Tennessee football: we’re back, baby!

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t comment on observations like this one

It’ll be a couple of years yet before we know if the Lane Kiffin experiment at Tennessee is a success or a failure. I’d caution against reading much from the game against Florida, or out of this season in general. But I am more optimistic about the future now than I was when he was hired. And I’m hoping it works out, because if Georgia football bloggers’ foreheads burst like they have been while the guy is losing, they’ll be beyond apoplectic when he’s winning. That will be fun to watch.

for all the usual reasons: to each his own, eye of the beholder, yada, yada, yada.  Except in this case it’s such a lovely distillation of the mindset of the Vol Nation I can’t resist.

I mean, this is what it boils down to now for them.  The team sports a losing record, like last year.  It’s lost to UCLA and Florida, like last year.  It’s defense is good, like last year.  Jonathan Crompton is the quarterback, like last year.  The offense is feeble at best, like last year.  And yet, Tennessee football is back for these folks, simply because its coach is very capable at drawing attention to himself.  (And he’s actually expressed it in more skeptical terms than most of his fellow travelers in orange.)

Really, what else is there?  As David Hale noted,

But think about this for a second: A two-score loss to a top-10 team in which your offense struggles to fewer than 250 yards total, the QB looks bad, but the defense is surprisingly effective.

When Tennessee does it, it means every pundit in the country loves them and Lane Kiffin is the next big thing.

When Georgia did it three weeks ago, it was the death knell of the Mark Richt era in Athens and perhaps the end of the world as we know it.

Amazing. And the Vols fans can only wish Crompton was suffering from the flu.

Look, I expect UT to get better, although given the quarterback situation and the likelihood that Eric Berry will turn pro after this season, it probably won’t happen as quickly as Vol fans might hope.  But all the chest beating over the attention paid to Junior’s antics as a sign the program is already relevant again is, well, unconvincing.  Especially when you contrast Tennessee’s 2009 record with that of Auburn’s, a school that essentially followed the same off season path, albeit with much less bombast.

Those two schools meet October 3rd.  It’ll be interesting to take stock of everyone’s position about the Tennessee program after that game.


UPDATE: Brian Cook elaborates further.


UPDATE #2: A little mockery at Capstone Report.



Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

21 responses to “Tennessee football: we’re back, baby!

  1. Thanks for the traffic and all, but I’m curious how you take “And yet, Tennessee football is back for these folks” from “It’ll be a couple of years yet before we know if the Lane Kiffin experiment at Tennessee is a success or a failure.”

    That’s saying “we hope it’s on its way back, but we don’t really know yet.”


    • Rusty, from a wins and losses standpoint, that’s true.

      But the sense I get from the vast majority of you guys – and it’s certainly been something encouraged by Kiffin – is that Tennessee football, the program, matters again right now, because of his behavior since he became the head coach.


      • Kiffin has proven himself adept at PR in the “any PR is good PR” mode. What other team that went 5-7 last year and has a tackling dummy for a QB is in the news this much?

        The plan is for that PR to translate into getting recruits excited about UT football again when they weren’t before. So far that’s working out with an immediate boost to the 2009 class and the #3-ranked class for 2010.

        So from the standpoint that UT football appears to be on an upward trajectory when it wasn’t before, it’s arguable it is on the path back to relevance. There is reason to be optimistic the Lane Kiffin experiment will work out.

        But I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that a 1-2 team playing in its first year under a new coach without a competent QB or any depth on the O-line is relevant in the sense of results on the field. That has yet to be determined.


  2. kckd

    The thing I don’t get is how they aren’t more upset about that UCLA loss. I mean UT has more talent than UCLA, they played them at Neyland and still lost.

    And it’s not like Crompton played much worse statistically against UCLA than the he did against UF.


    • HamDawg11

      “And it’s not like Crompton played much worse statistically against UCLA than the he did against UF.”

      Umm, 4 turnovers in 4 consecutive possessions…I would say that’s a little worse than his performance in the swamp. If UT had just stuck to running the ball and their OL woulda grown a pair, then they’d most likely be sittin’ at 2-1 right now.


  3. UFTimmy

    As you said, UT stands pretty much in the same place it did last year. And it actually did worse against UF by all measures (except the score) than it did last year. Less passing yards. Same rushing yards. Gave up 100 more yards.

    I expect UT to actually take a step back next year. Who will they have at QB? It’ll either be Stephens, who isn’t good enough to be out Crompton, or a true freshman. Good luck with that.

    Combine that with all the loses they have along the lines due to graduation and EB going pro, and it’s not going to be pretty.


    • The Realist

      …and not even a highly touted true freshman like a Stafford or Barkley, but option C or D or somewhere down the line.


  4. Dog in Fla

    “if Georgia football bloggers’ foreheads burst like they have been while the guy is losing, they’ll be beyond apoplectic when he’s winning. That will be fun to watch.”

    Most Georgia football bloggers blew forehead gaskets last year sometime after we were #1. Especially during Florida. I know I blew my gasket then although I’m not a blogger but like to play one when I pretend I’m here or on TV. Those gaskets haven’t been replaced yet.

    If Lane wins and this year and that will only be through the osmosis of Monte (using Chavis’ players) and EB, Lane probably will be treated the same way Georgia football bloggers treat Urban, Sabin, CPJ, Spurrier, etc., in other words, still not very well.


  5. Turd Ferguson

    I’ve never understood the “Yeah, but look how often we’re in the news” argument. How is the fact that everyone loves to talk about what a dumbass Lane Kiffin is even a MORAL victory for that football program?

    If Mark Richt were in the news for the sorts of reasons that Lane Kiffin has been in the news in the past year or so, I’d be hiding any and all evidence that I’m a Georgia fan.


  6. Macallanlover

    T.O. and O. J. brought attention to themselves also; Junior is not being admired so get over it. He is the poster child for how every AD doesn’t want their HC to act. The guy is an ass and I wouldn’t want my program tolerating his childish behavior. And I certainly wouldn’t want him teaching my players that acting like a French General and laying down while the battle was going on.

    I had always thought the UT fanbase to be the least knowledgeable CFB fans I have ever encountered in the South, now I can add they don’t get a whole lot more than just CFB. Laughingstock, and they are high fiving! Then, like Rusty, they look at the reactions around the country and say “dang, everyone is talking about us we must be doing something right (or they are scared, or envious, etc.) Perhaps as delusional as the August SEC Champs, the Coots.


  7. Joseph

    I disagree that the UT fans are the least knowledgeable but the are supreme strokes. The thought that the most recognizeable face of the University of Tennessee is a guy that comes off as a slimy, needling douche bag makes me laugh. Yet they say that he is bringing in recruits, who exactly? If you are attracting people by portraying that image what are you really getting? Would Peyton have come to play for Lane? I am sure that Leonard Little and Jamal Lewis would have but how many other great UT players would want to play for that stroke?


  8. ConnGator

    UT loses both defensive tackles, all three linebackers and Berry. Hardesty, Hancock, the TE, and 4 out of 5 offensive linemen are gone, too.

    They will be worse next year. SEC East is between Florida and Georgia.


  9. Gator

    With Junior’s brilliant “any PR is good PR” campaign, I can imagine that the recruits that will be really drawn to the program will have the same type of attitude. Going to a program because of the on-camera antics of a coach is crazy. If this is what happens, the Vols will be competing with Miami for the nation’s premadonas.