Friday, December 30, 2011

Death, Taxes and Tennessee Football

I always respected the Tennessee Football program.  They have big stadium, passionate fans and Payton Manning.  I didn't enjoy when they whined about losing the Heisman Trophy to Charles Woodson or when laid down in 1997 to Nebraska so Michigan had to share the National Championship but maybe that is just my problem.

They were a solid football team in the 90's and early 2000's and had some great games against Florida.  Then in 2009 they decided to fire their long term legendary coach Phil Fulmer after going 5-7.   They hire Lane Kiffin who was there for a cup of coffee and about 20 NCAA minor violations.   Lane skips town and takes the next flight to the West Coast and the Tennessee Athletic Department scrambles to hire someone and they only person they find available is Derek Dooley, the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley.

On a side note, Tennessee Basketball is now a tire fire (6-6) with their former coach lying to the NCAA and then getting embarrassed by the Wolverines in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and then gets fired right after that loss. 

Back to the Football Program.  Derek is trying to rebuild his program in the very competitive SEC.  So how's that been going?

2009: 7-6 (Kiffin)
2010: 6-7
2011: 5-7

Dooley hasn't had a winning season yet.  To be fair, those that live in glass houses with RR shouldn't throw stones.  .

Great, Bob what is the point of this post then?  

The point is recruiting.  Every good coach knows they are only as good as the athletes they put on the field.  Tom Brady makes Bill Belichick look like the best NFL coach ever.   Recruiting is the life line for any major college football program.  Tennessee has been doing decently in recruiting and has even ringed in a couple State of Michigan recruits.  Last year they pulled in 4 star WR DeAnthony Arnett and this year they have pulled in 4 star DT Danny O'Brien. 

DeAnthony played as a freshman at UT and had 24 catches for 242 yards and 2 TD's.   Not bad for a true freshman.  A couple things have happened since the season ended.  DeAnthony's father has gotten seriously ill and UT's WR coach retired.  Those two events have DeAnthony's rethinking being in Knoxville and wants to be closer to home as his father illness doesn't seem to be getting better.  

Arnett asked for his release from UT on Wednesday, so he could be closer to his family in Michigan.  The NCAA has been known to grant in similar situations a "hardship waiver" that could allow him to transfer to a D1 school with out sitting out a year due to his family illness.

As Michigan fans, we know about transfers.   Ryan Mallett, Sam McGuffie, Justin Boren, JT Turner and the list goes on.  As we know to well,  Boren even transferred to Michigan's biggest rival.   Michigan released those guys without any conditions, because that is the right thing to do for the kid.   Even when it was clear the former Michigan coaching staff was "poaching" Michigan kids to Pitt.  (that practice is illegal via the NCAA so that is purely speculation on my part, but there was plenty of smoke).  Now those coaches are at Arizona and those kids are still at Pitt.  There is also a Big Ten rule that you can't transfer within the conference and still be on scholarship.  This is a good rule because you don't want kids taking their playbook from one school and taking it to another conference school.

Yesterday, Derek Dooley and The University of Tennessee Football program released DeAnthony from his LOI and scholarship BUT he put conditions on the release that he could not attend U of M or MSU.   Tennessee public relations director Jimmy Stanton said on Thursday that Arnett was being released and can continuing playing division one football closer to his family but that Dooley is continuing to hold to his policy of not releasing players to schools that Tennessee competes with on the field and off the field in recruiting.

I would have no problem with this policy if Michigan or MSU was on their schedule in the next 2-3 years.  They are not.  Which leads me to the other part of the statement: off the field in recruiting.  Who doesn't UT recruit against?  You could make that statement against any BCS school in the country.    This is the biggest BS decision I have seen in awhile.  Dooley is acting like a kindergartner that just lost his Popsicle.  I know losing kids hurts your program and I know you want guys that are 100% committed to UT Football but you are making a huge "bush league" mistake here.

Let me explain, the football community is a very tight group.  High school coaches and other D1 coaches have long memories.    Coaches will use this against Dooley every time a school is in a battle with UT for a kid.  High school coaches will now consider this policy when one of their kids ask them if they should go to UT or not.   Dooley, you have made a terrible decision here and you better right the ship or you will go down with it.    Forcing a kid to not attend a BCS close to home is just a childish  decision.  Arnett choices are now Central, Western or Eastern Michigan. 

Some may ask why would he do this?  Your guess is as good as mine.   

My guesses include:

  •  Michigan 75 Tennessee 45, March 18, 2011
  • 2012 4 Star OT Recruit from Nashville, Tennessee Blake Bars  
  • They still couldn't be holding a grudge from the 1997 Heisman Trophy, could they?
Way to take it out on a 19 year old kid, Dooley.    

Edit: Brian at Mgblog's post today says, Dooley has a history of making life difficult for kids that want to leave his program.   How this guy ever gets another kid to commit to Tennessee is beyond me. 

Arnett emailed out a statement:
Coach Dooley, myself or anybody doesn't know what the future holds for my Father and I feel that I represented the University of Tennessee the best way I can on and Off the field and I feel I have earned the right to be released unconditional to all schools in Michigan. Especially with The University of Tennessee not scheduling any program from the state of Michigan on their current or future schedules. Coach Dooley has singled two programs that I cant get a unconditional release to and that's the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. He told me I can attend any Mac school that I want and if I wanted to attend The University of Michigan and Michigan State University then I would have to pay for school instead of be on the scholarship. I dont know whats next my family cant afford to pay for school and my father health reason isn't good enough excuse for me to attend a BCS school close to home. (According to coach Dooley). Therefore as a student athlete i feel coach Dooley is trying to hinder my success by not allowing me to compete at a bcs level! And he's neglecting the fact that my father is severely ill.


Voice of Reason said...

The article and Arnett's email was very well stated. I hope he can appeal to the NCAA.

Bob said...

I hope so as well

Chris said...

What an a$$-hat!

uncle ron said...

He's just a typical Dooley!!!!!!!!

A.R. Truth said...

While I do appreciate your long post and twangy commentary, it is important to note that this entire artical was never relevant considering it was all a misunderstanding and Arnett's on his way to M.State