Legally, Austin Johnson is out of the woods, but his coach didn't see Thursday's decision by the Knox County General Sessions Court as a happy ending.
Johnson, 22, had his charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication dismissed Thursday. The senior linebacker, who was never in danger of being suspended from football activities but faces "internal" punishment, was only required to pay for court costs.
"It's good for him," coach Derek Dooley said after Thursday's practice at Haslam Field. "It doesn't change the headline that we all had.
"If we could go back three days and just erase everything (media outlets) wrote, it'd be great news but we can't do that."
A Knox County clerk could not provide a dollar figure for what Johnson owed because he paid it immediately and it was no longer in the court's database.
According to police, Johnson was arrested early July 24 after an altercation with an unidentified male in the back parking lot of Tin Roof at 1915 Cumberland Ave. Johnson also was seen hitting vehicles, according to the police report.
On Tuesday, in his first interview since the incident, Johnson said he wouldn't discuss the details of the police report, but added that "some of the stuff that was said is not necessarily what I was doing."
"I should have never put myself in that situation," Johnson said Tuesday. "I should have never been out that late. I'm extremely embarrassed. I embarrassed my team, I embarrassed the fans, I embarrassed my family and I embarrassed my coaches. I've learned from my mistakes.
"I plan to move forward and become a better person from this."
Dooley said he wasn't surprised by the verdict because Johnson "told me that there wasn't going to be much legally."
"That doesn't mean it's OK what he did. I've always said that," Dooley said. "Sometimes they get off legally and I think they're wrong. Sometimes they get in a little trouble legally and I think they didn't do anything wrong.
"That's why I guess I'm not a policeman or a lawyer anymore or a politician."