Since Coach Lane Kiffen has been selected to lead by Vols, all you hear, or mostly from ESPN, Chris Low among other noted sports gurus is how he and others among his staff have losing records. "He has yet to coach a game in the SEC, and has been doing a lot of talking."
Well, why am I confident that the VOLs will surprise everyone with a 9-3 or even a 10-2 record this season. History is my basis for this feeling, not only football history either but military history. I will use military history as my anology.
Most Vols know of Civil War general Robert E. Lee and his successes as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia June 1862 until the end of the war (even in defeat, Lee held his head high in April 1865).
But did you know that there was great doubt among the rank and file, and many in the Confederate government when Lee was appointed to lead the Army of Northern Virginia? Why?
Prior to this time, despite all the hype Lee had received before and at the start of the war for being a "five star player," he had failed to live up to that. But in that 14 months prior to that in the role of commander of the Atlantic Coast and as military advisor to Jefferson Davis, Lee had made many errors but learned a lot. He had orchestrated and failed while leading a campaign in late 1861 to take what is now north eastern W. Virginia. As soon as he took over the Army of Northern Virginia, he ordered them to entrench or fortify everywhere, thus the nick name "spades" or "granny" Lee from Soldiers who did not take positively to such labor. But this action would allowed Lee to orchestrate and mass his forces while using a few to hold a lot of ground opposite a stronger enemy. After June 1862, Lee went on to become one of the storied generals in our history.
We also know the story of U.S. Grant prior to his victory of taking Fort Donelson Tennessee in February 1862. He was considered a dunkered, a loser, he was a clerk in his father's leather tanning business in Cairo ILL in April 1861, when he decided to ask for his commission back. Even after his capture of Fort Donelson TN in February of 1862, the only victory for the North to the point, his superior General Henry Halleck tried to arrest him because he thought he was drunk on duty. But he failed to convict him. Grant offered to resign after the battle of Shiloh in April 1862 because Halleck made him worthless second of command of all armies (no job or like vice president). But his friend William T Sherman talkedhim out of it because he had potential. The rest is history.
We also hear and know of General George S. Patton, and his victories in World War II. But in 1938, Patton was considered to old and wash out, too radical; and he had actually looked at places for him and his wife to retire, before the emergency of World War II sought his talents. His articles in military journals were considered extreme, but they proved him right when the time came for the test of World War II.
We can refer to football as well. What was Pete Carroll's (mentor to a coach now we know well) record prior to taking over at USC? I heard Pete Carroll speak, and I met him to talk on two occasions in the three days I was at the same conference, no arrogance, and great leader. WOW. And by the way, he spoke highly of not only our new head coach, but of his assistants.
To really determine what a coach is worth, look at what the Army calls "command evironment" he sets. Kiffin, said no to senority (by the way prior to World War II, this is the antiquated system the U.S. Army used, and by the way in 1941, George C. Marshall had to relieve 500 colonels and generals who were senior but no talent), but yes to the best player plays. Look at what it has done in spring and fall camps.
No off-field incidents since he took over. That speaks for itself. What kind of "command climate"?
How many quite because they could not compete? That is another aspect.
Kiffen showed up at classes to make sure players went to class. WOW, what a concept, "scholar-athlete!" Oh, by the way, highest GPA since how many years?
Good leaders surround themselves with good people. WOW! Kiffin put his money in his staff of not only great coaches, but good recruiters.
Good leaders are not threatened by their subordinates. WOW, how many times has Kiffin credited others, be it coaches and players? A lot.
I believe, that Coach Kiffin learned how to set the environment under Pete Carroll, as well as coach from Pete and his Father, but learned how to run a program under the dismal environment at Oakland (when an organization goes after someone long after they leave as Oakland has, that tells its own story, about the losing organization).
When I saw the starting roster, WOW, I am confident.
Another, and late item. Everyone says we are getting no respect from many prominent venues because they don't like the VOLS. Well THAT IS GOOD! I know Coach Kiffen and his coaches are playing that up. I think the VOLS have enough talent to compete, even with Florida, if coached right. And we have great coaches that are hungry. And all the non-respect is playing into their hands.
I predict a 9-3, but not impossible 10-3 on a running, play action offensive with a supper torn over porn defensive, and a coach who plays to win, not lose. By the way, the loses will be close.