Posts Tagged ‘Rich Brooks’

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2009 SEC Previews | Gate 21


Buy Clonidine Without Prescription, Three years, three bowl games, three bowl wins.


The last time Kentucky football had seen a similar stretch of success, they had Tim Couch throwing the ball all over Commonwealth Stadium in the Fun’N’Gun-on-steroids offense of Hal Mumme.



After Jared Lorenzen became the school’s all-time career passing leader and a combined 5 wins in Rich Brooks’ first two years, Andre Woodson came in and by his senior season had not only made the Wildcats a competitive team that couldn’t be taken lightly by the SEC heavyweights, but had Kentucky ranked in the top 10 in the country after knocking off top-ranked LSU.


However, the bottom fell out on the rest of that 2007 season, and after Woodson graduated, along with a trio of targets currently on NFL rosters (Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson and Jacob Tamme), many – including myself felt Kentucky was going to fall back a little bit into their normal role of fighting with Vanderbilt to stay out of the SEC East cellar.


But, despite averaging only 18 points a game in the conference, Kentucky managed six wins (the Wildcats went just 2-6 in the SEC) and capped it off by beating Conference USA champion East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. Where can i buy Clonidine online, However, with the departure of the majority of the defense Kentucky relied and the struggles of the offense, Clonidine treatment, Clonidine price, can Kentucky reach a fourth straight bowl, something they’ve never done in 120 years of playing football?


Schedule Breakdown



    Assumed wins:

  • vs, order Clonidine no prescription. Clonidine trusted pharmacy reviews, Miami-Ohio at Cincinnati (the Redhawks were just 2-10 last year, including a 34-13 loss to Vanderbilt at home)

  • UL-Monroe

  • Mississippi State (UK won at State last year)

  • Eastern Kentucky

  • Assumed losses:

  • Florida (that streak Tennessee has against Kentucky, Clonidine results. Clonidine use, Florida is just a game behind, with 22 straight wins over the Cats)

  • Alabama (Kentucky lost just 17-14 in Tuscaloosa last year, comprar en línea Clonidine, comprar Clonidine baratos, About Clonidine, but they’ve only beaten Bama twice ever?

  • at South Carolina (Steve Spurrier doesn’t lose to Kentucky - he’s 16-0 all-time)

  • at Georgia (Kentucky’s lost 11 of 12 in the series)

  • Toss-ups:

  • Louisville

  • at Auburn

  • at Vanderbilt

  • Tennessee


Studs


WR Randall Cobb (Soph.): Kentucky had no real playmakers when they lost Rafael Little, Burton, Clonidine pharmacy, Clonidine no rx, Johnson and Tamme. Enter Cobb, buy cheap Clonidine, Purchase Clonidine online, the true freshman from nearby Alcoa. Cobb started the year at receiver, catching two TDs in the come-from-behind win over Arkansas in October.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Randall Cobb is the best playmaker for the Kentucky offense"][/caption]

Mike Hartline played most of the year at QB, but Cobb outplayed Hartline in the 63-5 beatdown in Gainesville and started the next 3 games, leading Kentucky to win in Starkville and coming up just short of upsetting Georgia in a 42-38 loss, Buy Clonidine Without Prescription. In all, Clonidine pictures, Clonidine from canada, Cobb scored 11 TDs (7 rushing) and though he’ll once again start the year at receiver, head coach Rich Brooks said at last week’s SEC Media Days we’ll see Cobb in a Wildcat package – either way, japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, Clonidine without prescription, he’s probably Kentucky’s best offensive skill player.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="253" caption="Micah Johnson led UK in tackles for loss in 2008"][/caption]

The offensive line: Kentucky has three seniors starting on the line this year – Jorge Gonzalez at center and tackles Justin Jeffries and Zipp Duncan. They also have four other players back who have started games before, Clonidine images, Clonidine schedule, so it’s an experienced group. They’re also pretty good, buy Clonidine online cod, Buy Clonidine without a prescription, because they only the fewest sacks in the SEC last year (13). What can help struggles at the QB position better than an offensive line.


MLB Micah Johnson (Sr.): Johnson was a first team all-SEC player last year, ordering Clonidine online, Clonidine use, racking up 93 tackles, second on the team, Clonidine long term. Buy Clonidine Without Prescription, He’ll be anchoring not only a new linebacking corps, but an almost entirely new defense. Generic Clonidine, Johnson and cornerback Trevard Lindley are Kentucky’ best defensive players, as it will be tough for Kentucky’s defense to be as good as they were last year.

X-Factors


QB Mike Hartline (Jr.): Hartline was in no way spetacular last season, purchase Clonidine online no prescription, Clonidine over the counter, as by the end of the year he was benched in favor of Cobb. Kentucky ranked only ahead of Tennessee, Clonidine brand name, Clonidine description, MSU and Vandy in passing last year, and Hartline’s issues were the major reason for that, Clonidine duration. Where can i buy cheapest Clonidine online, He completed just 55% of his passes and threw for 9 TDs with 8 picks. In addition to Cobb, online buy Clonidine without a prescription, Clonidine australia, uk, us, usa, he’s got two freshman (Morgan Newton and four-star Ryan Mossakowski) coming in. Whether it’s Hartline or Cobb or whoever, the QB position is obviously the key to any improvements in Kentucky’s offense.


Linebackers: As I mentioned above, Micah Johnson is the only linebacker returning for Kentucky, Buy Clonidine Without Prescription. They’ll have to replace Braxton Kelley, my Clonidine experience, No prescription Clonidine online, who led the team in tackles last year, and Johnny Williams, Clonidine cost. Buy cheap Clonidine, The rest of the group. 40 tackles and one combined start combined, discount Clonidine. Clonidine street price, However, keep an eye on sophomore Sam Maxwell.


Close games: Kentucky played 8 games last year that were decided by a touchdown last year, rx free Clonidine. Buy Clonidine Without Prescription, The Wildcats were 4-4 in those games, and they caught some breaks in those games: Middle Tennessee State’s hail mary as time expired came up just a yard short, Arkansas blew a 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter in Lexington, and Mississippi State missed an extra point and short field goal in the fourth quarter. Can they do as well in close games against this year?

What's New, but Maybe Not Improved


[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Derrick Locke led Kentucky in rushing before a knee injury against Arkansas ended his year"][/caption]

RB Derrick Locke (Jr.): Forgotten in the memories of Woodson and Company from 2007 is running back Derrick Locke, the speedy back who provided a spark to that offense as a true freshman. Locke suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Arkansas game last season, and up to that point he was Kentucky’s leading rusher.


Locke, along with junior Moncell Allen, provide a nice group little scat-type backs that fit Joker Phillips’ offense. Senior Alfonso Smith is also in the backfield as Kentucky leading returning rusher not named Randall Cobb.


Defensive Line: Having to replace tackle Myron Pryor and end Ventrell Jenkins is one thing, but add in the suspension and departure of end Jeremy Jarmon and Kentucky’s might have some issues on the defensive front.


Tackle Corey Peters is still there, but the play of a pair of junior college transfers – end DeQuin Evans and tackle Mark Crawford – could be a key in Kentucky’s run defense and pass rush.


Secondary: Paul Warford started 14 games in 2006 and 2007, but redshirted last year. He’ll compete for the corner spot opposite Lindley along with some younger guys who have started before – safeties Calvin Harrison, Ashton Cobb, Taiedo Smith and Matt Lentz. Winston Guy is another guy (?) who could make a big impact, Buy Clonidine Without Prescription. Kentucky was 40th in the nation against the pass last year, and despite losing a couple of starters, the Cats could still be solid on the back end.

HSH's Bold Prediction


I think Kentucky can beat Louisville (they pounded the Cardinals 27-2 last year on the road) and Vanderbilt at home. They should be able to hold serve against Mississippi State at home and take care of business against the other three out-of-conference foes. That gets the Cats to 6 wins and a likely bowl game, which would be a fairly remarkable job by Rich Brooks.


Can they get a seventh win in there. They could beat Auburn and Tennessee considering the unknowns with new coaching staffs of those two teams, but I don’t see that happening. Either way, I expect to stay on the course and get to another bowl.


-- About Home Sweet Home... ... to me.



Images Courtesy of: David Stephenson / Lexington Herald Leadernationalchamps.netGetty Images / Daylife
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Differin For Sale, Well, after failing to get my Oklahoma State preview up in time for the game, and given the quick end to the BasketVols' run in the NCAA Tournament, I really haven’t had a lot to offer these past few days.  Of course, when you set the bar very low—which has always been the policy of Gate 21—it takes extra effort to fail in grand style.  I guess I am running behind in my running behind…


In the meantime, here’s a little something that is worth giving a look.  I'm a bit behind in getting this up, but this is pretty funny if you ask me (which I realize you didn't).


Here is a pretty hilarious look at the various coaches of the SEC in a way that I don’t think I have ever seen before.  As always, this comes courtesy of VolzRChamps and BlazerChronicles.com, with a Tennessee All-Sports Update.


The Blazer Chronicles: A "Quotetastic" Look at the SEC




That Bobby Johnson quote is simply priceless...


-- So it goes …About Lawvol



Video Courtesy of: VolzRChamps / You TubeBlazer Chronicles
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Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21


Rusty over at RTT has offered up 5 theories for Lane Kiffin's (a/k/a the Blackjack General) barb to Urban Meyer yesterday.  They are worth a read.  Rusty's theories started a rather interesting discussion on the subject.


Anyway, here are my two cents worth, which I originally posted over on RTT as a comment (with the addition of the video and image):


The comment on Meyer is simply a comment made to a closed group being taken out of context.  That is, Kiffin said “cheating” in the sense of “man, that’s some slimy stuff” but is was taken as “violation of codified NCAA and SEC rules and regulations.” In other words, he was speaking like a normal person and not like some degenerate lawyer (I can say that, I are one).


In the big picture, I think that there is a method to Kiff’s madness.  I think he realizes that the Tennessee fans need something to help rally them to “the flag,” which a little controversy will accomplish.


Furthermore, I think — rightly or wrongly — he perceives a belief among the fans that Tennessee has been the “nice guy fuddy-duddy” type for a long time and have never really stood its ground the way it could (See Charlie Brown).  I think that there is a definite feeling of this sort among many in the Big Orange fanbase.


I also think he believes that the opposite it true — that other coaches (especially Urban Meyer) have gotten used to walking on Tennessee and now feel an entitlement of sorts.  I think this is also true.  I think Kiff realizes that he has to stop that, and that the fans will gladly support him in this.


I also think — given who he has attacked and who he hasn’t (See Mark Richt, Houston Nutt, Rich Brooks, Les Miles, etc.) — that it is a calculated move to agitate those who simply cannot stand being agitated and love to agitate constantly.  Steve Spurrier was the master of this in the 1990s — and it was very effective.  Kiffin wants to try and begin to get in the heads of others who believe themselves to be mighty, but has notably spared the friendly sorts. After Lumigan, (Oh, and for the record, Lumigan reviews, Australia, uk, us, usa, Spurrier can take being agitated. In fact it often seems to make him respect others more, Lumigan trusted pharmacy reviews. No prescription Lumigan online, Plus, he was pretty affable in response to the whole recruiting test discourse.)


I think Kiff probably understands that the team might not fare well at first, but he is showing that he’s not willing to be pushed around now.  It’s the proverbial “knock me down, Lumigan without prescription, Discount Lumigan, and I’ll get back up and say it again, so you can knock me down, Lumigan images, Purchase Lumigan, so I can get up and say it again, till I get strong enough that you can no longer knock me down” approach (man what a run-on).


I also think that Kiffin is simply not the kind of guy who shirks from a challenge, Lumigan recreational, Lumigan steet value, and the staff he has assembled bears that out. (Compare Mr, Lumigan brand name. Edward Orgeron and … the World)  Call me crazy, but he almost has me believing that he can pull it off as well.


To be able to win, you have to first believe that you can win.  To take on the invincible, you have to believe you are invincible, Lumigan For Sale. Herbal Lumigan, (See This is Sparta)

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Of course, I also believe that Elvis Presley is living in Vonore, buy generic Lumigan, Buy Lumigan from canada, Tennessee under the assumed name “Leyland T. Vegas” and that Plate Tectonics is all part of some nefarious Communist conspiracy

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At its basic level, doses Lumigan work, Lumigan description, however, Kiffin is accomplishing something — getting the fans and team ready for a fight and getting the media interested enough to show up and document it all, Lumigan cost. Where can i cheapest Lumigan online,

•  HT to / via:  Five theories about Lane Kiffin's jab at Urban Meyer | Rocky Top Talk



I suppose it all comes down to Jules Winnfield / Samuel L. Jackson's statement: "Oh, purchase Lumigan online, Lumigan dose, well allow me to retort..."

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An Open Letter to the Vol Nation: A Manifesto on Past, Present, and Future

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21
[Note:  This post is exceptionally long—even for me—and I apologize for this.  I simply felt that a lot of these things needed saying, and I really haven't heard them elsewhere.  Thus, if you'll forgive my long-windedness,  I promise there is a point to this.  I just felt this that this isn't a simple issue, and thus I needed to explain.  -Lawvol]

Of all the posts I have ever written as a blogger, all the comments I have ever posted on message boards and other blogs, all the public professions I have ever made regarding the Tennessee Volunteers, this one is by far the most difficult one for me.  I’d really rather not be in the position of feeling it necessary to write this.  To fail to address the issue, however, would be to ignore the giant looming cloud over the heads of all of the Vol-faithful, regardless of their thoughts or position.

www.tennesseefansite.com-2Obviously, I am talking about the “situation” with the Tennessee Football coaching staff.

For the record, I am a Phillip Fulmer fan.  I believe that he has done more for the Tennessee program than anyone else over the last fifteen years.  I credit him with taking Tennessee from the mish-mash of the middle tier of college football and propelling the Vols to the very pinnacle of success.  I credit him with bringing the program into the modern era.  I credit him with making many of the things to which we as Tennessee fans have become accustomed possible.  I like Coach Fulmer, or the “Great Punkin” as I routinely refer to him (with no slight or insult intended).

I guess that makes me a homer

To the best of my recollection, the only time I have ever openly criticized the Tennessee coaching staff was during the past off-season when off-field incidents involving Vol footballers were escalating alarmingly, by my mind calling into question the integrity of the program and the University of Tennessee itself.  Aside from that, I have always refrained from going after the coaches like so many seem to want to do.  I wrote a little about this after the UCLA game, stating:

… I would say that I am more appropriately a Homer for all coaches across the landscape of college football who are constantly questioned, rebuked, and derided by tens of thousands of come-lately armchair geniuses.

It is a peculiar characteristic of so many fans that they believe that simply being a follower of a team for a given length of time makes them an expert on how things should be done.  Make no mistake, as a sports blogger, I am as guilty of this offense as anyone—at least to some extent.  There are things that anyone with a brain can assess and analyze based purely upon common sense, life experience, and the fluff that resides between our ears.

* * * * *

These sorts of basic truths are fairly and frankly within the grasp of us all, and thus the rightful ability to comment on such profundities resides with each and every person who follows college football.  In much the same vein, I think it is reasonable for many (note, I did not say “all”) long-term fans of the sport to comment on what a given team does, or in most cases, did.

Beyond that, however, it seems to me that trying to profess what the best way to coach a football team—a team to which most have no access except through their televisions—is an endeavor which necessarily makes the speaker feel smart and important, while simultaneously making them look foolish and arrogant.

I have absolutely no idea about what it takes to coach a major college football team.  I’m completely clueless.  Furthermore, I have no idea what it is like to play on such a team.  Again, clueless.  I am also willing to bet that most who are attacking Phil Fulmer and the Tennessee coaching staff at present share my level of experience and insight.  So, at a minimum, I guess I am among equally-ignorant equals when it comes to assessing the coaches.

Unlike many others, however, I am not going to attack the Great Punkin, Dave Clawson, John Chavis, or any of the other coaches.  I am simply going to speak about what I do know and speak from the heart:

Though I first watched Tennessee under Coach Majors, most of my life as a Tennessee fan, student, and alum has been during the tenure of Coach Fulmer.  I think he is a man of integrity, a man of honor, a skilled and adept football coach, and a great leader and teacher for the young men he coaches.  I have such deep respect for what he has done.  In his 17-year career as Tennessee’s head coach, Fulmer is 148-47-1 (.759), he has won 10 or more games in a season nine times, he has won or tied for the SEC East title seven times, he has won 2 SEC Championships, and the 1998 National Championship.  I remember all of these “good old days” like they were yesterday.

Coach Fulmer has done a lot, a whole lot…

By the same token, things simply have not been good for the Vols for some time now.  Here are a few statistics:

  • Last SEC Championship: 1998 (No Coach in UT history had a longer drought and retained their job)
  • Last BCS Game Appearance: 1999
  • Only one Top-10 finish this decade (2001)
  • Last 50 Games 32-18 (.648) [Johnny Majors was 39-9-2 (.780 wins only / .820 wins & ties) over his final 50 games]
  • Failed to finish in the Top-25 twice this decade in any poll and finished 25th in the AP in 2000 (unranked in Coaches Poll)
  • Signed a recruiting class outside the Top-20 in two of the past three seasons
  • 5-12 versus Florida all-time
  • 14-13 in the last 27 SEC Games
  • 28-27 (.509) versus Current SEC Coaches
    • 0-4 versus Urban Meyer (Florida)
    • 1-2 versus Les Miles (LSU)
    • 3-4 versus Mark Richt (Georgia)
    • 1-3 versus Nick Saban (LSU & Alabama)
    • 5-8 versus Steve Spurrier (Florida & South Carolina)
    • 3-3 versus Tommy Tuberville (Ole Miss & Auburn)
  • Coach Fulmer has a winning record of 15-3 against Rich Brooks (Kentucky), Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State), Bobby Johnson (Vanderbilt), and Houston Nutt (Arkansas only)
Over the last decade (since 1998) the Tennessee Volunteers under Fulmer are:
  • 1-8 (.111) at home versus Top-10 Teams
  • 17-23 (.425) versus ranked teams
  • 13-21 (.382) versus Florida, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, and Alabama
Statistical Analysis Courtesy of: Tony Basilio.com

These numbers speak volumes…

Of course, I am enough of a realist to understand that no team—whether Tennessee, Southern Cal, or the Green Bay Packers—can have a championship year every year.  Every great team has bad years.  It just seems that it has been a long time since Tennessee has had a truly good year.  I freely acknowledge that in 2007 Tennessee had what, on paper, looks like a good year.  In 2007, the Vols went 10-4 and won the SEC East.  That said, even the most stalwart Vol fan would have to admit that Tennessee won the SEC East in a highly unorthodox manner.  Tennessee was beaten in the 2007 season opener versus California 45-31.  Two weeks later the Vols were annihilated by the Florida Gators 59-20 and were subsequently thumped by the Alabama Crimson Tide 41-17.  The only reason that the Vols made the trip to the  SEC Championship Game was that—under league rules—the tie went to Tennessee since the Vols defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in head-to-head competition.  In other words, the Orange and White backed into the Eastern Division title.

Prior to that, really since the 2001 season, the Vols have underperformed versus SEC and national rivals, and have—at best—been a mediocre team from a statistical perspective.  During that time, I cannot recount the number of times that the Vols have barely beaten teams that were wholly inferior in terms of talent.  What’s more, the Volunteers have regularly failed to meet the expectations of fans and analysts when considered against teams with similar recruiting classes and resources.  Then of course there was the 2005 season, or—as Joel at RTT describes it—“The Season of Which We do not Speak in which Tennessee recorded a 5-6 record.

It seems that Tennessee has struggled at every turn since winning the 1998 Championship…

Jump forward to this year and the UCLA game, in which Tennessee loses to a UCLA team which the Vols were projected to beat handily.  As I and others have said, there is absolutely no reason that the Vols should have lost that game.  To make bad matters worse, since defeating the Vols, the Bruins have gone on to lose two more games in which they failed to score a single touchdown for the first time in 44 years. (HT Get the Picture)  Tennessee then managed a lackluster win over a clearly out-matched UAB team before playing the Florida Gators.  As I said in my "Marching Orders" piece earlier this week, that game was one of the poorest displays I’ve ever seen from a Vols squad.

Although I cannot really recall when it all started, the Tennessee fanbase began growing restless as early as 2002.  Even then, there was a small but vocal minority of fans that felt it was time for Fulmer to go.  Those voices of criticism were largely ignored by the masses until now.  After the Florida defeat, those voices have swelled to the point that they can no longer be ignored.  Just looking at the Vol-blogosphere, there are fewer and fewer that support Fulmer and even more voices criticizing than ever before—including 3SIB’s Ghost of Neyland, SouthEastern Sports Blog, YMSWWC, Curveballs for Jesus, BasilioMoonDog, the absurd Coacho Ocho, and Gate 21’s own HSH.

So here I am…

I have thought long and hard about this, and as HSH here at the Gate and Joel at Rocky Top Talk would attest, I’ve struggled with this.  In the end, I have reached a conclusion that is sad, but unavoidable:

It’s time…

Those were the words that longtime Voice of the Vols” John Ward used to announce his retirement.  Ward said that he’d rather leave years too early than stay one minute too late, thus he retired while still at the top of his game in 1998.  Coach Fulmer is hardly at the top of his game lately, but he is also not out of the game.  The reality is that the furor among the fans is tearing the Orange Nation apart as fans attack the coaches, the team, and anything else they can think of (including the concession vendors at Neyland Stadium).  All of Big Orange Country is in an uproar.  As a result, the only thing anyone seems to want to talk about is whether Phil Fulmer should be fired.  It’s not about the game, whether the Vols can win this weekend, or the beautiful agony that is college football season.  For this and a bevy of other reasons, I am increasingly beginning to believe that it is time for Coach Fulmer to seriously consider whether it is time to step aside.  I hate the thought that someone who has done so much for Tennessee would be forced out, but until some sort of resolution comes, I wonder if the program can possibly move forward.

I have reached this conclusion not necessarily based upon my personal belief that Coach Fulmer cannot and would not turn this season and future seasons around.  The sad conclusion I have reached is that—in the minds of many—it does not matter what he does going forward, their minds are made up and they want something new.  I for one have not yet decided whether I think Coach Fulmer can turn things around, but that is really irrelevant.  This is not about my complaints on his performance.  It is about the constant turmoil that has subtly, and now openly, surrounded the program for some time now.

It’s just not fun anymore…

Until the current whirlwind settles, it’s not going to be fun any time soon.  Rightly or wrongly, the fan base has lost faith and along with it hope that the Vols can get back on the right track both this year and for the future.  Of course, don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that a man’s career should be decided by whether or not it’s “fun” for me to go to football games.  The larger issue I am pointing to is the lack of direction and the complete feeding frenzy that is currently surrounding the Tennessee program.  I’m not going to pass judgment on whether the fans should be blaming Coach Fulmer because I don’t have the experience or knowledge to decide whether he or others are to blame.  All I know is that something must change.

www.thevib.com-1 I have followed Tennessee football since I was a kid.  I have closely followed the Vols since the mid-1980s.  I grew up watching Coach Majors lead the Vols.  I still remember wanting his autograph back then.  When he was ousted as head coach in 1992, all hell broke loose and a war of words began which—to some extent—still goes on today.  There was such controversy over Coach Majors being fired and Coach Fulmer being tapped as the Vols new head coach, that both sides of the issue started digging-in and flinging allegations at one another.

For the record, I believe that at that the time naming Coach Fulmer as the new coach was the right thing to do (it was, and is, rare for me to agree with the Big Dickey, but he got that one right).  While I do not want to re-open the arguments surrounding Coach Majors’ dismissal, I believed then and continue to believe now that it was time for Coach Majors to step aside, not because he had not been a great coach and representative for the university, but because it was simply time for a change.  Majors, however, wanted to stay.  Thus, when Coach Majors did finally leave, it was as a result of his being fired as opposed to him stepping down—and his departure occurred under a cloud of innuendo and harsh words.  I still remember watching him loudly complain of having been "shanghaied" as he described his firing in an interview televised during the halftime of the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl, which Phillip Fulmer was in the process of coaching.

As a result of this debacle, to this day, little has been done to honor Coach Majors’ legacy and his contributions to the University of Tennessee, its athletic programs, its alumni, and beyond.  This is a man who compiled a record of 116-62-8 (.645) as head football coach, and to this day he is spoken of very … carefully … by the athletic department, alumni, and boosters.  That is just plain wrong.  You know what, I still want Johnny Majors’ autograph.

I do not want all of that to happen again, this time to Coach Fulmer and his legacy…

I personally believe that Coach Fulmer rightly deserves to be counted among the greats at Tennessee—along with General Neyland and Johnny Majors—and I hope that he always will be.  What I fear more than anything is that the protracted dispute over Coach Fulmer remaining as head coach will lead to another round of what played out after Coach Majors left—especially if Fulmer is ultimately fired as opposed to simply resigning.  Both of these men—who have given so much to the university—deserve more than that.

We as fans deserve more than that…

Do I hate the thought of Coach Fulmer being forced—either directly or indirectly—from the head coaching position?  You’re damn right I do.  I am a huge Fulmer fan, but I simply do not think that the program, the fan base, the University of Tennessee, and Coach Fulmer’s legacy can survive this continued civil war.  Now some would say that I am essentially talking out of both sides of my face—engaging in an attack and hero-worship.  This is not a wholly unfair criticism.  Still, it is what I believe.

There are other things I believe as well…

What I am not going to do is become the attacker, and I am more than willing to assertively address the actions of many of the malcontents and ne’er-do-wells in the Vol Nation.  If you believe that Coach Fulmer needs to move on, that’s fine.  State your case, make your argument, express your opinion, and go from there.  If you have a meaningful point to add to the conversation, please feel free to do so.  If, however, all you are going to do is engage in unprovoked ad hominem attacks against Coach Fulmer, then just keep quiet.  Have some class.  This is especially true for the "faceless" names on message boards, blog comments, and call-in shows. who are quick to pile on harsh criticism behind the shield of "user name" anonymity.  It is for that very reason that, for this post, I am lifting the veil surrounding my online persona as “lawvol,” and signing this post as a “real” person—with my real name.

Regardless of what those of you so loudly attacking Coach Fulmer may think of his abilities, he is a person—not simply an item that UT has bought and paid for—and a man who has tirelessly represented the University of Tennessee for most of his adult life.  He has earned the right to be treated with some semblance of respect and decency.  If a Florida fan were saying some of the things that Vol boosters are currently saying, people would be clamoring for vengeance.  Some apparently feel that now—with blood in the water—they can say whatever they please as they personally attack Fulmer, his staff, and the current Vol players.  That is juvenile and classless.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than willing to poke fun at sports figures here at the Gate—the Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive is a temple to that sort of behavior.  What I do not do—at least never intentionally—is vindictively attack another person simply because I can.  The coaches and players are human beings—who work very hard at what they do—and though I realize having thick skin comes with the territory, putting up with asinine attacks should not have to be part of the deal.  That sort of behavior by fans does nothing to help mend or meaningfully address the situation at hand.

Furthermore, there are those that are openly jubilant that the Vols have found the going so rough this year—those who have been dying to let loose on the coaches for years.  To those of you who fall into that category, I simply say this: you are no true fan of anything but your own ego.  No one who is truly a fan and supporter of the University of Tennessee athletics program should wish for this.  No one should ever wish misfortune on an institution they profess to support regardless of the reason.  Wanting change is one thing—wanting conflict, an entirely different one.

I just feel sorry for the coaches having to try to coach a team—working to find a way to get things going in the right direction—while everyone on the outside is screaming for blood.  This is especially true for some of the assistant coaches who have now gotten caught up in this battle through no real fault of their own.  I feel terribly sorry for them since they have gotten caught up in this by simply being here at Tennessee.  In particular, I feel  dreadful for Dave Clawson, Stan Drayton, and Latrell Scott—they came here this season with high hopes, wanting to help build a new future.  They uprooted their families and their lives to make a commitment to Tennessee, and now they are in a firestorm.  That is really unfortunate.

The same is true for the players, who give their all to make Tennessee shine.  They try their hardest.  Even when that is not enough, they still try.  Seeing Vol fans attack them and boo them is something I never thought I would see.

To all Vol fans, speak your mind, speak your heart, speak loudly, but think before you speak…

I may end up regretting this post for many years to come.  To those on the coaching staff—especially Coach Fulmer—please do not take this to be yet another fair-weather fan turning on the program when the going gets tough.  I am not saying this because I hope that the current coaching staff is either fired or resigns.  I am simply saying this because I care enough about the Tennessee Volunteers to speak out.

In all honesty, I hope that I am dead wrong.  I hope with all that I am that the Great Punkin can work his magic, turn the season around, and go on to win a championship next year.  I would never be happier to admit I am wrong—trust me, I want to be wrong.  The fact of the matter is, however, based upon the experience of the last decade, I no longer think that I am wrong.  I still remain hopeful that I am.

Either way, I will support Coach Fulmer and the rest of the coaching staff from here into the future.  I will support this team, and all of its players regardless of what happens this season, or next, or the season after that.  As far as I am concerned, it’s not a question of whether Phillip Fulmer is my coach, whether Jonathan Crompton is my quarterback, or Dave Clawson is my offensive coordinator—though the answer to each of those questions is “yes.”  The only question that really matters to me is “What are your colors?

Orange and White!

I am going to support this team and this staff no matter what.  I am hopeful—as I always am.  Who knows what the future holds?

In the meantime, I’ll keep pulling for the Big Orange and looking forward to the day when Tennessee is once again at the top of the heap.

For when that day comes—and it will—I can say that I was there all along…

Respectfully,


Images Courtesy of: TennesseeFansite.comThe VIB

Hmmm, not sure what to say about the game this week…

As Joel over at RTT and Ghost at 3SIB both noted, UAB is -- well -- "special."  Between the Blazers' apparent lack of a defense and their real inability to develop any offense, I really just don't know what to say about this game.

In the past this would be when I would post some slightly off-color doctored photograph poking fun at UAB for their slim chances at winning the game.  I would probably pile on with a number of statements making fun of their coaches, players, fans cheerleaders, etc.  I would generally be a prototypical haughty SEC fan.

After the UCLA game, however, I am going to refrain from being petty and take the high road...

By announcing that I have recently updated the Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive to include more fine works of the Farkers' art..

Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive | Gate 21

Including some of these beauties:

The Bear www.smashsouthsports.org-17.jpg

When you have nothing intelligent to say, never fear resorting to low brow humor...

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: SoonerFans.comSmashSouthSports.com

SEC Power Poll: Preseason

Check out the Full Poll Results over at Garnet and Black Attack

As was the case with the College Football BlogPoll, the infinite wisdom of those responsible for the SEC Power Poll is now also shown to be seriously lacking.  Why?  Because Power Poll Administrator and guru CockNFire over at Garnet and Black Attack has thrown reason to the wind and allowed Gate 21 to join the mix -- a sure sign that Power Poll is doomed.

Be that as it may, on this first week of the 2008 Power Poll, since there have been no games played, we the pollsters have been charged with the task of ranking the current head coaches for the SEC schools.  Given my complete inability to follow conventional wisdom, I have a somewhat unusual No. 1 -- a point that I'm sure will leave both of my readers scratching their heads.

Either way, here's my ballot (with my contorted rationalizations as to why I believe such foolish things):

SEC Power Poll -- The Coaches

1.  Sylvester Croom -- Mississippi State

A lot of folks will probably think I am crazy for tabbing Sly Croom as the top coach in the SEC, but I really do strongly feel that he is deserving, and is the best coach in the SEC at present.  I know I'm going to have to defend this one, probably.

I discussed my reasons for choosing Croom as the best in Week 4 of the Big Orange Roundtable (Question 5).  In that response, I wrote:

When Croom took over, the Bulldogs were awful — they just plain sucked.  After 3 years of winning only 3 games, however, Croom finally seemed to turn the corner in Starkville in 2007 finishing 8-5 (4-4 SEC) for the season — the first winning season for Miss. State since 2000.

While I realize his win / loss record is not what it could be (17-30 overall) managing to bring the Bulldogs back to respectability is, in my book, a major accomplishment.  Let’s be frank here, it’s called “Stark“ville for a reason.  Recruiting for the Bulldogs is probably as challenging as any other school in the SEC, perhaps with the exception of Vanderbilt.  Yet, somehow, Croom has managed to right the ship and bring the program back from the bowels of football hell.

What’s more, this year’s team returns 14 starters — all of whom were recruited by Croom — and looks to be set to make another strong showing this year.  They should be even better than they were in 2007, and I’d be highly surprised if the Bulldogs don’t end up in a bowl this year.  I have real fear when it comes to the Vols' game against the Bulldogs this year.  My only hope is that the boys in orange don’t “overlook” the cowbell clan — if they do, they will lose.

For me a coach's overall record is not nearly as important as their ability to demonstrate progress in moving toward a goal -- is the program better, worse, or the same as it was when the coach arrived on campus.  Winning 9 games in your first season at Florida followed by a national championship is not nearly as significant to me as managing to drag a program which has collapsed back to success.  Sly Croom has lost a lot of games in Starkville over the past few years, but it appears that he has finally managed to get the program back on track.  That impresses me a great deal, and that is why he's at the top of my list.

2.  Mark Richt -- Georgia

Here I return back to the thoughts of the masses.  It is difficult to argue with Richt's successes at Georgia.  In seven years as head coach, he's had five 10-win (or more) seasons.  Over that time period he has garnered three BCS bowl bids for the Bulldogs, has had a 72-19 (40-16 SEC) record, and earned two SEC Championships.  That is impressive.

My only criticisms of Richt (which keep him out of first place) are that he has failed to win a national championship for the Dawgs or contend for one.  Of course, the same can be said for Sylvester Croom.  The reason I hold this against Richt is due to the state off the Georgia program when he took over the reins.  The year before Richt was hired, "Whisperin' Jim" Donnan led the Dawgs to an 8-4 (5-3 SEC) record and a bowl.  That is not exactly a derelict program.

Thus, even though Richt has advanced the Bulldog program from where it was, he has one more step to go before he -- in my twisted mind -- manages to match the level of improvement Croom has brought to Mississippi State.

3.  Tommy Tuberville -- Auburn

Tommy Tuberville has been quietly building a great tradition down on the plains.  Since taking over in in 1999, Tuberville has amassed a 80-33 (49-23 SEC) record, an SEC championship, and has pretty much owned the Iron Bowl.  He has also used about 5,000 gallons of hair shellac.  Tuberville's teams always seem as prepared as any team in the country on gameday, which is as impressive as it is rare these days.  His strong record and proven system puts him right near the top in my book.

All of that said, Auburn is always seemingly right on the cusp of winning a championship, but never seem to be able to finish the deal.  For that reason, he's only third.

4.  Les Miles -- LSU

It's hard to argue with the power of the hat over the past three years.  The reason Miles comes in at number four, rather than higher up the chain is due to the fact that he is just beginning to field teams peopled with players he has recruited.  Furthermore, going back to my "advance the program" notion, when Miles took over the Tigers were coming off of a 9-3 (6-2 SEC) season.  It's pretty easy to win in that situation.

If he continues to win going forward, then he will most definitely move up.

5.  Urban Meyer -- Florida

Meyer has won a BCS title game and has racked up an impressive record since taking over in 2005.  My criticisms of Meyer largely mirror those I made for Miles with one addition.  In 2007 Meyer's Gators showed real weakness on offense (against everyone but the Vols, that is ... ugh).  A lot of that weakness appeared to come from Meyer's belief in a system which doesn't meaningfully employ the running back.  In my opinion a team cannot sustain success without that.  What's more, he seemed to rely a little too much on Tebow, which further made the Gators one-dimensional on offense.

6.  Great Punkin' -- Tennessee

Phillip Fulmer has been the head coach of Tennessee Volunteers for 14 years.  He is the senior-most coach in the league and has an impressive record, including a BCS title, two SEC Championships, and has three additional SEC East titles.  Fulmer has been consistent, but over the past few years has probably been a bit too consistent in failing to reach the top level of the polls and BCS bowl games.

Though I think Phil Fulmer is one of the great coaches of college football, over the past few years the program has not seemed to be advancing as much as it has been holding position.  The addition of Dave Clawson as offensive coordinator along with a new scheme may, however, change that and result in Fulmer's stock rising once again.

7.(tieRich Brooks -- Kentucky

Rich Brooks has done a nice job at Kentucky over the last four years.  He wins more than he loses and appears to run a clean program.  Every now and then, he has managed to win a big game.  Kentucky is respectable, but really not much more than that.  Thus, it's hard for me to place him much higher.

7.(tieHouston Nutt -- Ole Miss

Were Houston Nutt still at Arkansas, he would probably rank higher.  He was consistent and recruited some stellar players while coaching the Hogs.  That said, he never seemed to be able to push the team to the championship level.  Now that he is at the helm of the Ole Miss Rebels, he has his work cut out for him.  If he can turn it around, then he will rise quickly in my eyes, but Oxford has not been very kind to coaches over the past decade.  The old adage that "there is nowhere to go but up," simply isn't true -- for Nutt and Ole Miss, "sideways" is a real possibility.

9.  Steve Spurrier -- South Carolina

A decade ago, "The Ole Ball Coach" would have been my hands-down choice for best coach in the country.  Whatever it is that he did while coaching the Washington Redskins, however, changed that.  While his Gamecocks have posted solid overall records since 2005, they have never had any meaningful success in the SEC.  That is not going to win you any coaching awards.

10.  Bobby Johnson -- Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is a tough place to coach and win.  I realize this.  Still, I think it is reasonable to expect a winning season every five years or so.

11.  Nick Saban -- Alabama

Slick Nicky has real coaching abilities -- there is no question about that (as the Vols learned last year).  That said, I give Saban this low rating largely on principle.  For what he is getting paid, a 7-6 (4-4 SEC) record isn't enough.

12.  Bobby Petrino -- Arkansas

Bad hire.  He is a mercenary coach who is only interested in where he can get the most money on a given day.  I give him four years -- max -- before he moves on to greener pastures leaving Arkansas with little to show for it.

The Rest of the BlogPoll

Now that you have wasted your time looking at my ballot, go check out what everybody else is saying over at Garnet and Black Attack.  I will also try to update this post with links to the other pollsters' ballots as soon as I can.

How long do you think it will be before they kick me out?

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


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