I must honestly say, that I have never felt the way I do right now about the Tennessee Volunteer football program. I have never had a feeling of such desperation and hopelessness, while still feeling excited at the same time. I am not going to go into a big long discussion about all the things that are wrong with our team, but I must say there is one glaring problem that stands out....
I attended the third vols game of my young life yesterday, and that is where my feelings hit the forefront. I have never seen a Vols team that just seemed so lost and undisciplined, while at the same time seeming to have no sense of urgency to change their fortunes. As a result, I must honestly say that Fulmer leaving is definately the right move at this point. I do feel that he is one of those old time coaches who believes in a team first mentality and just has not been able to handle the change from team-first recruits to me first recruits. However, while Fulmer's coaching has definately lacked the adaptive ability to be effective, I always had viewed fulmer as being a very good recruiter and bringing in talent that Tennessee could work with. I guess my main point is that I always felt Fulmer could find the talent, but could no longer max out on that talent with his coaching ability.
After watching yesterday's game, I can honestly admit my opinon changed a bit. The ablity of our players was just embarassing. Wyoming's lines controlled both sides of the ball, and I am talking about a D-line that was the basis of a defense ranked 117th in the country heading into yesterday. Furthermore, the inability of Stephens and Crompton to make consistently accurate throws, the inability of our Oline to carry out their assignments, the inability of our receivers to be aware in time to catch the ball, the inability of our backs to run up the middle, and the lack of using our size at tight end to deliever the ball over the middle just blew my mind.
My major point is this....While it is obvious that Fulmer's coaching stlye no longer will result in the success that is expected at Tennessee, I had never fully realized that the talent we put on the field could not contend as well, no matter what coach you add to the mix. I honestly had no idea the amount of talent we lacked, and am disappointed to say that I was wrong in many arguments that I have had with friends and colleagues about the players we have brought in over the past few years. I
I love Phil for what he brought to our program and the peaks that he led us too, but I have never felt more frustrated and confident in saying we should have moved on without him five years ago. It is one thing with you have the talent and not the right coaching as the reason you are not succeeding, that can be changed quickly with the right coach. It is a completely different and more crippling scenerio when you have the wrong coaching and a depletion in the talent level at a college program, as it will take much longer to restore to get back to expectations.
I honestly thought we were in a position where we were like a ship that was just straying off course and needed a new captain. I am sad to say we look more like a ship that has completely sunk and needs to start building a new one as quick as possible.
With all this in mind, our administration must be great emphasis on hiring our next head coach. Do not target those you feel will just use our program as a way to get to the next step in two or three years. Target one who will show the commitment and passion toward getting the vols back to the level they need to be, and will work hard to maintain meeting the expected level of success for years to come.