The Tennessee Fanbase Finally Says No

At a press conference on November 12, after firing Head Coach Butch Jones, Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie made the following statement, “We will begin an exhaustive search for the person of the HIGHEST integrity and character, with the skills and vision to propel Tennessee to championships.”

This past Sunday, Currie tried to hire Greg Schiano the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay head coach and current defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Once word began to spread that Schiano would be the next head man at Tennessee, an outpouring of protests began on social media and on campus as Tennessee fans, former players, politicians, and local businesses almost 100% rejected that decision, causing Currie to back out of the memo of understanding with Schiano.

While many people in the media and the protesters focused on Schiano’s alleged role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, my first reaction to outright rejecting the idea of Schiano as the new Tennessee Head Coach had nothing to do with the scandal but rather because Schiano was never on my list of potential solid candidates to be head coach at Tennessee and I felt the athletic department could do much better.

Yes, Schiano did a wonderful job of turning Rutgers from a doormat to a competitor in the Big East Conference from 2001-2011, but his overall record in the conference was 28-48 and finished only one season (2006) ranked. The former Big East is no SEC when it comes to football. Add on to that the fact that Schiano is basically a more aggressive, defensive-minded Butch Jones known for bullying and rubbing his players the wrong way. That would not have flown here in Knoxville.

When rumors that Schiano would be the next head coach began to swirl, I told my friends and co-workers. Their response was mostly disappointment and annoyance. That initial reaction had nothing to do with the Sandusky Scandal (those details surfaced later), but it had everything to do with Schiano as lousy a choice and Tennessee AD Currie for making that lousy choice.

Another reason the national media has focused on is that Tennessee fans were going to reject everyone not named Jon Gruden becoming head coach at Tennessee. Honestly, I never believed Gruden was coming and, despite what many fan message boards would have you believe, most Tennessee fans did not believe that either. Honestly, just mentioning Jon Gruden in your article and the clicks will start pouring in. Again it is Schiano the fans did not want.

Yes, Tennessee is coming off its first ever 4-8 season and first ever winless season in the SEC, but the cupboard is not bare. There is still plenty of talent on Rocky Top plus the fanbase will get behind a coach they can believe in. There are still plenty of coaches out there who would have been a much better choice including, Mike Leach, Lane Kiffin, Kevin Sumlin, Bobby Petrino, Mike Norvell, Jeff Brohm plus many others who do not have the baggage or attitude Schiano would bring.

Would the fans be 100% behind any of these hires? Probably not, but there would not have been an absolute backlash like the one that happened on Sunday. Tennessee fans have become sick and tired of being stuck in mediocrity since Philip Fulmer was forced out at the end of the 2008 season. After bringing in Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, and Butch Jones, Vol Nation was not ready to accept another pretender head coach. Tennessee is a top 10 program all time in the history of college football and fans, administrators, former players, and even politicians should want a coach who can get us back to that level. Tennessee has the money and resources to get a coach like that. Remember, Alabama had been wallowing in mediocrity in the decade prior to Nick Saban arriving on campus.

Vol Nation became fed up with how things were going and made their voices heard and for once, the men in power listened to the people. Now AD John Currie has to bring in another coach to guide the Vols and the fans will be there in full voice when the 2018 season kicks off against West Virginia.

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Tennessee Volunteer’s 2017 Football Preview

This is my team, this is my school. Nothing gets my blood going for sports more than hearing Rocky Top, the Tennessee Waltz, or the immortal words, “It’s football time in Tennessee!”

Though as I preview and go through a season, I try to take off the orange tinted glasses and take a look at how the team will do and what are their true strengths and weaknesses.

OFFENSE

So much of Team 121’s success could ride of who will get the majority of snaps at quarterback. Both junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guaratano have been vying for the starting position, trying to replace the popular and dynamic Joshua Dobbs. What makes this quarterback competition interesting is how different Dormady and Guaratano are. Dormady has a bit more experience and a stronger arm, while Guaratano is more mobile. The zone-read scheme that Butch Jones brings is usually more effective with a mobile quarterback, however that QB has to be a good leader as well. I believe both guys will get plenty of snaps in the first few games but Dormady will start them. As the season progresses we will see who comes out on top.

At the skill positions, the Vols have some really good talent but not much game experience overall. John Kelly emerged as a solid runner after Jalen Hurd quit the team. Now with Alvin Kamara off to the NFL, the job is all Kelly’s. Hopefully top prospect Ty Chandler can spell Kelly for a few series a game.

At receiver you have some of the same story. Jauan Jennings is a top talent and made plenty of remarkable catches last season. However Josh Malone was the top receiver last year so now it is Jennings turn to step into that role. Jennings will have some help with experienced TE Ethan Wolf, we just need to see if Tyler Bryd and Marquez Callaway can contribute.

The offensive line has had 111 combined career starts, though consistency has been a major problem. Adding number one recruit Trey Smith into the mix should help.

DEFESNE

Last year, Bob Shoop’s defense was almost to Sal Sunseri levels of lousy by the end of the season. Yes the injury bug bit the Vols hard, but that does not make up for the excuses of poor tackling, bad alignments, and lack of true physicality.

On the defensive line, not only do the Vols have to replace all-time sack leader Derek Barnett, but the reliable Corey Vereen. Many see the defensive line as a real weakness this season, however I almost see it as a strength if things play out correctly. With the departure of Barnett I almost think the players on the line will now not look to him to always be there to make the play, so they will all have to step up and do that. Of course that will mean that Jonathan Kongbo, Kahlil McKenzie, and Shy Tuttle will have to live up to their potential.

At linebacker you have Darrin Kirkland Jr. who is injured again so we shall see when he can come back, plus Colton Jumper who has gotten plenty of vigor from the Vol faithful but has become a reliable linebacker.

In the secondary, again the potential is there with Todd Kelly Jr being the most reliable, but Nigel Warrior, Justin Martin, and Rashaan Gauldan will have to get more consistent. The addition of Louisville graduate transfer Shaq Wiggins will be key.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter Trevor Daniel just needs to keep doing awesome and that will be fine. Meanwhile, Aaron Medley needs to get better at long field goals in a hurry. Medley is 9 for 25 beyond 40 yards and 0 for 5 from 50 plus. If Evan Berry can stay healthy this season, the return game will be another big weapon for the Vols.

OVERVIEW

So many people just do not know what to think of the Tennessee Volunteers this season. The range of record guessing is between 9-3 to 5-7. So much really rides on how good Tennessee does at quarterback and on defense. If those are great the Vols will be just fine, if not, then Butch Jones may have to take his bricks elsewhere. As for me, the game against Florida in week 3 looms large. If Tennessee con go to the swamp and knock off the Gators at their place then something special might happen. Right now I see the Vols with another 9-4 season beating another middling Big Ten (or ACC team if it is the Belk Bowl) in a bowl game.

Enjoy the season everyone and GO VOLS!!!

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Shibley’s 2017 SEC Preview

Time to break down and rank my favorite conference team by team. A little different format this time as we go from last to first.

SEC East

#7 Missouri – The Tigers turned the corner at the end of the season as Drew Lock can really throw the football. The defense will be improved but still not good enough to get out of the basement of a very competitive (though average) division.

#6 Vanderbilt – Head Coach Derek Mason is keeping the Commodores competitive. As long as RB Ralph Webb keeps running at a high level the Commodores should be bowling again.

#5 South Carolina – In a contradiction to a standard Will Muschamp team, the Gamecocks should be great on offense with the emergence of Jake Bentley at quarterback. Meanwhile, the defense is a bit lacking in depth and speed.

#4 Kentucky – The Wildcats are sticking with Mark Stoops as coach and right now it seems to be paying off. The offense is great with talent at the skill positions. The big questions are again on defense. They need to get much better against the elite offenses in the conference.

#3 Tennessee – I will break down my beloved Vols a bit more in their own column, but for now there are just so many questions no one really knows what to think. Can Dormady or Guarantano sufficiently replace Joshua Dobbs at quarterback? Can the defense stop anybody? Talent alone will keep the Vols competitive, but they will need more to get to the top.

#2 Florida – Despite the fact that it seems like half the team is suspended for the opener against Michigan, the Gators are still going to make noise in the division. Most of the Muschamp recruited defense is in the NFL right now so head coach Jim McElwain will have to finally get the ball going on offense.

Champion: Georgia – Can the Bulldogs break through in year two under Kirby Smart? I think so. Jacob Eason has the potential to be a big star in this conference. Eason has two solid backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to carry some of the load. Plus, 10 starters return to a defense that ranked 16th nationally last season.

SEC West

#7 Ole Miss – When NCAA sanctions keep your team out of a bowl game, and your head coach was fired for making calls to hookers, it really does not matter how talented the team is, you just want to start playing games.

#6 Mississippi State – Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back after leading the SEC in total offense last season. He might have to carry the load for the Bulldogs again as the defense needs to get better in a hurry.

#5 Arkansas – The Razorbacks will be a carbon copy of last year, the offense will be strong with QB Austin Allen leading the way, but the defense will struggle to help out. Another middling year for Bret Bielema.

#4 Texas A&M – So much of this team’s success rides on how mentally tough they are. The  Aggies always seem to start strong and then fade come November. It is a tough schedule for the Aggies this season. They have the talent to be successful, but how strong will they be between the ear holes if things start to go sideways again.

#3 LSU – Much of the Tigers success this season will depend on two things, the coach and the quarterback. The interim tag is off Ed Orgeron and now he must produce. Quarterback play has been the bain of the Tigers for a while now. It has to get better or else teams will just stack the box again to try and stop RB Derrius Gucie.

#2 Auburn – It all looks good on paper for the Tigers. An exciting QB in Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham, plus 17 other starters returning from a Sugar Bowl team. Now Auburn has to go out and prove it.

Champion: Alabama – This is almost too easy. Alabama was a second away from winning the National Championship last year with a true freshman quarterback. Now Jalen Hurts has a year under his belt, plus a literal parade of Parade All-Americans behind him in the backfield, plus WR Calvin Ridley is still there to throw to. Head coach Nick Saban just reloads every season and this year is no different.

SEC CHAMPION: Alabama

Georgia may have the potential, but Alabama is proven. Think of this as well, Alabama does have a very tough opener against Florida State, but Nick Saban just crushes every quality team Alabama opens against. After the opener it is not until October 7 when the Tide travel to Texas A&M that they have what I consider an opponent that might be a threat. The Crimson Tide dominate the SEC once again and quite possibly win another National Championship.

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Hand Out

So I was running errands today and I was behind a car when I noticed something a little off with the car in front of me.

The brake lights and turn signals must have been broken because the driver was using their hand to signal which way they were turning and if they were stopping.

Luckily I flashed back to my bike riding days and remembered what they meant. However, I am sure most drivers in East Tennessee do not remember any of those signals and what was happening. After a quick Google search I found that many states still have instructions on hand signals in their drivers manuals so it appears that these signals are still legal in most states.

Just something else drivers should be paying attention to while behind the wheel instead of being on their phone or having their stupid dog in their lap.