As much as we all may bitch and moan about things these days, it’s reassuring to see that places like Scott’s Variety Store and Bar-B-Q are still alive and well.
I mean, how bad can life be when there’s serious barbeque to be had?
Man, Kyle King certainly stuck a stick in the hornets’ nest with this post, didn’t he? In addition to the fast and fierce response he got from Urnge Nation in the comments to it, he also inspired this shot in return at Rocky Top Talk.
With regard to the latter, I’m not really interested in getting into a point-by-point critique (besides, cocknfire’s already done a good job with that at Team Speed Kills), although I am highly amused by this defense of Junior’s record in Oakland:
… Sure, he didn’t have great success in the NFL. But he was not exactly dealt pocket aces either. The Raiders were 2-14 in 2006. In 2007, with Kiffin, they were 4-12. They were 1-4 when he got fired the next year. They ended up at 5-11….winning at roughly the same clip with Kiffin as without him. Did he turn the franchise around? No, he did not. But he did get two more wins in his first year than they got the previous year….the team did improve.
If that’s the performance level they’re looking for in Knoxville these days, I’m down with that.
But I digress. What’s become more and more striking to me as we watch things unfold is that Junior has been quite successful at one thing so far as the head coach of the Tennessee football program. He’s a relentless self-promoter who’s managed to make the Tennessee story all about himself.
Don’t believe me? Look at what Kiffin sells to recruits – he and his coaching staff as a pipeline to the pros. Look at how he turned the emphasis in the athletic facilities from Vol history to players now in the NFL that he and his staff coached at their prior stops. Even the now notorious secondary recruiting snafus are all painted as part and parcel of the Laner’s persona, rather than a reflection of the program as a whole (if you think I’m wrong about that, compare the reaction to UT’s recent violations with that to Auburn’s “Big Cat” whoop-de-do).
As I said, it’s all about Lane Kiffin.
And we’ve all – defenders, mockers, media alike – bought into it. It’s rather stunning when you think about it. It’s not like UT is some fly-by-night directional school now trying to make a name for itself. Quite the opposite, in fact. Historically speaking, it’s arguably the second most-storied program in the conference. Yet the Vol faithful have been quick to embrace the new narrative, even if, as Holly pointed out over and over in the comments to Kyle’s post, nobody has the first clue where things are headed.
And let’s not forget that all this attention is being garnered by a guy whose resume is, to be charitable about it, kind of thin at this point in time. A guy whose notoriety is as much about whom he’s related to and whom he’s married to as what he’s accomplished with a head set on. That’s good marketing in my book. At least it is for the Laner, anyway.
The catch to elevating the personality above the program is that the normal bonds of loyalty between coach and program that we fans take for granted really don’t exist.
Vince Dooley had a famous explanation for his reluctance to throw the football. “Three things can happen when you pass,” he’d say, “and two of ‘em are bad.” That’s the way I see the future for Junior and Tennessee – either he flops and gets canned, he succeeds and leaves for greener pastures or he succeeds and stays for the long haul. Knowing what you do about him right now, how would you rank the probabilities?
UPDATE: You really ought to read this David Hale post, if for no other reason than that he manages to tie Cheers to Junior’s recruiting.
Now it’s Mark Schlabach’s turn to weigh in on non-conference scheduling. He’s posted his lists of toughest and easiest OOC schedules this year.
Georgia checks in at #2 on the “most difficult” list.
The Bulldogs played arguably the country’s toughest schedule last season and their 12-game slate isn’t much easier this year. Georgia is one of only three teams from BCS leagues (Georgia Tech and Syracuse are the others) to play three nonconference games against fellow BCS foes. The Bulldogs’ Sept. 5 opener at Oklahoma State seems especially treacherous, as they’ll face one of the country’s most prolific offenses with a pretty young Georgia defense. The Sept. 26 home game against Arizona State at Sanford Stadium is a potential trap; it comes only a week after a road trip to Arkansas and a week before the Bulldogs play LSU. Georgia also hosts FCS opponent Tennessee Tech on Nov. 7. The Nov. 28 game at rival Georgia Tech, which defeated the Bulldogs 45-42 last season, comes at the end of a five-game stretch with no bye.
For yuks, compare that with the number two entry on his “easiest” list.
2. SEC contenders
Florida will be gunning for its third BCS national championship in four seasons. LSU might be a dark-horse candidate after winning a national title in 2007. Alabama and Ole Miss might both be in the BCS hunt, too. But none of those SEC teams’ nonconference schedules looks like championship material. Give Alabama credit for opening the season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. Don’t give the Crimson Tide credit for playing Florida International, North Texas and FCS opponent Chattanooga at home. LSU opens the season at Washington, which didn’t win a single game last season and probably couldn’t beat Appalachian State, which opened the 2008 season in Baton Rouge, La. The rest of the Tigers’ non-SEC slate has a distinct Cajun flavor: Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane and Louisiana Tech (all at home). The Gators open the season against FCS foe Charleston Southern and probably won’t have to play much better to beat Troy or Florida International. At least Florida closes the regular season Nov. 28 against rival FSU. Ole Miss opens the season with an 85-mile road trip to Memphis, and plays UAB and two FCS opponents — Southeastern Louisiana and Northern Arizona — at home.
Mike Slive’s relief and back patting over getting every conference member off of NCAA probation? Ovah Postponed.
… The ruling, which will be announced to the public Thursday, also includes the NCAA placing Alabama on three more years of probation, and Alabama will pay a fine.
As a Dawg fan, I will say it’s a shame that a certain ‘Bama victory in 2008 isn’t one of those subject to being vacated.