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Vanderbilt 41 Tennessee 18 - Epilogue on an Epitaph

The Vols burned in Nashville, but had already crashed long before kickoff.

Frederick Breedon

This is the part where I'm supposed to write that tonight was the most embarrassing loss in decades. It probably was.

But in the grand scheme of things, if tonight was anything, it was simply a fitting end, the icing on the cake. The weight of everything that went wrong in the very terminal Derek Dooley Era seemed to combine to bury the Vols tonight. In Nashville. Against Vanderbilt.

We could spend time talking about how a coach who won't go for it at the end of regulation against Missouri with the best offense in school history (which it won't be after tonight) because it's too risky will then fake a punt on 4th and 9 at his own 19.

But there's a reason this guy won't be coaching here much longer, and that decision was made before tonight.

It's the first win for the Dores over the Vols since 2005, the second win and the first in Nashville since 1982. But for the big picture, tonight really didn't change anything for Tennessee. Dooley was already done, tonight simply the closing argument before an already unanimous jury, unless we find a way to do something even more embarrassing against a much worse Kentucky team in Knoxville next week. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

It's not so much that the bamboo was a lie - I think this team had the talent to win nine or ten games in the hands of a capable coaching staff. But ours is absolutely not, and even the nice things you try to say in situations like this - Dooley's team fought hard, we caught a lot of bad breaks - were not true tonight.

For me and I think for many of us, we were long past denial, anger, bargaining, or depression before toe met leather tonight. We'd already reached acceptance long before tonight. Dooley is gone, this season is lost, and now only the future matters.

And this is not to say that Vanderbilt can't or won't enjoy tonight - they certainly don't need my permission to do so. Congrats to them. Enjoy it.

The next hire Tennessee makes absolutely has to be a home run. That's never been more true than right now.

And right now, the next hire is all that matters for Tennessee Football.