15 years ago when I was @ UT. Ouch! I have trouble finishing that sentence. Let me begin again.
A few years ago when I was attending UT, I was 15 years younger than I am today. Ugggh. Let me try again.
When I was a college student at UT. (perfect). When I was a college student at UT, all I cared about was winning football games. Hmmm.. not true.
When I was a college student at UT, I had several interests. But when it came to football, my number one concern was that we won. When we didn't win at least 9 games in a year, I was furious. When we didn't get invited to a New Year's or later bowl game, again, furious. We had failed as a school and as a team. We should have done better. Four years without beating Florida? Inexcusable! Fortunately for me, I was on the Van Wilder plan so I was around long enough to see Tennessee beat Florida (1992- in the rain- at Neyland Stadium- Heath Shuler picked 'em apart! What an incredible game!)
Now- I'm older and arguably a little more mature. We have been criticized as Tennessee fans (and a college) for being upset that our .........former coach left after 14 months to take a job elsewhere.
I would like to explain my behavior over the last 14 months and the last 72 hours.
Last 14 months: Tennessee hired him (like Jonny Majors when he left tennessee, I won't say his name) and assumed risk when it did so. No matter how strange it felt to hire a 33 year old hot shot as a head coach, we gave him our loyalty and defended him when he broke the rules and did stupid things. We have become accustomed to having a coach for a few years (like 16 or 17 years each coach). I think what's happened with him is that we, who gave him our loyalty and defended his poor decisions, expected him to mature and our investment in him would pay off... over time. It was an investment. We knew, deep down where we didn't talk about at parties, that we wouldn't get the rate of return at first, but it would come over time.
Last 72 hours: someone stole our money and emptied out our 401K. We invested in him; he walked away.
The question remains, "What do we do now?" We start over and don't make the same mistake again. Invest in safer stock. Why? Because when I give my complete loyalty to Tennessee Football- that's a reflection of me. When I tell my kids that Tennessee Football is awesome, i don't want them to look at the news and see the poor decisions that the coaches or players are making. I want them to see morality, and upright citizens. Otherwise, I am telling my kids that Its ok to win by doing whatever it is that team is doing. I want a coah that I can be proud of. Not one whose actions I overlook when they get great results.
I live in Oregon. Mike Riley of the Oregon State University shows some of the characteristics that I want in a coach. He came back to OSU and said he is dedicated to coaching this team. He was offered the USC job and turned it down so he could stay in Corvallis, Oregon and raise his kids here.
Now- I am finally able to say. I'm glad he's gone. I hope we hire a stable, level-headed, morale leader for the kids he will recruit, coach, and lead. If we don't win an SEC Championship for the next 10 years, it will be ok. I'll still enjoy watching the football team play and screaming at the TV. As long as we have a coach I can be proud of.