and replace him with an outsider. There would be no one who understood the storied Tennessee history and it remains that way today.

Now it appears that even John Currie's job is in jeopardy as he continues to look for a new football coach. It's really hard to fathom but  Tennessee may not be able to hire a big-time college coach, due to the ineptness of the people in charge in Knoxville. Maybe we should hire Tee Martin. He played at Tennessee, graduated from there and has been a great offensive coordinator at Southern Cal for several years now. He may be the one to take Tennessee back to the Promised Land and restore the glory. After all, the Vols are the ninth winningest program in college football history. Even though things look very bleak right now, just remember this quote from the great Johnny Majors. "You're never as good as your best day or as bad as your worst."  

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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.  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 30 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 five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.


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