Randy Smith: The State Of Vols' Football

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
When you consider how far the Tennessee football program has sunk in the last decade it appears that any good news out of Knoxville is greeted by skepticism. For example, when linebacker Darren Kirkland announced he was leaving, fans reacted with an "Oh well" type attitude. In other words, it couldn't get any worse. A few weeks later when Kirkland changed his mind and decided to return to the Vols for 2018, fans reacted with another "Oh well" attitude because Kirkland has been hampered by injuries since he first came to Tennessee. Though most of those same Big Orange fans seem to be sold on new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, there is little to indicate things will get better anytime soon.

There are a few fans who expect Tennessee to compete for an SEC Championship right away.
That's not going to happen. The Vols will be very lucky to finish 6-6 and go to a bowl game which would be definite progress. In terms of actually competing for an SEC title, the Volunteers are at least 3-4 years away. 

How has it gotten this bad? When Phillip Fulmer was fired in 2008 the program had definitely declined but was only one or two recruiting classes away from being able to return to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game-the same one they played in in 2007. The Vols were still respected on a national level but when Lane Kiffin was hired to replace Fulmer, things just didn't feel right.  That was proven when Kiffin bolted for Southern Cal after just one season. Then came Derek Dooley who brought the Vols down to an entirely different level in terms of talent and national respect. Instead of signing four and five star recruiits  Dooley signed much less talented players and that led to the Vols three straight 5-7 seasons. The first two under Dooley and the  last one under Butch Jones. Jones brought the Vols fan base together with good recruiting classes and perhaps smoke and mirrors. While Jones seemed to recruit well, he and his staff were not able to develop talent at all. Plus, that "Champions of Life" slogan went over like a lead balloon. 

To show you how far the Vols' program has gone down, when Jones was fired, the search for a new coach made Tennessee the laughing stock of college sports. It led to the ouster of Athletic Director John Currie after only eight months and eventually led to the firing of U.T. Chancellor Dr. Beverly Davenport a few months later. Now, as we approach the start of the 2018 college football season, the Vols are coming off their only winless SEC season in school history and the school's worst record ever; a 4-8 debacle a year ago. 

That's where Tennessee is as a program, trying to bounce back from the bottom of the SEC pile. That's a place Tennessee has never been as a football program but it's the place where Jeremy Pruitt begins his tenure as the Vols' head coach. So, you see how unrealistic it is to think Tennessee will be relevant in the SEC right away. This may seem to be a pessimistic view of things but I prefer to think of it as a real assessment. 

Had the Volunteers not fired Coach Fulmer, I firmly believe Tennessee would not be in this shape today. But they did and as we get close to beginning the 2018 season the fact that Fulmer is now in charge of things  as Athletic Director can only be a positive thing. Tennessee has a long way to go because the Volunteers have never been in this position before. They honestly can't go any lower, so the only way to go is up. And that's not going to happen overnight. 


Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


FOOTBALL   FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 Baylor at MBA CAK at Boyd-Buchanan Maryville at Bradley McMinn Central at Brainerd Tyner at Central Chattanooga Christian at Grace Christian McMinn Co. at Cleveland Cloudland at Copper Basin Howard at East Hamilton Hixson at East Ridge Middle Tennessee Christian at Grace ... (click for more)

Complete 2018 Signal Mountain Pie Run 10K Results

**** OVERALL FEMALE **** Place O'All Name                     Ag Div Hometown Guntime Pace      ===== ===== ======================== == ===== ==================== ======= =====    1  5 Jennifer Huwe ... (click for more)

Charles Pipkens, Lajeromeney Brown Arrested In Series Of Violent Home Invasions In Which Robbers Posed As Police

Chattanooga Police have arrested Charles Dijon Pipkens and Lajeromeney Brown in connection with a series of violent home invasions in which the suspects told their victims they were Chattanooga Police officers.. Pipkens, 27, was charged in an Aug. 11 case and Brown, 40, in an incident on Sept. 19. Pipkens, of 434 N. Hickory St., is charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping, ... (click for more)

Fairyland PTO Says It Can't Get Help From Walker County Schools And Board For Cafeteria Woes

Officials of the Fairyland Elementary School PTO said in recent months, the Fairyland Elementary School cafeteria "has effectively been shut down due to equipment (which broke in June) and consequent staffing issues." The group said, "As it stands now, all food is 'satellited' in from Ridgeland High School to Fairyland Elementary School for all meals including breakfast, lunch ... (click for more)

Drink Up, Chattanooga

I attended the meeting to discuss the placement of the sewage treatment plant at the Cambridge Center in Ooltewah today. My problem with the meeting (aka) dog and pony show, is that the meeting started out with the agenda of the Ooltewah Community Council.  After living in this area for 45+ years I have never heard of this group.  I would like for someone to answer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

The reviews are good after we initiated “The Funny Video of the Week” but today let me take the liberty of sharing an oldie that I consider the funniest of all time. Please be aware the principals are speaking Polish, which you also need to know makes not a bit of difference. I have watched “The Polish Spoon Trick” at least 50 times because every time I watch the video it makes ... (click for more)