As a daughter of the South, I’ve grown up learning to love SEC football and the entire culture surrounding it. From time to time, part of this culture involves raising cane when your team is having a poor season.
Tennessee Vols fans have turned this into an art form.
Three seasons of subpar football have left the natives in Knoxville restless and with an urge to put head coach Derek Dooley’s head on a platter as they fire him from his post.
Now I’m no doctor, but it seems as if the fans and even the players of Tennessee have gotten a case of what I like to call “entitle-itis.”
It’s a crippling disease, triggered by an overdose of Peyton Manning and a national title back in 1998 under then-head coach Phillip Fulmer. The combination of these things with that gaudy orange and the playing of “Rocky Top” one time too many has set a precedent that quite frankly, shouldn’t be thereat all.
Entitle-itis also causes great memory loss. The fact that the Vols improved their team GPA from a 2.08 to a 2.71 from last fall to this spring becomes irrelevant. Remembering that the defense is changing from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 becomes difficult, let alone remembering the academic, behavioral, and recruitment mess that Derek Dooley inherited after the exits of Fulmer and Lane Kiffin.
But, as with any disease, people have to want to take proactive steps to find a cure. The fans in Knoxville would rather slap another band-aid on their problem by bringing in their fourth coach in six years rather than suffer the growing pains that come with rebuilding a program.
Despite Dooley’s efforts to raise GPAs so that players can have a life beyond college football, or publicly reprimanding players like Tyler Bray who have put themselves before the team, the only thing Tennessee fans care about is the number in the win column.
Apparently, lower crime figures and higher graduation rates have no place on the checkerboard.
If I were in Tennessee’s senior administration, I would be defending Dooley. Because if I let him go, no coach in his right mind would want to come into Knoxville and work as hard as he has to change the culture for the better.
But, since I’m not, I’m going to encourage UT to shoot themselves in the foot and let Dooley go. If they don’t appreciate a coach who is willing to spend the time and energy to build standards for the team and clean up the mess in Knoxville, they don’t deserve to have one.
It’s not anything a band-aid can’t fix, right?
In the meantime, I’ll be proud that Mark Richt and the rest of us in Dawg Nation survived last season, because watching the tenth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs this year has been rather enjoyable.
I guess it’s proof that the right dosage of humility does an SEC fan good every now and then, just as long as you’re just willing to take it.
Sports editor Katie Greene is a junior mass communications major.