Walk, Don't Run: Be Patient

Walk, Don't Run.

We have heard it a thousand times when we were younger. "You gotta crawl before you walk, walk before you run." Some Tennessee fans were hoping to skip the whole walk portion. We knew it was going to be hard. We said as much.

In November of 2008 MeytonPanning summed it up very well "What now?"

He also pointed out that several other schools whom were once powerhouses that underwent likewise coaching changes have struggled for several seasons.

It's funny how we use that word seasons, isn't it? As if it were easier to stomach it's use instead of saying what it actually represents: years. Lets Break it down a little more. Joel was good enough to keep a list of the recruits that Fulmer had on the books to come to us during that year. In 2008, immediately following the firing of Fulmer this was their status per that list.

It's now 2011.

Want to take some guesses as to how many of them we still have? Take a long look.

  • Nigel Mitchell-Thornton
  • Zach Rogers 
  • JerQuari Schofield
  • Marlon Walls 


Crawl before you walk. By no means this is a all inclusive list , but its a good sample of what kind of decimation we got hit with. Lets not stop there, however since some folks clearly need a reminder.

Now comes He Who Shall Not Be Named aka The Weasel.

Hooper did the best write up at the time I think, and he had some things to say that were hard to swallow by some then, and probably just as hard now. Such as:

  •  Heading into the 2007-2008 offseason, the Volunteers had a big problem. The team was getting passed up by the reinvented teams in the league (especially the two big rivals, Florida and Alabama). Rivalry wins were getting scarce, and because the program was plodding along in the same direction it had been going for nearly 20 years, there was little sense of Tennessee adapting to the new landscape. 
  • Today, we point to a lack of respect for the NCAA and for Tennessee tradition as reasons to not want Kiffin around anymore. A week ago today, we pointed to his aggressiveness and willingness to challenge the rules as simply doing everything he could to win. And we saw his willingness to change things as not allowing tradition to keep UT from developing into its full potential. There are pros and cons to both sides of those issues. We chose to ignore the bad before, and it's easy to ignore the good now.


In some ways, that's what we are doing currently with Dooley. We are choosing to ignore the good for the bad.

As for the then Recruits?

We expected to have

(I excluded those who committed after Dooley signed up such as Marteze Jackson)

In 2011 of that list we have


  • Tyler Bray (Injured)
  • Matt Simms
  • Channing Fugate
  • Jacques Smith
  • Corey Miller
  • Ju'Wann James
  • Michael Palardy

Decimated. Crawl before you walk. Granted we did not lose all of these players simply because of coaching changes, and we didn't. Some couldn't cut it. Some had other issues like Jackson. But between two coaches, we already had our cupboard stripped almost 60% of our recruiting, and in the SEC that's oblivion levels.

Toss in the investigations, the multiple program firings, and you create a perfect storm. In July of 2010 Will put a article on his expectations back in 2010, and now all you have to do is beat your old friends Vandy and Kentucky, and you're bowling. But lose, and what do you have left to play for? If the Vols do struggle to a 3-6 start, giving everything that these players have been through...will they have enough left in the tank to finish strong? No matter how bad the start, Tennessee could still reasonably finish the year with four straight wins and a bowl game...which would be big momentum for the future. Or it could all fall apart, and we end with the worst year in school history (eight losses).

It's just as applicable now as it was then. But Will's August 16, 2010 Article was the kicker.

On our third coach in three years, we're using a new definition for what "good things" are this year. As such, Dooley becomes the person most closely associated with our ability to achieve those good things this year; fair or no, our shiny new head coach will either take the blame or get the credit for whatever we end up with in December (or if we're being really hopeful, January). He doesn't have to win anything big this year. And if three years continues to be the probationary period for new head coaches, he doesn't have to get to Atlanta by 2012 either. He just needs to make us believe that it's really possible. From a talent, depth, and competitiveness standpoint, is 2010 going to be as bad as it gets for us? The answer to that question needs to be yes. Even with a murderous 2011 schedule that may not make a better record reasonable, the Vols can make improvements. The biggest question marks right now - quarterback, offensive line, Justin Wilcox - can become real strengths in one year. What we need to see is progression: if we're hovering around .500 this year, then let's think about seven or eight wins next year, and then let's get back to business as usual by 2012. I think every UT fan would understand that timeline. And if we're good enough to accelerate it...well, that'll be just fine too.

At some point, somewhere, our expectations changed. Maybe not the fans and faculty of Rocky Top Talk so much as the fan base over all. The reason?

Dooley gave us cause to believe!

With him at the helm and what we saw from our recruits and our team we thought we could conquer the world! And before you know it we were off and running....without having walked.

Parents everywhere can tell you what happens in that combination, and it is precisely what happened with our Volunteers this year: we fell flat on our faces.

We got beat by Georgia on our home turf and it hurt like hell. The number one team in the country, who no one has beaten yet came in to our house and whupped us good. We had hopes, we had dreams and we had the wind literally ripped out of our sails. We will probably lose this Saturday to Alabama. I will still root for our boys, and hold out hope for a miracle victory.

Our program eroded. Our program has been beaten, and the one guy who is trying to bring it back to life, when everyone else turned Mike Hamilton away and said "Forget it, thats too hard a job to bring Tennessee back to life" is under fire for all of the wrong reasons.

We have to crawl before we walk.

Injuries are a part of football, and depth is there to handle injuries. Unfortunately we don't have that depth yet. It will be another year, hell maybe two.

Be Patient.

And When we finally get to that point we need to remember:

Walk, don't run.

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