Posted: 8:00 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013
By Brad Shepard
There are literally dozens of indictments of Derek Dooley. [Do we have all day to list them????]
To me, the biggest by far, however is the fact that in his three forgettable seasons as Tennessee's head football coach, he lost once to Kentucky and once to Vanderbilt. That is inexplicable and simply unacceptable.
Of the several lows of the past decade of equally forgettable Tennessee football -- from the unfathomable setback to Wyoming to the multiple demoralizations by Alabama -- without question, the lowest for me was last year's 41-18 loss at Vanderbilt. Yes, it was even lower than seeing a converted wide receiver-turned-quarterback beat Tennessee 10-7 two years ago for Kentucky, keeping the Vols out of a bowl game. Watching a mediocre Commodores team and its smug coach James Franklin celebrate on the field afterward ... well, I don't know how it felt, to be honest. Because I didn't watch it. I turned it off. I'm sure I wasn't alone in the Big Orange masses.
That was -- that IS -- unacceptable to me. It should not happen. Ever.
Beating Vanderbilt and Kentucky is just something UT does and has always done. Tennessee has won 29 of its past 31 games against the Wildcats dating back to 1984 by an average score of 33-15. The Vols also have beaten Vanderbilt 28 of the past 30 games dating back to 1983 by an average score of 32-14. That's pretty much a domination.
No matter how things have gone throughout the season, historically, when late November rolls around, the Vols expect to close out the season with a pair of easy victories. With Franklin and now Mark Stoops aboard in Kentucky, those games are not going to be gimmes, but as a general rule, the Commodores and Wildcats simply don't expect to beat the Vols ... because, quite frankly, nobody in this generation has witnessed it.
There have been several close games against those two "rivals" -- too many recently -- but it's fun hearkening back to the ol' skull-dragging days when the Vols put up PlayStation numbers against those teams. I believe days like that are coming back soon, and I just sincerely hope Franklin is on the sideline to experience it rather than bolting Vanderbilt for a better job sooner rather than later.
Some folks out there may think that Vanderbilt has surpassed Tennessee. L O L, I say. One year [especially against Dooley, Tyler Bray and Sal Sunseri] doesn't make you the state's Top Dog. If the camel's back wasn't broken before that game, Dooley could have just packed his stuff up after that game because he was never going to be let back on the sideline. Sure enough, Jim Chaney coached the team against Kentucky [a season-closing victory] after Dooley got the boot.
The frustrating thing about this is the Vols never should be in a position where they measure themselves against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Every single UT fan out there will tell you right now that they're penciling wins over those two teams this season, regardless of depth chart or talent. Why? Because they're Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and we're Tennessee.
Even elite players on those teams struggled to beat the Vols. Jay Cutler actually got us once -- in The Season That Was The Beginning Of The End for Coach Phillip Fulmer in 2005. Tim Couch never beat Tennessee. Why? Because Kentucky and Vanderbilt just don't beat Tennessee.
Ownership. That's the perfect word to describe the Volunteers' rivalry against these two teams.
The honeymoon with Butch Jones is in full effect. We're all in love with his recruiting, with his passion, with the direction of the football program and how the future looks. But let him lose to one of these two teams and just see how sour the mood turns quickly.
It is what it is. Losing to these teams is unacceptable. It will always be this way.