Roundtablin' time. Many thanks to Ghost of Neyland at Third Saturday in October for getting the party started, to lawvol at Gate 21 for the shiny new graphic, and to the other Big Orange Roundtablers Your Mother Slept with Wilt Chamberlain, the World According to Moondog, UT Vols Football, Fulmer's Belly, Loser with Socks, and The Power T.
1.) How good/bad do you think Jonathan Crompton will be in his first year as a Tennessee starting quarterback and what makes you think that?
Crompton is going to be just fine. In 2006, after the SOWWDNS, there was simply no way that the coaches were going to risk another QB controversy, so Crompton wasn't really given a chance to compete. The Papa has played a first-year starter at QB only four times: 1994 (Jerry Colquitt/Peyton Manning), 1998 (Tee Martin), 2000 (Casey Clausen), and 2004 (Brent Schaeffer/Erik Ainge/Rick Clausen). Records for those seasons? 8-4, 13-0, 8-4, and 10-3, with a National and SEC Championship in 1998 and a trip to the SEC Championship Game in 2004.
2008 is looking a lot more like that 13-0 1998 season than the others because then, and now, our first year starter is an upper classman who's just been waiting his turn rather than a pimply-faced freshman soiling his shorts in the end zone. We have an experienced offensive line and running game to rely on. Crompton was also a more highly touted recruit than either Tee Martin or Erik Ainge. And from the looks of it at the spring game, Crompton's brewing chemistry with this team that we haven't seen since . . . well, since 1998.
Crompton will be fine.
2.) This question was posed on our site a few weeks ago by the Bama boys, and it brought some good discussion, so given UT’s rich history of scheduling home-and-homes with top-shelf BCS programs, what school would you most like for the Vols to play in the future and why?
I'd love to play Texas. UT v. UT. Big Orange v. Burnt Orange. Programs with storied histories, great but not brilliant coaches who are brilliant recruiters. What's not to like?
3.) A lot has been made of our lack of depth at defensive tackle. With Demonte Bolden, Dan Williams and Walter Fisher pretty solid, what other player do you think makes a big move toward becoming dependable?
Let me ask you this: why is William Brimfield listed as an offensive tackle? I had him ranked as No. 16 in the class of 2007, and it looks like he was a DT when recruited. Sure, he played offensive guard and linebacker in high school, but he really blossomed when they put him on the d-line. And okay, his 6'-5", 320 frame sure makes him sound like an offensive lineman, but don't we really need defensive tackles or, at the very least, some depth there? Is he too tall? All I know is what UTSports.com tells me: that he had 83 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and two pass-breakups as a high school senior in 2006. Now either he's a defensive tackle, or he's the greatest offensive lineman the world has ever seen.
4.) Neyland Stadium has undergone some wholesale external and internal renovations during the offseason, updating and improving the overall appearance. If you could change one thing about Neyland, what would it be?
One thing? I want to see the Pride of the Southland Marching Band play some version of Tradition. You know, like this:
Oh, and another thing. Look, the wave is past its prime, but it, like the woo! in Rocky Top is here to stay, and there's nothing we can do about it. Somebody's going to start it at the beginning of the third quarter without fail, and the rest of us will follow. Little orange lemmings we are. Since we can'prevent it, let's upgrade it.
Two words: dual wave. Instead of one wave, make it two. Don't wait for the thing to make its way all the way around Neyland, start another one when the first is halfway. Then we'd have ourselves a sea of orange. A blender-lookin' thing. A surf. A . . . um . . . okay, somebody else come up with a snappy name, but if we're gonna do the wave, let's do it with some style.
If the question police limit me to some structural upgrade, I'm going with the extra Jumbotron on the other side of the field. There's only one section of bad seats: the one in the end zone with your back to the 'Tron. That can be fixed. My neck can't.
5.) Different UT fans have different opinions on last season. Was it a success? Was it a failure? Why do you think so?
It was a success. We played for the SEC Championship. We represented the East, a division of a conference that includes Florida, Georgia, and Steve Spurrier. Are there better seasons than that? Of course, but I don't ever want to get to the point where having a chance to play in the SEC Championship Game is viewed as a failure. The last two national champions have not only come from our conference, but have dominated their opponent. Having a chance to play in the SECCG and only losing by a touchdown is a very good thing. It may not be fantastic, and it's certainly not perfection, but it most certainly is "success."