Tired of hearing various beat writers give their bland opinions of the state of the Tennessee program? Well, we are too. FeelsLike98 has surveyed various twitter followers, former radio show hosts, fl98 message board members, and one anonymous celebrity to get the pulse of the Tennessee fan base.
A big thanks to everyone who participated.
1 - What is your grade of Derek Dooley to this point and why?
@UT_QTE_kikidee - I would give him a D+, the reason it’s not a D- or an F is because I like him as a person, plus this season we’ve been reminded of how it feels to actually get excited about Vol football again, and even though short-lived, we were ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2008. I think he’s a great coach, I just don’t think he’s cut out to be a Head Coach in the SEC.
@ibleedorange - I'd give Dooley a C+. I consider myself a realist and understand how bad this program was when he took the job. Not many wanted the job. He is laying a new foundation for Tennessee. Undoubtedly better than when he arrived. Having not won a big game yet, really is his only knock.
Alex Anderson - I think it depends on what your scale is. Am I grading him on what is expected of a TN Head Coach? If so, I'd give him a D or F. A TN HC is graded on beating your rivals, conference championships and 10 win seasons. Dooley has not come close to any of that. If I am grading him on a curve, so to speak, where he is evaluated off what a coach with a losing record and little-to-no experience tossed into a difficult circumstance is capable of - I'd give him a B. He has been as about as good as we could have realistically hoped when he was hired.
Mckenzie Carroll - I would give him a C+. Every initial gameplan has been good (NCST especially), but once again Dooley's crunch time game management came into question against Florida. I've made it clear that I blame Bray more for that collapse than Dooley. You can argue that players' lack of mental toughness is a reflection on the coach, and at a certain point that argument has validity. Either way, he deserves a bad grade for the UF collapse, and it brings down what would otherwise be closer to a B+ on the season in my book.
Anonymous Celebrity - It's difficult to grade Dooley to this point in the season, simply because he's faced 3 very bad OOC opponents, and has been taken to the woodshed by the one opponent who had similar talent. And he's done it in the face of adversity, losing Rogers the week before the season kicked off. So on the season, I'd give him a C. On his career, he is a D. Yes, his talent has been lacking, but he's not won a single game that he should not have, and he's lost a couple in which he was either favored or had tremendous advantages. He is a questionable leader and his decision making is tenuous- at best. I have seen his ceiling compared to Mark Richt's, but I think his ceiling is that of Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. And his floor is that of Woody Widenhofer.
Mac Mckinnon - I would give Dooley a D to this point. The only thing I can really point to as a major positive re: Derek Dooley the football coach is his ability to identify under-the-radar prospects early in the recruiting season. I don't like either of the coordinators Dooley has us working with and I don't think he displays good leadership qualities, nor do I think he has a connection with his teams. His players don't respect him.
Carter Carroll - B. He took over what might be the most unique and challenging rebuilding job in the history of college football while playing and recruiting in the toughest conference in college football. While the numbers don't really show it, he's put out a better product each year that he's been here. Has he screwed up and shown some inadequacy at times? Sure. But Tennessee is relevant again, and that's something that it hasn't been in a long time.
RxSalt - D- and he only escapes the F because he has kept recruiting from completely bleeding out which, even though mediocre, is fairly impressive considering this: the man is 0-18 vs ranked teams and 0-12 vs our major rivals. There really isn't any way you can spin that. He's lost games he should have won and he's never been able to pull an upset. His teams play limp and quit as soon as the breaks don't go their way. At this point there seems to be a culture of losing that prevails over the entire program.
2 - Predicted finish to the season
@UT_QTE_kikidee - Optimistically :10-2; realistically, though, I think they will be 6-6. I know they could be 10-2, but they won’t because of their inconsistency in playing all 4 quarters of every game.
@ibleedorange - I hope they win them all, but I say 5-3 to finish the season. Losing to UGA, ALA, SC. Better bowl than the Music City...hopefully.
Alex Anderson - I think 7-5. I dont see us beating UGA, Bama or SCjr and we will probably split Mizzou and Miss St
Mckenzie Carroll - 8-4. Beat MSU and Mizzou
Anonymous Celebrity - 7-6 (down from 9-4 in the preseason.) We will lose to UGA, MSU, Bama, USCe, and against a pedestrian ACC team in Nashville. A loss to Mizzou would end with a 6-6 Tennessee team not playing in a Bowl Game. (In the preseason, I expected losses to UGA, Bama, USCe, and either UF or a loss to a good team in a CFA, Cotton, or Cap One Bowl.
Mac Mckinnon - 8-4 or 9-3 and that's a very optimistic answer. Lose to Georgia and Alabama. Probably drop one more somewhere. Wouldn't be surprised if we went down to Starkville and got embarrassed on ESPNU.
Carter Carroll - 9-4. Tennessee will take one, maybe two out of the next four and finish well.
RxSalt - Moving the goalposts for Dooley once more, this week could decide the rest of the year. If we win, we may be able to ride the momentum like a glorious eagle with wings of flame, as Wagner plays and we gnash the grapes of victory betwixt our teeth. More than likely, we will lose and ride that momentum like a lame shetland pony with alopecia, as the Carpenters play and we eat the four year old peanut brittle of sorrow. 7-5.
3 - How many wins would you need to justify keeping the coaching staff next year?
@UT_QTE_kikidee - N/A-I think after that loss to Florida, we at least need a new offensive coordinator next year. Cheney’s pass first/pass OFTEN preference just does not fit in the SEC.
@ibleedorange - Hard to say what number Hart has in mind. I think 7 buys them another year. It's an improvement from last year and miracles don't happen overnight.
Alex Anderson - If I was making the call 9. I think 8 probably gets him another year from Dave Hart though.
Mckenzie Carroll - Eight, and if we get them like I believe we would, it means you don't beat any of the four teams you measure yourself against (UF, UGA, Bama, SC). That's highly disappointing, given our expectations this offseason. However, those expectations came with the assumption that Bray can perform against a high level opponent. That remains to be seen and it might be that he just can't get it done; I can't blame Dooley for that. A win against a good MSU team is nice, and eight wins still shows significant improvement from last season. I can justify keeping him in that scenario, but at least one, probably two wins against that big four in 2013 would be an absolute must (especially with Oregon on the schedule).
Anonymous Celebrity - 8 would be the bare minimum, meaning he'd beat Missouri and Mississippi State. I just don't see any way he beats UGA, USCe, or Bama. But if he wins 8 and gets destroyed by those 3, or if he escapes against Troy, Kentucky, or Vandy, then I'd be okay with a change, provided the right candidate is available. His body of work instills absolutely no confidence that he'll ever become a consistent winner. Philip Fulmer had two losing seasons in his career at Tennessee and lost his job, in spite of winning the first legitimate National Championship at the school since 1951 and being consistently ranked in the Top 25 and almost always in the discussion for winning the SECE. Dooley has never won anywhere and is fighting Missouri and Vandy to be the 4th best team in the SECE.
Mac Mckinnon - I'll tell you this. I'm not happy with an 8-win season featuring a signature win of fucking Mizzou at home.
Carter Carroll - 8. The Vols need to beat at least one team that they're at least evenly matched up with, and to get to 8 wins, they'll have to do that.
RxSalt - 9. Anything less than 9 is a complete flame out.
4 - Biggest surprise on the team thus far? Biggest disappointment?
@UT_QTE_kikidee - Biggest surprise has been the NC State game, the entire team was on the same page for the whole game, and that has not happened in a while.
Biggest disappointment was losing our composure when one thing went wrong in the Florida game, and not being able to overcome it like a veteran team should.
@ibleedorange - By far the toughest question. Nothing about the team surprises me thus far. They are about where I thought they'd be. Biggest disappointment, has to be losing to Florida the way they did.
Alex Anderson - Biggest surprise is probably Byron Moore. He has played pretty well so far especially considering he couldn't start for our horrible secondary last year. Honorable mention for Zach Rogers. Biggest disappointment would be Curt Maggit. Thought he would be a menace rushing the passer. I'm sure the turf toe is a bigger deal than we realize though.
Mckenzie Carroll - The biggest surprise for me has been how well Dan McCullers played against Florida. He made several plays and held his own against a big, nasty UF line. He was instrumental in the goal line stand, and we're going to need that effort from him consistently over the SEC slate. The biggest disappointment is easily how badly Bray played in that second half against the Gators. He just melted. That old saying "either you own the moment or the moment owns you" is true, and Bray clearly allowed himself to get swallowed up by it. He locked onto receivers and quite simply played like a frustrated middle schooler out there. We can't beat any of the SEC's upper echelon teams if he continues to do this.
Anonymous Celebrity - I honestly cannot name a single player who has been a nice surprise. Apart from Patterson's debut, no one has done anything that was unexpected. For me, the biggest disappointment has been Tyler Bray. It sounds almost ridiculous to say, considering his numbers, but he just has not become the leader that this team needs, and him quitting against Florida is a troubling sign. He continues to pile up numbers against bad teams, but when NC State is your "biggest" win, you've done nothing noteworthy.
Mac Mckinnon - I honestly just went through our entire roster and couldn't find one player who I consider to be playing at pleasantly-surprising level. So no one. I would say the biggest disappointment has probably been our garbage-can defense.
Carter Carroll - Cordarrelle Patterson has been nothing short of marvelous. We all thought we were getting a delicious ribeye, and instead we got the porterhouse. Marlin Lane. After his performance in the spring game, he hasn't found a way to get on the field hardly at all.
RxSalt - Biggest surprise thus far I think has to be CP. Even though he was billed as the real thing coming in, that often is not the result. That he actually panned out and did so immediately is not at all in keeping with our recent history and is a really, really welcome surprise. Biggest disappointment has to be the D-Line. Like everything else, it has looked like a shut-in's litter box since NC ST.
5 - Do you think Tennessee is still a top 10 coaching job? Why or Why not?
@UT_QTE_kikidee - Yes, I do! It’s a program that’s steeped in tradition. Through the years, we’ve been a top team in the eastern division of the hands down absolute best conference in college football, the SEC, and of course Tennessee has the best (although somewhat critical at times) fans ever! We haven’t been down long enough to not still be a top 10 coaching job!
Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion!
@ibleedorange - Tennessee is definitely a top ten coaching job. Tradition, arguably the best facilities in the country, Neyland Stadium and the best fans in the country.
Alex Anderson - Yes, I do. Although I don't really rank coaching jobs 1, 2, 3 etc. I think it is more of a tiered system. Tier 1 jobs are jobs where you have the resources to win a National title with a good coach and I think we are a tier 1 job. For example, if TN had Nick Saban would we not be exactly like Alabama is now? Of course we would. If we had hired Urban Meyer instead of Florida would he not have won here? Of course he would. So why is it those are considered a better jobs?
Mckenzie Carroll - I think this is an interesting question because for UT's generation of younger fans, it's not something we were really forced to measure until Fulmer was fired. From the late 70's until 2008, our head coach was a Tennessee guy, and the job's stature didn't seem to matter because we had two coaches who would've taken it no matter what. I certainly believe it was a top ten job during our glory run in the 90's, but it has definitely lost some luster since then. I will say that I believe Florida, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame are all better jobs right now, so no.
Anonymous Celebrity - Yes, but barely. Regardless of the job Dooley has done, this is the largest venue in the premier conference in the country, with proximity to fertile recruiting territories in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Alabama and even places like Virginia and Louisiana. And while the state does not produce much 5 star talent, if Tennessee really could build a fence around the state, there are enough players in state to compete in the SEC if you can grab big recruits out of those states. The fact that Troy Calhoun and Derek Dooley were the most realistic candidates last time around, though, makes me unsure that the types of candidates we want to see actually view it that way.
Mac Mckinnon - Yes. We offer the total package. Money, facilities, tradition, exposure, stadium, fan support, etc. Our current head coach makes us look small-time but at the end of the day this program has the resources that very few others can offer.
Carter Carroll - No. Fulmer's complacency slowly bled the fan base and the product dry. Kiffin's tenure did nothing for it. The culture has to change before the desirability of the job does.
RxSalt - Absolutely. Facilities, stadium, fan base, tradition, conference, Vol Calls, etc., we have everything you need to be successful except a corch who is good at the footballs.