My post on why I don’t understand Junior’s strategy in rebuilding the Tennessee brand has prompted a couple of responses on the ‘Net – one from Brian Cook, who shares my puzzlement, and one from Rocky Top Talk’s CornFromAJar, who responds to Brian and me.
Corn’s response was thoughtful and honest – he’s got no idea where the ride is going to take him, but at least he’s enjoying the journey so far – and so deserves a brief response in return. What I’m struck by with his post (and some of the comments to it) is how tired the UT fan base had grown of Fulmer. Now, being a Georgia fan, I can certainly understand how a coach’s appeal can wear thin, but it’s not like Fulmer’s resume was exactly threadbare, even of late (there was a SECCG appearance in ’07 that was extremely painful for me, anyway).
But here’s the thing: like him or not (and I’m certainly in the latter category), you never questioned the fact that Fulmer bled orange. So far, there’s nothing in Junior’s actions that indicates the same dedication to UT – if anything, some of what he’s done is quite contrary to that. And again, I realize that winning will override much of that for the typical Vol fan. But I’m still a wee bit surprised by it – especially if it’s an attitude shared by Hamilton, which Corn assures me it is.
But if going in a radically different direction, and by that I mean ignoring convention and tradition to a significant extent, was the approach embraced by Hamilton from the start, why didn’t he talk seriously to somebody like Mike Leach who’s been very successful on the college level? Leach (who has an SEC coaching background, unlike Junior) with some stellar recruiters could have been a force in the conference, could he not?
Further, I think Corn has badly missed on Brian’s comparison of Junior and Spurrier. The point isn’t that both men run their mouths, only Spurrier waited until he accomplished something. It’s that Spurrier went into Gainesville armed with an offensive strategy he knew would work and a realization that the key to success was changing the program’s attitude about the Georgia game, while the Laner’s method to date can only be characterized as an ad hoc approach to doing whatever it takes to win recruits. And if that’s all it takes to win big in the SEC, the Zooker would still be a Gator.
I guess I’m just finding a lot of the “it’s all part of a plan” talk a lot of after the fact justification, particularly in light of the last contract Hamilton handed out to Fulmer.
On the other hand, if you want to find something that should legitimately excite the UT faithful, check out this lengthy, detailed post on NFL defenses. There may be more there than you ever wanted to know, but interspersed throughout is a lot about Monte Kiffin’s strategy. And if you look at Warren Sapp’s career as sort of a collaborative effort between Orgeron and MK, it’s hard not to be impressed about what they might be able to accomplish together – while it lasts, anyway.
UPDATE: Without context, I can’t say for certain, but, Jeezus, this seems excessive:
Under Kiffin’s direction, UT spent $835,908.47 from Dec. 1 to National Signing Day on Feb. 4.