Everybody has heard the idiom “Patience is a virtue.” Certain situations require more patience than others, but in a world of instant gratification, patience is an attribute and a word that has been erased from society. Tennessee football fans have been told to remain patient for the better half of the last decade. Some can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to those fans I say “Kudos.”
I admit that I was one of the people who thought Phillip Fulmer’s time had passed, and I still do. However, the series of events that has occurred since his dismissal in 2008 has really placed this program in a very delicate position. While the fans believe this is a program that should be competing for SEC titles, the painful truth is that UT has not one an SEC title in 15 years.
Traditionally, Tennessee is one of the heavyweights of college football. But one has to ask…is UT nothing more than what Notre Dame and Nebraska have become over the last 10-20+ years? Once storied programs that compete at a high level every once in a while, but overall are just mediocre? While results may suggest that answer is yes, circumstances tell us a wildly different story.
Anyone who is at all familiar with Tennessee’s football program knows of the trials and tribulations it has gone through since Coach Fulmer’s dismissal. A one-and-done coach who used the Tennessee coaching position as a stepping stone to get to his “dream job”, complete depletion and attrition of top tier talent, a desperation hire of an unqualified coach, and his subsequent firing 3 years later have rocked Volnation to its core and crumbled its foundation.
In came Butch Jones and, while some fans had reasonable expectations of the program and its direction, many fans do not seem to be able to see the forest through the trees. I can’t necessarily blame them for that, however. For so long, Tennessee Football has been seemingly snake bit and neglected to the point where the fanbase has become skeptical of everything.
Although still noticeably less talented than other SEC teams on the field, many fans still look to coaching as being an issue. That’s where patience must take over. December 7, 2012 was less than one calendar year ago. That was the day Butch Jones was hired to become Tennessee’s head coach. His assistants have been in place even less time. They were fighting an uphill battle from the very beginning with talent and personnel issues.
The good news for the Vols is the coaches are absolutely hammering the recruiting trail and that crumbling foundation is being rebuilt “brick-by-brick” as Coach Jones would say. Tennessee currently sits at #2 in the recruiting rankings for 2014, only behind Alabama. With a good developer of men, by all accounts, at the helm, Tennessee Football has brighter days ahead of it. Patience Vol fans…patience.