Adams: Despite upheaval, class maintains dignity

John Adams

Tennessee's 2010 recruiting class won't rank as its best. But it might be remembered as UT's most reassuring class.

The program has lost at least six games in three of the last five seasons and has had three different head coaches in 15 months. Yet it hasn't lost its allure to recruits from all over the country.

Some of Wednesday's signees first imagined themselves as Vols when Phillip Fulmer was the longtime head coach. Others were drawn to UT during Lane Kiffin's drive-by. The final additions to what should be no worse than a consensus top-15 class entrusted their football future to new coach Derek Dooley.

The class was three head coaches in the making. Consider all the assistants that factored into it. And has any program in the country had as many strength and conditioning coaches in the last 15 months?

Never mind who the head coach is or whether the support staff is manned by temps. UT remains a desirable program.

That has to be reassuring to one of the most passionate fan bases in the country.

I'm not suggesting that a 100,000-seat stadium, state-of-the art facilities and great tradition right all wrongs. But they combine for a wonderfully large safety net.

This class is a reminder of that. So is last year's class.

UT assembled its 2009 class while Kiffin was still putting together his coaching staff. With even less time and staff, Dooley also has proved to be a competent closer while finishing what Kiffin started.

If you had a composite ranking of the last two classes, UT probably would be in the top 10 despite all of its disadvantages.

Of course, there's another side to the story. While UT is scrambling its way into the vicinity of recruiting's top 10, it's not gaining any ground on its most formidable competition.

Florida, Alabama and LSU from the SEC all have landed No. 1-ranked recruiting classes in the last few years. They also have combined to win the last four national championships.

Look what Florida's Urban Meyer pulled off. He announced his retirement, changed his mind the next day, amended his retirement to a leave of absence, raised questions about his health, and then landed what is being touted as one of the all-time great recruiting hauls.

How do you compete with that?

You certainly can't do it on recruiting alone. So Dooley and his assistants better be able to coach.

Kiffin's staff didn't just make a recruiting splash. They developed what veteran talent was available. For example, quarterback Jonathan Compton, running back Montario Hardesty and defensive tackle Dan Williams all exceeded expectations as seniors.

The retention of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and linebackers coach Lance Thompson is a plus for Dooley. Although his new hires don't have the name recognition of a Monte Kiffin or an Ed Orgeron, they might form a more cohesive team.

You will have to wait and see about that. You also will need years to determine if this recruiting class is as good as billed.

But the class already has given you something. It has reminded you that although UT's program might sag, it won't collapse.

And in times of turmoil, that has to be reassuring.

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

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Comments » 34

minnehan writes:

Typical Adams...........Go home to LSU or Bama whichever it is

cdonsbach writes:

Go Vols!

Carlitovol writes:

With the previous staff, we probably would have gotten Ambles, Copeland, Williams and Stanley...

On the flip side, there's NO WAY we get Stone, John Brown, Rogers and Hunter WITHOUT Coach Dooley...

CDD, keep this ship moving forward..! GO BIG ORANGE!!!

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to Carlitovol:

With the previous staff, we probably would have gotten Ambles, Copeland, Williams and Stanley...

On the flip side, there's NO WAY we get Stone, John Brown, Rogers and Hunter WITHOUT Coach Dooley...

CDD, keep this ship moving forward..! GO BIG ORANGE!!!

I think the Stanley thing was moot anyway. He didn't meet academic standards to enroll at UT from what I'm hearing.

sidwalkvol writes:

Did he not just say the other night that our class was decimated?

Gotta love how these guys crank out the phooey with as many different "takes" as there are deadlines, and never do they apologize or back-down or repent or do-over. Just do a strafing run, then blow some smoke, then throw a kiss, then ruin a reputation, then call for a resignation, then lead the parade and say they were there all the time... I get so sick of the just-smug-enough attitudes and ever-so-slight condescensions.

Carlitovol writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

I think the Stanley thing was moot anyway. He didn't meet academic standards to enroll at UT from what I'm hearing.

Interesting, good to know..

I'm pretty sure Kenbrell Thompkins is in the same boat.. Because of his academics, I don't think he can play anywhere in the SEC in 2010. That's what I've heard anyway...

HartfordCTvol writes:

I'm actually glad UCLA had a good class. They are my new second favorite team. I hope they dominate the Pac-10 and become the powerhouse of Los Angeles.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to Carlitovol:

Interesting, good to know..

I'm pretty sure Kenbrell Thompkins is in the same boat.. Because of his academics, I don't think he can play anywhere in the SEC in 2010. That's what I've heard anyway...

Think you're right. I bet The Punk is glad the PAC-10 standards on JUCO recruits don't size up to SEC standards.

CHITOWNVOL writes:

so we lost Williams, Stanley, Thompkins, etc... feminthea.......... can't wait to see how 2010 plays out. feeling good about RB, FB, QB, TE, WR, DE, LB (assuming everyone is healthy). We will probably have to start 2 Frosh on OL. Who will play Center? Any word on Mcneil's healing and eligibility? Any word on Austin Roger's eligibility?

FWBVol writes:

I think this column is on target. Three staffs have had a hand in the recruiting of this class in one way or another. And despite all the turmoil and turnover, Tennessee remains a choice destination for some of the top prospects in the nation.

I love the staff Derek Dooley has put together, and look forward to the final vacancy being filled.

I just wonder if coach Wilcox will be a Chavis-type D-Coordinator in that he will also coach a specific position or a Monte that oversees everything without coaching one certain position.

I see advantage to both systems. When Chavis coached LB it allowed us to have separate coaches for defensive ends and defensive tackles, which could be seen as a plus. The plus for being a DC without position responsibilities is it allows the coach more freedom to go from position group to position group during unit drills.

UT4ever writes:

Adams, way to go!! Conjuring up late-night trash has become your specialty!! Maybe you should get off the tweeds and pizza, and actually write something worthy of print!!! HOHOOHO!!!!!

Maybe we show lower our expectations of your articles, bc/ even though your columns may sag, maybe they won't collapse, either~!!!!!!!!! HOHHOOHOOHHOOHO!!!!

AllVols writes:

What is the point of this article? He bashes the UT program, then builds it up, then bashes it, then builds it up again. Really? I don't think the devoted fans needs to be cuddled or antagonized. We want to see results.

TommyJack writes:

Seemed like a pretty fair piece to me.

CroKev writes:

Can anyone tell me if Kippy Brown is still on staff? With this great receiving corps in tow it seems like he would be the ideal guy to coach them.

Overseas_VolFan writes:

"Dooley also has proved to be a competent closer while finishing what Kiffin started."..
Give me a break Adams.. CDD repaired the damage caused by LK not finished what he started..
Besides.. UT name and tradition are so big as will stay that way... LK is the one who forgot that and tried to sell himself for recruits and I think some who followed him don't know the difference between UT and USC..

Overseas_VolFan writes:

Yesterday,I was hoping that John Adams would get a scholarship offer from USC..!!!

eprahm (Inactive) writes:

Good article.

vut56#231073 writes:

"Class maintains Dignity" ?? Although KNS editors probably put that together, what does it mean? "Class" as in he has some class" Or, the "class of 2010 has some dignity" How do we know these kids have either class or dignity?

I think we would rather have one well thought out article per week, than some rush job each hour.

creekroad writes:

in response to sidwalkvol:

Did he not just say the other night that our class was decimated?

Gotta love how these guys crank out the phooey with as many different "takes" as there are deadlines, and never do they apologize or back-down or repent or do-over. Just do a strafing run, then blow some smoke, then throw a kiss, then ruin a reputation, then call for a resignation, then lead the parade and say they were there all the time... I get so sick of the just-smug-enough attitudes and ever-so-slight condescensions.

Amen and Amen

TennHillbilly writes:

in response to ETorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And Markeith Ambles didn't know how to spell Trojan.

AWOLVol writes:

in response to CroKev:

Can anyone tell me if Kippy Brown is still on staff? With this great receiving corps in tow it seems like he would be the ideal guy to coach them.

Nope. When Coach Dooley was hired he went back to the NFL...to the Seahawks. Don't know why he left (his choice or Dooley's?) but he's gone regardless. I was a fan of his and appreciated what he did for UT in his two stints on our staff. I wish him well in his choice. We have a nice staff coming together though, so we'll be just fine.

wally writes:

in response to minnehan:

Typical Adams...........Go home to LSU or Bama whichever it is

say what???? This article is on target...and it's not negative. I don't get your point on this one.

minnehan writes:

in response to wally:

say what???? This article is on target...and it's not negative. I don't get your point on this one.

It is an opinion......mine; just like yours and I didn't ask you to "get it". Didn't ask anyone to agree or disagree. Glad you liked it. I didn't!

kd45music writes:

in response to CroKev:

Can anyone tell me if Kippy Brown is still on staff? With this great receiving corps in tow it seems like he would be the ideal guy to coach them.

Where have you been?? He went to the Seahawks a month ago.

wally writes:

in response to minnehan:

It is an opinion......mine; just like yours and I didn't ask you to "get it". Didn't ask anyone to agree or disagree. Glad you liked it. I didn't!

never mind...now I do get it...

VOLume27 writes:

in response to minnehan:

Typical Adams...........Go home to LSU or Bama whichever it is

Regarding UT, Adams tries hard (sometimes too hard) to be the "objective" journalist. Very few would ever accuse Adams of being a UT homer. But neither is he a UT hater.

I found the article to be OK, though it does damn by faint praise. Dooley/staff did one HELL of a job with this class. Certainly better than showing to be "a COMPETENT closer."

And what's up with "dignity"? A widow biting her lip and not going to pieces during the burial service shows dignity.

Using dignity re: this class is like saying Dooley "fought the good fight." Only proponents for losing causes fight the good fight. Winners don't fight the good fight -- they win!

Dooley et al. did an incredible job! This class evidences concepts such as talent, potential and heart. Congrats to Dooley and the UT staff!

cgbtn writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

I think the Stanley thing was moot anyway. He didn't meet academic standards to enroll at UT from what I'm hearing.

I am very proud to be a graduate of UT, and the education I got there served me well. But, there is no way UT compares well with USC academically.

OrangePride writes:

I think the key idea in this piece is that the real question is can Dooley coach? The job he did at Tech with much less talent is impressive. But the SEC is a whole different kind of animal, so that is the big question. Every VOL fan is pulling for Dooley because he is a class act and we bleed orange. I think, if we have a good staff, Dooley will surprise a lot of people. But let's give him a couple of years and not go too overboard in either direction this year. GO BIG ORANGE!!!

Colliervol writes:

in response to Mule_Days_King:

I think the Stanley thing was moot anyway. He didn't meet academic standards to enroll at UT from what I'm hearing.

And from what one guy posted on another article, it sounded like a Chia Pet could get admitted to USC.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

"Class maintains Dignity" ?? Although KNS editors probably put that together, what does it mean? "Class" as in he has some class" Or, the "class of 2010 has some dignity" How do we know these kids have either class or dignity?

I think we would rather have one well thought out article per week, than some rush job each hour.

Well, actually READING the article would have maybe cleared up that little mystery for you in a jiffy. Or maybe not, given the level of reading comprehension that is the apparent norm on this board.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to cgbtn:

I am very proud to be a graduate of UT, and the education I got there served me well. But, there is no way UT compares well with USC academically.

Ditto and ditto, but the SEC actually DOES have higher admission requirements for JUCOs than almost any other conference. There are VERY few schools, even those generally considered elite academic institutions, which do not bend their general admissions requirements to enroll athletes.

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Ditto and ditto, but the SEC actually DOES have higher admission requirements for JUCOs than almost any other conference. There are VERY few schools, even those generally considered elite academic institutions, which do not bend their general admissions requirements to enroll athletes.

you are right...just one school doesn't bend...Vanderbilt. That is it. I don't like them, but I respect them for it. They wouldn't take Ron Mercer because he wasn't smart enough, even though his guardian was a former VU letterman and he graduated from a well known Nashville private school and they wouldn't take JP Prince because they do not accept mid-year transfers. Those are just 2 off of the top of my head.

Again don't like them, but I sure as heck respect them for not being the hypocrits that Duke basketball is...

vut56#231073 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Well, actually READING the article would have maybe cleared up that little mystery for you in a jiffy. Or maybe not, given the level of reading comprehension that is the apparent norm on this board.

READ it twice.

"...the class has given you something..."

"UT's program might sag; it won't collaspe."

And, in times of turmoil, that has to be reassuring."

The word dignity was not used in the article and being reassured has nothing to do with my dignity being maintained by our program not collasping. Pointless article lead-in.

NBForrest writes:

I love Adams.

-Communism

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