Mike Strange: October was historically tough for UT

Mike Strange

Game recap: UT vs South Carolina

April is the cruelest month, wrote the poet T.S. Eliot. Those who profess to bleed Tennessee orange beg to differ.

There may have been tougher months to grind through than the October that just ended, but they don't come to mind.

October is the month in which college football teams set the stage for championship runs in November.

At Tennessee in 2010, October was the month the Vols went 0-4 and got outscored 136-58.

October is the month when anticipation for basketball season begins to build. The preseason polls appear, practice begins in earnest and the season-opener is just around the corner.

At Tennessee in 2010, October was the month UT fans learned more dispiriting details that heightened concern about Bruce Pearl's NCAA mess.

Here's the good news: Check your calendar. It's November.

That's not to suggest Tennessee has a clean slate, that all its problems vanish with the flip of a page.

Derek Dooley's football team is still short of numbers, experience and, at some positions, talent.

The NCAA investigation of Pearl's basketball program is still hovering. Worse news is possible yet.

Still, for the fans at least, November should present much-needed outlets for relief.

Before football season kicked off, realists could project a winless October. LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina were in better shape than the Vols. Alabama was on a higher level altogether.

Sure enough, it came to pass. UT had a chance to beat LSU on Oct. 2 and has only a colossal, self-inflicted wound to blame for a 16-14 loss in stoppage time.

The Vols never answered the bell at Georgia, gave Alabama a run for a half, then scrapped with South Carolina into the final minutes.

Tennessee has experienced one prior winless October, but it was only half this tough. In 1991, the Vols lost to Florida and Alabama and had two open dates.

The 1909 Vols went 0-4-1 in October. A scoreless tie with Centre College was the highlight.

The November schedule - Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Kentucky - is less ominous. The Vols won't be 16- to 17-point underdogs in any of them, as they were in every October outing.

But is the team too beat down physically or mentally from October? It's a fair question.

"I don't see any sign of us collapsing,'' Dooley said Sunday.

"Probably our worst game was Georgia. We played a little bit better against Alabama and a little bit better against South Carolina.

"As long as we continue that upward trend we'll be OK.''

Over in Thompson-Boling Arena, there's a mixture of excitement and dread.

We learned in October what UT should have made clear at its initial Pearl/NCAA news conference in September - that UT revoked Pearl's contract. And while both parties are working on getting a new one signed, it hasn't happened yet.

The NCAA will weigh in with a letter of allegations, perhaps in December. In a worst-case scenario, further penalties could make it difficult for Pearl to survive. And that's a development nobody wants to see.

But while waiting for the proverbial other sneaker to drop, at least there will be games to play. The first exhibition is Wednesday and the season opens for real Nov. 12.

Pearl's deepest team will be good and fun to watch. Thompson-Boling Arena will be rocking with positive energy.

You remember positive energy? There wasn't a lot of it around in October.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 or http://blogs.knoxnews/strange.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 7

BrassMonkey writes:

They will continue to be tough with an unqualified coach.

RDW writes:

Mike, please give it a rest on the CBP thing. Are you anti Pearl or not good enough at your profession to find something positive to write about? As for the BrassMonkey, he sounds like an idiot.

volsfannsc writes:

in response to BrassMonkey:

They will continue to be tough with an unqualified coach.

BM, it's getting cold out so you should go indoors before something freezes off.

I bleed orange but even at the begining of the season I expected that we would be 2-6 with the difference being a possible win over either LSU, GA or SC. That possibility was never realized and here we are. With that being said, progress has been made and for what the program has been through I feel we are on course. Not to say I'm extrememly happy about it but it is what it is. I have confidence this team will continue it's progress and am looking forward to next year. I see no problem with coaching at this stage of the game. This too has shown continual progress.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to RDW:

Mike, please give it a rest on the CBP thing. Are you anti Pearl or not good enough at your profession to find something positive to write about? As for the BrassMonkey, he sounds like an idiot.

Did you fail reading comprehension? I mean, really? There's nothing in that article about him bashing Pearl. All that was mentioned was that there is a big possibility of more penalties and that Pearl is not under contract. Sheesh. If you can't face the truth and handle reading about what is going on, then don't read the news. Simple solution.

RDW writes:

in response to Futurecoach16:

Did you fail reading comprehension? I mean, really? There's nothing in that article about him bashing Pearl. All that was mentioned was that there is a big possibility of more penalties and that Pearl is not under contract. Sheesh. If you can't face the truth and handle reading about what is going on, then don't read the news. Simple solution.

Please tell me you will not be a future UT coach. Just tired of seeing everything repeated ad-nauseum. You do understand the word, don't you?

VOLinAthensGA writes:

Can we please just beat Memphis and party.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Guys, IMHO Mike Strange is one of the best writers we have.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features