Adams: It's a lost season vs. biggest rivals

Tennessee fans who made an early departure from Neyland Stadium on Saturday night probably didn't believe what they heard on their car radios. Midway through the fourth quarter, UT actually scored a touchdown on second-ranked Alabama.

The touchdown was witnessed by a decidedly pro-Alabama crowd and two UT fans who were pictured on television wearing paper bags over their heads.

Relevant question: Who were the bag-heads?

Possible answers: Influential boosters who have seen enough of the Phillip Fulmer Era at UT; members of the UT defense who had seen enough of the UT offense; or a couple of guys who couldn't wait for Halloween.

You couldn't blame UT fans for going incognito. Alabama's 29-9 victory marked its second consecutive convincing victory over its longtime rival. And in UT's 3-5 season, the one-sided defeat was hardly an aberration.

UT just went 0-3 against its three biggest rivals - Florida, Georgia and Alabama - by an 85-29 count. In the last two years, the Vols are 1-5 against those teams; the average margin of defeat has been 23.8 points.

How much more evidence do athletic director Mike Hamilton and the UT power brokers need to make a coaching change?

It's not just UT's loss to Alabama, the 3-5 record overall or the failure against its rivals this season. Look to the future. Is there any reason to believe UT will gain ground on Florida, Georgia or Alabama - all of whom are blessed with more young talent - next season?

The Vols might be "working like heck" but their rivals are building better programs. What coach Nick Saban has done in two seasons at Alabama must be as alarming to UT fans as what Urban Meyer has done at Florida.

On the same night that UT honored its 1998 national championship team, Alabama improved its record to 8-0 and stayed in the running for a national title of its own. And that's after only two years under Saban, one of the best recruiters in college football.

Saban already has enough talent to post 20-point victories over UT in methodical, workman-like fashion. Never mind that the Tide was neither as dominant nor as dazzling as it was in the first halves of several previous victories. Even when UT was holding its own against Alabama for a quarter and a half, did you ever get a whiff of an upset?

At its best, UT's offense is mediocre. At its worse - as it has been for much of the games against Florida, Georgia and Alabama - it has been worthy of a paper bag without the eye holes.

UT managed 36 yards rushing against the Tide. That's 35 more yards than it got against Georgia and 60 fewer than it produced against Florida. The three-game average is a stunning 44.3 yards.

Peyton Manning couldn't have overcome that. So what was first-year starter Nick Stephens supposed to do? Throw and hope?

It could have been worse. At least UT's fragile offense didn't have to deal with Alabama's 365-pound nose guard Terrence Cody, who sat out the game with a knee injury.

"Mt. Cody" wasn't missed against the Vols. Against them, everybody is a run stopper.

That's merely the most glaring of UT's shortcomings. The Vols just aren't competitive against the best teams in the SEC.

And there's nothing they can do in the last four games to change that.

Maybe they can beat South Carolina, Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky and have a winning season. Maybe a bowl - in Shreveport or Tennessee - might even extend them an invitation.

But you can bet your paper bag, it will take more than that to convince UT fans their program is headed in the right direction.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 125

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

FedUpVolFan writes:

2ND!

indianacurly writes:

ns? lygdfao? when's this dream gonna end pal?

jack_2222#231746 writes:

When the offense lines up legally, it is following a proud Tennessee tradition.

trace5254 writes:

Memo to the future coach - - with home town sports editors like this you don't need to make any more enemies! Thanks for Cecil Hurt - he is no homer but he didn't try to destroy the program in the down times.

Sheepscape writes:

Just because you don't like what Adams is writing doesn't make it untrue. He is dead on, its time to face facts.

indianacurly writes:

'john adams is such a <honest> pierce!'

indianacurly writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

indianacurly writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

tenuscvol writes:

And those three teams have been rand #1, #2 and #4 in the country at some time this season...

John: Did you pick UT to win this game?

Lighten up....

HotlantaVol writes:

Too much more of this and I will have to change to a plastic bag without holes.

Oenoboy writes:

I've never been a big Adams fan but he speaks the truth. Him speaking the truth will not destroy this program. Hamilton and the boosters ignoring the truth will.

Truth is, Fulmer is arguably the best coach Tennessee has had since Neyland. Truth is, his time is done. Opposing coaches are so far ahead of him in their schemes, strategies, and player preparedness it has become painful to watch. It has become apparent that without Cutcliff, Fulmer is not the complete package.

It's been a good ride but the time has come for a regime change. Let's hope the powers that be get it right.

FedUpVolFan writes:

WHERE IS WELOVEVOLS????????

indianacurly writes:

wltv is giving phil a hug somewhere ...

twopekes writes:

Alas, I am throwing in the towel. After many, many years of crying wolf Mr. Adams is right. Just goes to show kids write drivvel long enough and it is gonna come true. Sir, your horse has come in.

DogAndPonyShow writes:

I don't know why you people think Mike Hamilton even cares about who is coaching the Vols - the same 106,000 Vol happy nuts fill Neyland Stadium week after week regardless of what dog and pony show team takes the field.

In Rocky Top you sell the same number of hot dogs, cokes and season tickets regardless of wins and losses, so why bother with a coaching change?

Want a new head coach on the sidelines? Stop whining under anonymous KNS thread posts about "how bad things are" and start spending your Saturdays at home watching the games on TV. Stop throwing every spare nickel and dime you have on all things Tennessee and you will be amazed at how quickly a coaching change can occur.

Until you can do that (which you know you can't), best enjoy the next ten years of Fulmer-ball.

mattnchatt writes:

The truth hurts and we are hurtin.

newtonrail writes:

in response to DogAndPonyShow:

I don't know why you people think Mike Hamilton even cares about who is coaching the Vols - the same 106,000 Vol happy nuts fill Neyland Stadium week after week regardless of what dog and pony show team takes the field.

In Rocky Top you sell the same number of hot dogs, cokes and season tickets regardless of wins and losses, so why bother with a coaching change?

Want a new head coach on the sidelines? Stop whining under anonymous KNS thread posts about "how bad things are" and start spending your Saturdays at home watching the games on TV. Stop throwing every spare nickel and dime you have on all things Tennessee and you will be amazed at how quickly a coaching change can occur.

Until you can do that (which you know you can't), best enjoy the next ten years of Fulmer-ball.

You are wrong sir to not support the Vols when you can. You obviously weren't there tonight or you wouldn't have written what you did. The "fans" have left. There were at least 20,000 Alabama fans there. They even had about 1000 in the "Blue Hair" seats in the West stands. It was embarrassing to see Neyland Stadium turned into Bryant-Denny North. Their fans were able to cover the stadium with their cheers in the fourth quarter. Coach Fulmer may be replaced. I really don't care, as long as 1) it doesn't cost me any more, and 2) it doesn't turn us into a Nebraska like fiasco. Some will say anyone is better than Fulmer, Florida found out Zook wasn't. Be careful what you wish for. To those who didn't come to support your team, and let Bama fans have your tickets: Please, please, never set foot in Neyland again.

FedUpVolFan writes:

Watching replay and listening to Vols radio broadcast.Yeah,I know.I have no life.
Ist Quarter:Vols:0 for 4 on third down conversions.The jump by left tackle Chris Scott killed us.Yes.He moved.I watched it in slow motion.
Our poor QB has no clue.Not his fault.Should have called time out before they blitzed and sacked him for a loss.Shanked punt led to 3 points for Bama.We came up a half a yard short of a third down.How?????
Rogers was open and pass was overthrown.Before that Lucas Taylor was wide open and no throw.
And that was just the Ist quarter.
Sad!

iwilbeafan writes:

GO VOLS! Sometimes it is better to support more.

BigVolOnBoard writes:

That win over MSU is looking pretty good right now.

Madkels writes:

Complain about Adams all you want. Complain about fan apathy and no support. But a record of 1-11 versus top 10 teams at home since 2000 says it all. It's time to find a new coach. But we must keep our heads and do this right. A knee jerk just to change will be painful. Hamilton needs to hire the best and be smart about this.

Newtonrail...you are correct. We don't want to follow the Nebraska example.

LakeMaryFLVol writes:

in response to indianacurly:

'john adams is such a <honest> pierce!'

Actually he is a federalist

MidTennVol writes:

Aww, c'mon -- it's a rebuilding year. Clear the benches, give the 2s and 3s some serious playing time, and wait til next year. Build depth, experiment, and plan for the future.

Fulmer will be back next year. He will survive, no doubt about it.

volnknox writes:

in response to DogAndPonyShow:

I don't know why you people think Mike Hamilton even cares about who is coaching the Vols - the same 106,000 Vol happy nuts fill Neyland Stadium week after week regardless of what dog and pony show team takes the field.

In Rocky Top you sell the same number of hot dogs, cokes and season tickets regardless of wins and losses, so why bother with a coaching change?

Want a new head coach on the sidelines? Stop whining under anonymous KNS thread posts about "how bad things are" and start spending your Saturdays at home watching the games on TV. Stop throwing every spare nickel and dime you have on all things Tennessee and you will be amazed at how quickly a coaching change can occur.

Until you can do that (which you know you can't), best enjoy the next ten years of Fulmer-ball.

very true-its sad the same people wanting fulmer to leave are the same ones attending the games in support to keep his job.

vol88 writes:

It's time. Let's go get us some GQ spray-tanned pretty boy and pay him $4 million so we can win another NC.
Wooohoo.

servinggrant writes:

in response to DogAndPonyShow:

I don't know why you people think Mike Hamilton even cares about who is coaching the Vols - the same 106,000 Vol happy nuts fill Neyland Stadium week after week regardless of what dog and pony show team takes the field.

In Rocky Top you sell the same number of hot dogs, cokes and season tickets regardless of wins and losses, so why bother with a coaching change?

Want a new head coach on the sidelines? Stop whining under anonymous KNS thread posts about "how bad things are" and start spending your Saturdays at home watching the games on TV. Stop throwing every spare nickel and dime you have on all things Tennessee and you will be amazed at how quickly a coaching change can occur.

Until you can do that (which you know you can't), best enjoy the next ten years of Fulmer-ball.

Hey guys

Trust me its not the same 106k in those seats. I work for an organization that UT has been giving thousands of tickets to for years, and the number of freebies gets larger and larger every year.

This is a fact, trust me. If you dont believe it call UT ticket office and see who they donate to. Not to mention the free ones given away outside the stadium by the frustrated scalpers.

Let the Tennessee valley fair crowd come on in! ESPN needs to keep coming so they can put more idiots on TV. That will really get recruits in here. Good ole' Rocky top will start to look like everyone in the nation actually thinks we look like....

shipperman#280095 writes:

I told you all week that Bama would kill us. So many said that they felt good about an upset. How good do you feel now? South Carolina is next and you can bet your sweet rear that the "ole ball coach" will pull out all the stops to make us look bad as possible. I believe we will lose to SC and Vandy. just a feeling

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

Aww, c'mon -- it's a rebuilding year. Clear the benches, give the 2s and 3s some serious playing time, and wait til next year. Build depth, experiment, and plan for the future.

Fulmer will be back next year. He will survive, no doubt about it.

Fulmer got a raise last year based on "backing" into the East title. Hamilton also stated that with our highly rated O-Line and strong offense returning, more was expected this year. So do not count on Fulmer being back.

dvol writes:

Things are looking up in Ktown. all the (Joe the Plumbers) will be able to afford tickets again. Parking on the river will be encouraged again. TV timeouts will be a thing of the past. Cokes will be a dollar fifty, and there will be plenty of leg room in the stands. Yep things are looking up in Ktown. Thanks Phil

blitzshoot writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

I told you all week that Bama would kill us. So many said that they felt good about an upset. How good do you feel now? South Carolina is next and you can bet your sweet rear that the "ole ball coach" will pull out all the stops to make us look bad as possible. I believe we will lose to SC and Vandy. just a feeling

I believe I have reached my apathy peak. Does it really mater if UT wins and loses anymore. The water is rushing in quicker than it can be bailed out. Win or lose, I don't see the point any longer.

h_charles writes:

Newtonrails is right:
Fulmer has to go, no matter what your personal leanings, his time has simply come and gone. It is sad, but it happens to the games' greats of recent generations, of which Fulmer must be considered one given his record overall. Schembeckler, Osborne, etc. -- eventually they all must go.

The only real question is who comes in. We can stop with all the big name ex-NFL guys like Gruden or cower -- they aren't coming to knoxville.
It is a very tough spot. Whoever comes in must make a big splash, but also be able to recruit like a madman. There are no Saban's out there, and i don't see any "slamdunk" upstarts like Meyer either.
I think we are in for some very lean years, but it is now time to roll the dice.
This program is headed the way of FSU as it stands -- out of relevancy.

TommyJack writes:

in response to newtonrail:

You are wrong sir to not support the Vols when you can. You obviously weren't there tonight or you wouldn't have written what you did. The "fans" have left. There were at least 20,000 Alabama fans there. They even had about 1000 in the "Blue Hair" seats in the West stands. It was embarrassing to see Neyland Stadium turned into Bryant-Denny North. Their fans were able to cover the stadium with their cheers in the fourth quarter. Coach Fulmer may be replaced. I really don't care, as long as 1) it doesn't cost me any more, and 2) it doesn't turn us into a Nebraska like fiasco. Some will say anyone is better than Fulmer, Florida found out Zook wasn't. Be careful what you wish for. To those who didn't come to support your team, and let Bama fans have your tickets: Please, please, never set foot in Neyland again.

Newton: It is also foolish to place your head in the sand just because Nebraska had Callahan and FL hired Zook. So what's the solution? Stay the course?

Smokey91 writes:

No one really expected UT to compete for 60 minutes against the Tide. They have more talent and obviously are much better coached. But when this season began, all Vol fans had reason to expect a great year for UT. We expected to be ranked in the top 15, maybe even top ten. We expected that new OC Clawson would actually bring a new offense that utililized all of our great talent. After the UCLA game, all those expectations went out the door. Here is what we know, not what we expect. Fulmer's program has fallen and it can't get up. He does not seem to have a clue when he faces good teams, or poor teams for that matter. I love Peyton Manning, but you are wrong about Fulmer. He is not getting it done. The main reason I want UT to fire Fulmer is because he hired Clawson, making us believe they were going to turn around the offense with some sort of spread. I am not sure what level of ball is played at Richmond, but Clawson does not belong at the helm of an offense in the SEC. We know that Hamilton needs to make a drastic change, a tough change maybe, but Fulmer needs to go and I hope they send Clawson with him.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TouchdownTenn:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dupree came by this AM to show me his new shirt that Gen Melon got him.

It proudly said the "Tennessee Flounders".

Also said Gen Melon got made last nite when he couldn't get a warrant for Phixable for impersonating a HC.

tennisvol writes:

Let's don't jump on ole Phil too soon. We still have Wyoming coming in on the 8th at home. Even though we haven't done very good against the better teams, we're ok against these teams where we have more talent and coaching will not make a difference. Heck, ole Phil will have more time to look at the film and find out the problems. Oh yea, make the players work harder in practice. Spring and summer practices, plus 8 games into the season and he's still looking for answers. What else do you need Hamilton?

JayTee writes:

Great article John I couldn't have said it better myself. It's time for everyone to face the facts this program is in shambles and Fulmer cannot right the sinking ship.

At least one thing from practice was brought into the game, laughing and joking. What kind of coach let's players yuk it up on the side lines while your getting your A** kicked.

A loser that's who.

hilltopper writes:

Adams is not the problem. He writes to sell papers. Sometimes he is right and on this one he is. Good grief folks how much worse does it need to get before changes are made. Soemtimes the sports editor speaks for the people and in this case Adams is speaking for the majority. Its time for Coach Fulmer to play golf with the moneyed people. They offered Majors that job and he showed his rearend and went and failed at Pitt. Now CF can take the job and play golf on the millions UT will have to give him to do nothing. Not a bad life. Give the fans a couple of years of his retirement and we will all be cheering for him and what he used to accomplish

AikenVol writes:

in response to Smokey91:

No one really expected UT to compete for 60 minutes against the Tide. They have more talent and obviously are much better coached. But when this season began, all Vol fans had reason to expect a great year for UT. We expected to be ranked in the top 15, maybe even top ten. We expected that new OC Clawson would actually bring a new offense that utililized all of our great talent. After the UCLA game, all those expectations went out the door. Here is what we know, not what we expect. Fulmer's program has fallen and it can't get up. He does not seem to have a clue when he faces good teams, or poor teams for that matter. I love Peyton Manning, but you are wrong about Fulmer. He is not getting it done. The main reason I want UT to fire Fulmer is because he hired Clawson, making us believe they were going to turn around the offense with some sort of spread. I am not sure what level of ball is played at Richmond, but Clawson does not belong at the helm of an offense in the SEC. We know that Hamilton needs to make a drastic change, a tough change maybe, but Fulmer needs to go and I hope they send Clawson with him.

Well said, if we would just fire the OC then all would be better.

BUT WAIT

We already fired Randy Sanders, which resulted in an increase in production and wins. They let Cutcliffe Go to Duke, who turned a anemic Football team into a Top 35 school.

This offense looks like the same old tired non-sense it always has...what people forget is that Clausen wasn't even 1st choice. Fulmer's other idea was to bring the Clemson coordinator here...WAIT his boss just got fired for failing to meet expectation.

This team once upon a time managed the game through discipline in the running game, passing stingy defense and opportunistic special teams with a strong kicker. Every one of those areas, save the defense, is pathetic. Call it recruiting, coaching, whatever, it all falls under the head coach.

volnmdtn writes:

Let see, we beat the powerhouse teams of UAB, Northern Illinois, and Miss. State. Glad to see we are getting our 2.8 million dollars worth of coaching.

Why wait, go on and get it over with and replace Fulmer today and hire Josh Briscoe to coach our team. He has the inside track on the job because he is such a funny guy on the sidelines. Did he not realize the T.V. cameras were watching him while he was telling jokes or being funny with a teammate?

FLVol writes:

I think you are stating the obvious Mr. Adams. These columns are getting stale along with the UT Football Program. In watching the game last night, I developed a stomach virus so thanks CPF.

servinggrant writes:

in response to volnmdtn:

Let see, we beat the powerhouse teams of UAB, Northern Illinois, and Miss. State. Glad to see we are getting our 2.8 million dollars worth of coaching.

Why wait, go on and get it over with and replace Fulmer today and hire Josh Briscoe to coach our team. He has the inside track on the job because he is such a funny guy on the sidelines. Did he not realize the T.V. cameras were watching him while he was telling jokes or being funny with a teammate?

You said it! I wish Eric Berry would have walked over and kicked Josh in the cods....HARD

richvol writes:

I really enjoyed seeing Stephens jumping all over Lucas Taylor on the sidelines...too bad it wasn't the coaching staff. Maybe Hamilton could take lessons from Stephens on how to hold people responsible.

tnbigg writes:

I think it's ironic that tide brought this coach in and the tide will carry him away. The difference being that the tide brought him into a program on the incline and it will carry him away into obscurity from a program he personally destroyed...what an honorable man indeed...

tnbigg writes:

Speaking of which...there has been no better time than to hear about the tide that brought him in...

tnbigg writes:

Dang. This team must have better players on offense:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/teams/s...

Look at that offensive output...vs ours...

volindaphne writes:

in response to tenuscvol:

And those three teams have been rand #1, #2 and #4 in the country at some time this season...

John: Did you pick UT to win this game?

Lighten up....

I think you just made John's point?????

maciste54 writes:

I have never anticipated a game with the thought that the Vols just can't possibly win nor have I quit watching the game as early as the middle of the third quarter. This season has changed that. Not only are the Vols losing they are losing in such dismal fashion it is hard to fake interest. I feel for the young men on the field and the fans. Something is rotten in Knoxville and it's time to clean it up.

brody1969 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

leedsvol2007 writes:

Despite the loss I would like to complement our team on their effort last night. In watching the game I thought we played a 60 minute game and gave as much as we got from a physical standpoint.

Alabama was simply better than us this year and deserved to win the game. I don't think it was as much coaching as it was a senior quarterback that had a good night and great effort from their down lineman on defense that allowed no easy running plays.

I thought Stephens showed his inexperience at times but did a few good things in the 2nd half.

On the other hand I don't think the officials had a good night. The interference call on Lucas Taylor was not just technical it was downright awful.

And the holding call on Chris Scott was not a good one as well.

Any chance we had to gain some momentum went out the door on those two plays.

The fumble Berry ran into the end zone could have gone either way but appeared to have been called correctly.

If this program is going to get back to the level of success we had in the 90's we have to have more nights with this level of effort starting next week against USC.

GoVols!

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