Adams: Vol nation has no reason to panic

John Adams

If you take the New York Times story on Tennessee football at face value, you're probably wondering, "What's the big deal?"

So a couple of UT "recruiting hostesses" allegedly held up a pro-Vols sign at a high school football game in South Carolina. It's not as though they committed armed robbery, looked silly trying to tackle Dexter McCluster or took another job with so much recruiting yet to be done. They didn't even stiff the local quarterback club or get stiffed by the Outback Bowl.

Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not minimizing the Times' report that UT's football program is under investigation by the NCAA. But unless the NCAA can prove the hostesses were on the clock and under orders from UT, there's no major violation. Without that evidence, the young women are merely zealous fans at best or rogue hostesses at worst.

The bigger issue is the stream of bad news circulating through the program since the first half of the Memphis game when UT's offense was purring along so efficiently, I checked the Tigers' coaching booth to make sure Georgia's Willie Martinez wasn't moonlighting.

Since then, only two things have gone right for UT football: Vanderbilt and Kentucky. And beating the Commodores and Wildcats is so routine, the gratification doesn't last as long as a small bag of chips.

Weigh the Commodores and Wildcats against all that has gone wrong:

n Memphis' offense looked so good in the second half against UT reserves, I wondered if their receivers were worthy of Heisman consideration.

n In their last public act as UT football players, freshmen Nu'Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards committed an early-morning random robbery of penniless convenience store patrons. As if that's not stupid enough, their alleged getaway car had less acceleration than McCluster.

n McCluster picked up where Memphis left off - but did so against UT's first team - in rushing for a school-record 282 yards in Ole Miss' 42-17 victory at Oxford. The Vols offered so little resistance, he was fresh enough afterwards to dance on the sideline and outrun a Prius.

n The Outback Bowl shined its sun on Auburn, instead of UT, although you could argue that the Vols got a better deal from the Chick-fil-A, which will offer a higher-ranked opponent in Virginia Tech, a better venue in the Georgia Dome and more exposure with a prime-time kickoff on New Year's Eve. But the Vols still got snubbed.

n UT coach Lane Kiffin canceled his speaking engagement with the Knoxville Quarterback Club, though you could argue that fans got a better deal with basketball coach Bruce Pearl pinch-hitting.

n The splendid coaching staff Kiffin assembled has shown signs of unraveling. Granted, assistant coaches are only slightly less migratory than geese, but when they leave UT for similar positions elsewhere - amidst the stretch run in recruiting - that's more disconcerting than a snub from a third-tier bowl.

That brings us to the latest dark cloud drifting over UT: An NCAA investigation.

Such news might induce widespread panic at Alabama or Kentucky. But most UT fans probably would be more antsy about a rematch with Ole Miss than with NCAA investigators.

UT has been investigated for an "illegal" summer camp, phone fraud, academic improprieties, and various recruiting violations through the years. NCAA investigators spent so much time at UT in 1991, they might as well have enlisted in the Big Orange Navy. But all the Vols lost in all those investigations were a couple of scholarships.

While some fans might think "the sky is falling" in the wake of an NCAA investigation, UT fans are more apt to think: "Bring it on."

The only difference in this investigation than the others is that Kiffin attracts enemies the way Tiger Woods attracts bimbos. He has taken shots at several SEC schools, committed half-a-dozen secondary NCAA violations, repeatedly used Florida coach Urban Meyer as a punch line, been reprimanded by the SEC office, and gained a reputation among fellow coaches as an arrogant jerk.

Hey, nobody's perfect.

Kiffin also has recruited obsessively and successfully, turned UT football from losers into winners, and breathed life into a program desperately in need of resuscitation. None of that endears you to the competition.

So you could assume the competition won't have any compunction about stickin' it to Kiffin. He has made himself a target. And based on the improvement at UT in the last year, he also has established himself as a threat to the powers-that-be.

Kiffin can't change that. But he can change the program's momentum.

Two days after UT lost to a mediocre UCLA team, two recruits announced commitments to the Vols. Just a coincidence, right?

In light of an NCAA investigation, maybe another coincidence is in order. If the Vols have any "secret" commitments, it's time to bring them out.

Just make sure they cite UT's passionate fan base, great football tradition and academic excellence as their reasons for choosing the Vols. And leave the hostesses out of it.

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

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Comments » 80

UT4ever writes:

Adams, that's the best article that you've written in years!! Finally, you lay off the late-night booze, and bammm.......it's a winner!! Just make sure that you write down your secret recipe for writing good articles, so you don't go back to your usual habit of dropping Bombs!! HOHOOHO!!~!

volstasis writes:

Bring on Elam now that Strong is gone. That would heel all that ails the Volnation.

LaneTrain writes:

I just wasted 2 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

It's never a good thing to have the NCAA snooping around. Why not call Juwaun James and ask what exactly the NCAA's questions were. Rumors are it was more than about who was his 'host'. I'm hoping that is all false rumors.

I wonder what the penalty will be if the hostess gate can be proven with a receipt on a credit card or other 'written statement'.

huntined#565710 writes:

This will not be a problem two days and it will be gone..

Madkels writes:

Pretty good write up Mr. Adams.

bradr114 writes:

agree 100% with this article.

mercuryvol writes:

Help us,help us our program is doomed!What a waste of time reading this.C'mon Adams,comment on the ramifications of the charges if true.Oh wait,I forgot,KNS doesn't have inside information anymore-jounalism today is all about "stirring the pot" not investigation.

golfballs03 writes:

What are these "secret" commitments he speaks of?

prideofthesouthland writes:

I thought Wilson got his salary doubled and a title change at LSU.

golfballs03 writes:

in response to hollowheadvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what? it sounds like it's all they are intersted in. they better lay off our recruits!!! it sounds like the NCAA is in cahoots with one of our rivals. this entire thing is fishy! how come no other schools with hostess programs are getting investigated?

Ayres_Hall writes:

Adams favorite pastime is picking scabs.

mbearden#546949 writes:

in response to hollowheadvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did you even read this article? Name says it all....moron interloper.

Whether or not this goes anywhere, nothing was talked about except Tennessee. BCS Championship, coaching changes, interesting bowl match ups, etc. Tennessee trumped them all...AGAIN. Whether you like it or not, no one can stop talking about it. UT is the center of everyone's attention. Oh sure, the lopers on here will try to talk down, but they are still talking about UT. They tell everyone about UT, to the point that UT is all anyone hears, and we haven't even had to pay for the TV or radio time...or even pick up the cost of a billboard. Opposing coaches and fans...you're just scared.

RoadTrip writes:

Yawn.

Losing sleep tonight over this one - Nah.

Did enjoy the article though. One of Adams' better pieces.

go_vols_go writes:

We will get through this. Slap on the wrist.

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to hollowheadvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you stupid enough to believe that we are going to read any more trash from Mr. Thamel and Mr. Evans???

It has been proven that they are anti-Tennessee and are in Mr. Urban Meyers back pocket.

This is really going to backfire on someone. I surely hope you're not still around providing worthless links to uninvestigated, poorly written articles.
My, my, you sure aren't very bright, are you?

the10sevol writes:

in response to hollowheadvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

gee, i hope "juwuan jones" doesn't throw us under the bus. nyt, lmao!

GBO

mbearden#546949 writes:

in response to Post_In_Waiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please see my above post about how interlopers can't stop talking about Tennessee. They either don't even talk about their own teams anymore or can't mention any benefits of their own programs without mentioning Tennessee. No one can help themselves. What better success than UT taking the center of your attention? I'm sure some 'loper will jump all over this....so here is a preemptive "THANK YOU FOR PROVING MY POINT."

mbearden#546949 writes:

in response to APPLEJAX555:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

THAT IS THE GREATEST CLOSING IN THE HISTORY OF ANYTHING EVER!!!!!!

"HOW BOUT MY VOLS!!!??? THEY ARE HUGE AND IN YOUR FACE!!!!" by b_appleton#223053

balloonman writes:

Adams.....are you really going to remain a shill for these clowns.....or are you going to ask Hamilton the tough questions.....like has he had to reprimand any of this staff for inappropriate behavior since their arrival and if so what for?

mbearden#546949 writes:

in response to balloonman:

Adams.....are you really going to remain a shill for these clowns.....or are you going to ask Hamilton the tough questions.....like has he had to reprimand any of this staff for inappropriate behavior since their arrival and if so what for?

Wow....guess we know where the balloon is. Nobody likes being around the guy that does nothing but complain. Get on the bus or get out.

Vols033 writes:

in response to Post_In_Waiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are a moron. 10 win seasons? We have had 3 in 8 years under Fulmer this decade. Players drafted? We have had hardly anyone drafted in the past few years. Kids in trouble? What about 11 arrest in the matter of a couple of months under Fulmer. SEC title games? How about one of the longest droughts for UT football in quite some time without an SEC championship. When we did make the game, it was because we backed in, not because we beat anyone (Florida) to get there. National titles? We got to the game once and sniffed it once, in 16 years. Please don't speak about how things used to be better. All I can remember is blowouts at the hands of our rivals, losing seasons, teams that quit in the second half, and players who got worse from their freshman to their senior seasons. Thanks loser for posting quite possibly the worst post ever.

eduardo writes:

Brian Kelley.

RockinTop writes:

You know, it isn't that the Vols are being talked about all over the place that I love so much....it's that Kiffin is in everyones head, especially Urban Meyer's!!!

Seriously, I find this all quite amazing and I freakin love it!!

It's attitude! Did you see the comments from Corey Miller's dad???

No panic here....the war has just begun!

GO BIG ORANGE!!!!

mbearden#546949 writes:

in response to eduardo:

Brian Kelley.

Notre Dame. 4 to 5 years. Slightly over .500. Consult with other out of work coaches over next move.

tennezz writes:

in response to Post_In_Waiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We`ve had some bad ones visit over here...But your the biggest idiot of them all!

Volalum1992 writes:

Why does this seem like such an echo chamber? We seem to be looking at the NCAA and saying "bring it on". Have we lost our minds? Lane has been coach not even a year and the laundry list of BS in this blog post is accurate. Kiffin has done more than ruffle feathers. He is a lightning rod for criticism and thats ok as long as it doesn't involve the NCAA and Slive but it has and it will continue to. We went 7-5 this year not 10-2 or 11-1. He may be a great coach, he hasn't proven that yet but he has proven that he can get the attention of organizations that can hammer us. When the NCAA sends us an official letter of investigation then all bets are off they will go wherever and talk to whoever they want, whether we landed a recruit or not he will get a visit. Orange Pride will be put the through the ringer and I don't want to know what has been going on. I fear that this is just the beginning. My god people he has only been here a year and at times it has been downright crazy. I need my blood pressure medicine. Heh!

TnScooby writes:

in response to balloonman:

Adams.....are you really going to remain a shill for these clowns.....or are you going to ask Hamilton the tough questions.....like has he had to reprimand any of this staff for inappropriate behavior since their arrival and if so what for?

Well Gee Whiz Clark Kent, why don't YOU just tell us instead???...And don't be a typical troll, post facts with links...

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I have not followed every word that has come from Lane's mouth but it seems every media outlet loves to paint him in a negative way. Most of it is lazy,incomplete and poorly delivered so called news. AS far as respect from other SEC coaches goes; I could care less; Hit them where it hurts!! Is anybody naive enough to think Rich Brooks or Les Myles have mutual respect for Urban Meyer?? All this mess is only meant to knock UT off a few decent recruits and will work to some extent..In the long run it's not a matter of IF Lane leads the program to a NC but a merely a matter of WHEN!!

forkball writes:

in response to prideofthesouthland:

I thought Wilson got his salary doubled and a title change at LSU.

He left out that small detail, Eddie Gran did well for himself also.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

bring it on.

Salpointe writes:

Good article, John; not because it's pro-vols but because it's the truth!

Mule_Days_King writes:

Good Morning, Big Orange Nation and trolls.
Glad to see you're still here posting "leaks" memphistom. What would we do without your insightfulness?
What is do know is this: NOTHING!!!
Nothing has been proven or substantiated. Who's your source on this credit card story?
Do you have an inside track on this investigation all the way across the state?
As I posted last night, if there were rules broken, then the NCAA and the university should handle it appropriately. But coming from a city and school notorious for illegal recruiting activities, pull the log out of your own eye first, memphistom.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to ThePhantom_96_06_08:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How can you call something vague and accurate at the same time?
Just wondering.

99gator writes:

the time to raise concern would be if tennessee tries to place blame on the orange pride members. they would acknowledged that inappropriate things happened, but then claim they had no knowledge.

if that's the case, then there could be a problem.

but, again, i don't even know what the punishment would be for this if the worst were true.

ChattMac writes:

in response to ThePhantom_96_06_08:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get off this board, buddy. That rumor was just now started by you. I suggested your post be removed. All posts that are pure made-up BS should be removed immediately..

ORANGE5 writes:

The best article you have written, no need to send you back to Lousiana yet!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to ORANGE5:

The best article you have written, no need to send you back to Lousiana yet!

With ya on the article,the rest not so much.

mancrushonkiffin writes:

NY TIMES---Hahaha, the same paper that use to employ Jayson Blair.

CrankE writes:

What John!? No Tearboy?

You've lost that loving feeling...
Wooa that loving feeling.

drone#208075 writes:

Somedays you have to beat the umpire also.

10ECDave writes:

in response to hollowheadvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, I don't know what article you read, but the only thing I read in the NYT article is that they are investigating the hostess and the fact that they traveled to Duncan, SC to see these players. I live in Greenville, SC about 15 miles from Duncan, and have heard alot about this recruiting investigation. I think CSP of the chickens has something to do with this. The kid is supposedly leaning/going to USC and is not a fan of the Big Orange. I don't think anything big will come of this, but it smells like a witch hunt to me. Go Big Orange!!

SEC__Headgear writes:

Tennessee has proven more than capable of hosting the NCAA and its lawyers know the standard better than the investigators. Under normal circumstances this is a cake walk. With three high profile SEC coaches and the league commissioner personally against UT this could turn out to be a hose job.
Regardless of the outcome, the NCAA remains a joke and hurts student atheletics far more than it helps.

ThurmondEppy writes:

in response to Post_In_Waiting:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

One word: Wyoming.

dlobh writes:

in response to Vols033:

You are a moron. 10 win seasons? We have had 3 in 8 years under Fulmer this decade. Players drafted? We have had hardly anyone drafted in the past few years. Kids in trouble? What about 11 arrest in the matter of a couple of months under Fulmer. SEC title games? How about one of the longest droughts for UT football in quite some time without an SEC championship. When we did make the game, it was because we backed in, not because we beat anyone (Florida) to get there. National titles? We got to the game once and sniffed it once, in 16 years. Please don't speak about how things used to be better. All I can remember is blowouts at the hands of our rivals, losing seasons, teams that quit in the second half, and players who got worse from their freshman to their senior seasons. Thanks loser for posting quite possibly the worst post ever.

I think you need to watch who you're calling moron, there, pal. Did you just become a UT fan in 2005? Lest you forget, from 1993 - 2007, UT won the SEC East 7 times - 1993 (Tied), 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003 (Tied), 2004, and 2007. That's 7 times in 15 years.

As for 10 win seasons:

1995 11-1
1996 10-2
1997 11-2
1998 13-0
2001 11-2
2003 10-3
2004 10-4

Heck we even won 10 games as recently as 2007.

The first half of Fulmer's regime was outstanding, and UT had the most players in the NFL at one point early in this decade. However, recruiting classes began to decline. Other schools got better coaches. We could no longer get by on just talent because other schools had as much or more talent and better coaching. It was time for Fulmer to go because he couldn't keep up. Now UT is trying to get back to their talent level and actually coach them too. As long as Lane can continue to recruit successfully and keep quality coaches, it should happen.

GBO!!!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

Yawn.

Losing sleep tonight over this one - Nah.

Did enjoy the article though. One of Adams' better pieces.

I know I didn't lose any sleep over it last night because I knew that this was much ado about nothing.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to ThePhantom_96_06_08:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So many words, so little time.
Wow, Phantom! You are right. How did I miss it?
Kiffin is an incompetent dolt that is being paid millions to quit coaching in a game against a bitter rival.
Thanks for that bit of knowledge. I now know where to turn to get a true insight of how Kiffin thinks.
Here's a completely accurate statement: Urban knew after the UT game that if Kiffin had equal talent, the game would have gone the other way. That's why he used the "my kids had the flu" phooey to justify the closeness of the game.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to mbearden#546949:

Wow....guess we know where the balloon is. Nobody likes being around the guy that does nothing but complain. Get on the bus or get out.

"Get on the bus or get out."

Couldn't have put in better myself!! GOOD ONE!!!

smoky50 writes:

in response to golfballs03:

what? it sounds like it's all they are intersted in. they better lay off our recruits!!! it sounds like the NCAA is in cahoots with one of our rivals. this entire thing is fishy! how come no other schools with hostess programs are getting investigated?

That's an easy answer. Mike "Slime" has a double standard. If it were Florida or Alabama not a word would be said. Mike "Slime" needs to STFU and and get off Kiffin's case. Slime runs the SEC like a Russian Czar!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to ChattMac:

Get off this board, buddy. That rumor was just now started by you. I suggested your post be removed. All posts that are pure made-up BS should be removed immediately..

Don't worry about him, ChattMac...He is just a troll...There are a number of reasons as to why he and the other ones are even interested in UT....'Nuff said!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to LaneTrain:

I just wasted 2 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

It's never a good thing to have the NCAA snooping around. Why not call Juwaun James and ask what exactly the NCAA's questions were. Rumors are it was more than about who was his 'host'. I'm hoping that is all false rumors.

I wonder what the penalty will be if the hostess gate can be proven with a receipt on a credit card or other 'written statement'.

Still no big deal. Even if UT sanctioned it and paid for it, it won't amount to anything more than an illegal contact by a university representative. As long as nothing changed hands, and I do mean nothing, and no promises were made regarding any extra benefits for the player or his family, it's no big deal. At most probably probation. My guess is that they can't prove anything and we will get another secondary. Remember, no matter what Adams or anyone else (NYT) calls it, it is NOT a formal investigation. It is a review of a situation they [NCAA] were made aware of some time ago. Major penalties do not come as a result of reviews. The only two things that bother me are that first, we may not have all the information as to the scope of their "review" meaning it could turn into an investigation, and two, it's never, never, never good to have the NCAA talking to your recruits, scrutinizing the activities of your employees, or snooping around your campus, especially in the area of recruiting. However, I think this is a tempest in a teapot and nothing will come of it if it is resolved quickly. Go Vols!!!

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