ATLANTA – This has to be far and away the worst season in the Tennessee Volunteer’s vaunted history. Who are these Tennessee Volunteers?
Tennessee takes their football very, very seriously. And rightly so! This is a team with the following records in NCAA Division I football:
Second all-time to Alabama in Bowl Appearances (48)
Fourth all-time in Bowl Wins (26)
A 771 – 319 all-time record (a .798 winning percentage)
The second largest stadium in the game (with a voracious student following)
And on homecoming day this past Saturday, they lost 13-7 to the lowly Wyoming Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference- a team with a losing record and ranked 111th in the nation in total offense. The Volunteers had never previously lost to a Mountain West team. It was also their 7th loss of the season, a total they have reached only once before in their history (1977). And they have never lost 8 in a season, which could very well happen before this year is out.
I agree with the University, it is the right time for Philip Fulmer to go. Even though his resignation announcement was clouded in controversy on-campus, his popularity in the orange nation has been in significant decline in recent years. He remains a true Tennessee man at heart, having played for the team in the 1970’s and having been on the coaching staff at the University since 1980. And he has the second best record among Volunteer football coaches in the team’s history, behind only Robert Neyland (for whom the team’s stadium is named). Nonetheless, it is clear this team needs a breath of fresh air.
What happened against Wyoming is evidence that this team is too young and that it has been defeated one too many times this year. They basically rolled over and died on the field last Saturday. They need to try and have a respectable finish against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but it is difficult to imagine that they can beat either of these two teams. We may be staring down a 9 loss season when this is over.
Maybe next year we can see a fresh start. Could it be with Butch Davis at the helm? Having a former University of Miami man in the lead may not sit well with a chunk of Volunteer nation- but the man is accomplished and has done an excellent job in his short tenure with the University of North Carolina.
We’ll see what happens- but one thing is for sure, whoever the new coach is- they will have immense pressure to deliver immediate results. This fan base is not one that will take another 7 to 9 loss season lightly.