I’m Done

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Thanks Phil, But...

Saturday afternoon was it for me. I have avoided jumping over to the side of the fence that wants a change in the head coaching position at Tennessee for quite awhile now, but Saturday's performance pushed me over said fence full-bore.

The bottom line is that Tennessee is going to be a middle-of-the-pack SEC program until a change at the head coaching position is made.

I flirted with jumping on the "Fire Fulmer" wagon after the 59-20 loss to Florida last year, but still didn't. That day, the reason was the fact that our team quit and attitude reflects leadership. I even managed to avoid it after the horrible trip to Alabama when the entire staff forgot how to do their jobs. I dismissed UCLA as a fluke.

But Saturday's performance was just an awful display of football in every phase of this great game. Tennessee may not have the talent of the 90s (as Ghost of Neyland over at 3SIB points out here) and Florida may be loaded, but the fact of the matter is that Tennessee is too talented a team to get blown out at home and play as poorly as they did.

My most adamant complaint is kicking to Brandon James - twice. He beat us - both times. What does it take? Essentially three (in the sense one was called back) times we have let him beat us. Three. I threatened all week that if we kicked to him and he returned it, I would leave Neyland Stadium. I about did.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Obviously we should have punted it to Section P, but apparently everybody BUT our coach (or our punter) already new that..."][/caption]

Offensively, the execution is pitiful. Most of that I think is because Jonathan Crompton is, for lack of a better word, incompetent. Is he progressing? Slightly, but he is so mistake-prone that it's to a point where Dave Clawson is now limited as to what he can do. I'm still giving Clawson the benefit of the doubt, but Crompton just doesn't have it between the ears. I miss Erik Ainge...

Arian Foster, our supposed senior leader on offense, gets a stupid personal foul penalty making a third-and-short into a third-and-long, yet he misses no time. Foster disappeared in a big game yet again, yet still is the starter and Tennessee's primary ball carrier when BOTH Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer have shown more explosiveness. I have liked Arian, but I have been told that he isn't the leader many of us expected he would be.

Defensively, I don't know what to say. Yes, we held the powerfully explosive Gators to 200-something yards, but I credit that more to the fact Florida basically ran draw and read plays the entire second half up 27-0. You would have a tough time telling me that if that game was being played in Gainesville Saturday, that Florida doesn't get 50.

That said, the defensive effort is certainly there. They showed some backbone and never stopped fighting, but what's the point? What more can Eric Berry do? When is his play going to infect everyone else? We still can't stop anybody on third downs...

Don't even get me started on special teams. Lawvol went through that extensively in the new "Marching Orders from the General" feature (we have yet another one on tap for tomorrow as well). Maybe it's just Chad Cunningham...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Defenses we still play: Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and yes, even Kentucky...UH OH"][/caption]

Florida made it look real, real easy Saturday. They didn't even really have to try much and just let Tennessee make mistakes. Yes the Gators made plays when they had to, but they made that win look terrifyingly easy. They got in, got out, and on their way to their tougher games against LSU and Georgia.

Point is that this is just not a good football team from the coaching on down. And it's a shame, too. There's a pretty good level of talent on this team and it's being wasted. The players work too hard for this. Offensively this is mostly due to the poor QB play. Overall, defense included, this team just lacks aggressiveness.

I watch LSU pull out a gutsy win at Auburn Saturday night, and they run an onside kick and their defense (Auburn's, Georgia's, Florida's, Alabama's this season as well) is just flying around making plays. In scoring position with a chance at a game-winning FG, does Les Miles run it up the middle? No, he takes his freshman QB and throws a tough throw/route for the winning TD. Nick Saban is playing freshmen everywhere.

We are too tentative, too conservative, too afraid of making a mistake, and they are inevitable. And they happen. We can't get a freaking handoff. My friends and I could execute a handoff. We have no swagger that I see from these other teams. There's no question about the effort - which could be some reason for hope, maybe - but that's about it.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="325" caption="That pretty much sums up this past Saturday..."][/caption]

That's coaching, people. And for Tennessee to return to the level of being able to compete legitimately in today's SEC, there's going to have to be a change. Coach Fulmer has done more for this University than just about anybody else and deserves that credit. But it's time for him to step down. I just hope when it does happen, that it goes without too much drama and the nonsense that's happened at other schools (Rich Rodriguez comes to mind).

Unlike the ever-optimistic Lawvol, I have bailed on this season. I know I did foolishly last year, but I see no reason for a turnaround. None. At. All. Will I stop watching games? No, I'll be at Auburn Saturday and in Neyland for Northern Illinois next weekend. I'm still a fan, but there's something not right about not even overly caring that we got beat 30-6 on our own field a few hours after watching it happen.

It's a sad, sad time for the Tennessee football program...

But let's all remember to stick with the team through all this. It's time like these that make the better days so much sweeter.

GO VOLS!!


Images Courtesy of: Doug Finger / Gainesville SunStreeter Lecka / Getty Images (Orlando Sentinel Picture #18)

10 Responses to “I’m Done”

  • I was done last year. I’ve just been trying to convince myself that I wasn’t ever since. Nice post. That pic of Fulmer sums it up, and he should be embarrassed by it.

  • Home Sweet HomeNo Gravatar says:

    Ghost I bailed on the team last year, and was just plain fickle about the coaches. I guess you could call it denial. no more denial this year…

  • rbkNo Gravatar says:

    I was ready for a change last year but had remained hopeful that Phil could turn it around. I like the guy, really, and I hoped for the best. But you’re right– at this point it’s all too obvious that things aren’t going to be turned around.

    51 days til BruceBall. :-/

  • lawvolNo Gravatar says:

    Great post — even though I know many might disagree. I hope to have my thoughts on this up either tonight, or tomorrow.

  • BlakeNo Gravatar says:

    Coach Fulmer is certainly not the best HC in college football. However, the jury (in my mind) is still out on how much impact HC’s really have when it comes to execution (that goes for all programs). That said, CPF still gives his all for Tennessee, and his players give their all for him. As long as that is the case, I will continue to support him. When he steps down / is fired, I will support the next HC, as long as he bleeds orange and isn’t using this as a stepping stone to some other job (big problem in today’s coaching carousel).

    Coach Fulmer is a winner, and he loves Tennessee. I hope that is enough to turn this season around.

    Go Vols Beat Auburn!

  • TvolbrownNo Gravatar says:

    bad football teams but Neyland filled to the brim = coach survives.

    bad football team and only 75,000 in Neyland = pack your bags.

    If we are 1-3 after this weekend, then expect 75,000 in Neyland on Oct 4th.

    I respect Coach Fulmer a ton but we look worst than Memphis.

    Neyland at 75,000 will force Hamilton’s hand on this one.

  • Home Sweet HomeNo Gravatar says:

    thanks for all the comments guys.

    I still support Coach Fulmer, and the players – my fellow students who I walk this campus with an see on occasion – deserve it. I’ll be in Jordan-Hare Saturday afternoon and I’ll be in Neyland for NIU next weekend. still, it’s time for a change. do I hope Phil can turn it around? absolutely, but I’ve come to the reality that it’s not going to happen that way…

    when the day comes that Fulmer does step down, no doubt in my mind it’s going to be a sad day after all has has done for this University and this program. the bottom line is that we are going to have to wait for the season to play out as it is…

  • GrahamCNo Gravatar says:

    Boys.. bad news.. And for us NOT to take this seriously would be a very unwise move and would make us underestimate what has been boiling in Crimson nation over the past 20 years.. A friend of mine who goes to Georgia has been hanging out with some Alabama fans, and apparently they have some plans for next weekend.. The text message I recieved is as follows:

    “apparently ut attendace for northern illinois is estimated at 70000. bama fans claiming they are hoping to bring 30000 to drive the final stake in phils heart and declare they are back to dominate tennessee”

    I unfortunately think this could be very true. Our disgusting student session could be filled with all bama fans yelling Rammer Jammer Golden Hammer.. I am one of the few Orange Blooded fans of my generation that hates bama more than any other school and knows that the third saturday in october is the True rivalry in the SEC.

    Mike Hamilton.. If you thought seeing an empty student section in the upper deck two homes in a row was bad, wait til the hell and hath furry that will reign down on you on 99.1 and the News Sentinel. Please lord, don’t let October 4th, 2008 be the day we were reminded that Bama.. is back..

  • Home Sweet HomeNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t believe that, for a couple reasons:

    (1) they’re Bammer fans – they always talk alot…
    (2) the economy – if Tennessee fans won’t even pay to watch the Vols play a mid-level MAC team, why would Bammer fans?
    (3) it would be about a riot. you think any proud Tennessee fan would let that garbage happen?? hello, fights!
    (4) Bammer will still be licking their wounds after UGa pounds them Saturday night…

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