Think of all the money Tennessee has saved on Heisman Trophy campaigns the past two years.
Heisman Trophy campaign expenditures for 2010: 0.
Heisman Trophy expenditures for 2011: 0.
That's not intended to point out the absence of superstars in the UT football program. I'm merely noting that the program should have surplus funds.
Since there's no newly fired coach to pay off, I have a suggestion on how the money should be spent. The Vols need to promote running backs. Not the ones they have; the ones they don't have.
Rent billboards throughout the Southeast. Advertise with ESPNU. Use social media.
It's imperative they let it be known that they not only care about running the football; they have a history of it. Otherwise, recruits might not be able to see past UT's stats, which suggest the team would have as good of a chance of putting a running back on the moon as into an opponent's secondary.
The Vols ranked 116th out of 120 teams in rushing in 2011. They averaged 90.1 yards per game and 2.8 yards per rush.
You might conclude from those numbers that Tennessee could have improved its rushing attack by simply having 6-foot-6 quarterback Tyler Bray attempt to fall forward on each play. You also might conclude that running back recruits would be more horrified watching video of UT's offense than a "Saw" film festival.
It's incumbent on the Vols to inform recruits that the past season was an aberration. Never mind that the program has been known as Wide Receiver U. and Peyton Manning U. UT actually has a long, storied history with future NFL running backs.
Now, more than ever, the Vols need to update that history.
Whatever shortcomings the Vols have, running back is the most paramount. Imagine what
a Trent Richardson or Marcus Lattimore would do for UT's offense
Maybe young running backs like Marlin Lane and Tom Smith will develop. Developing is one thing. Turning into a running back who could transform an entire offense is something else.
You might argue that UT's uncertainty at the position could be a selling point, something like: "Show up and start." I used to think that way. But today's best running backs seem too savvy to yield to the temptation. They're more drawn to an offense that repeatedly punches holes in an opposing defense, and are perhaps more aware of the limited longevity inherent in the position.
Alabama recruited Richardson to play behind Mark Ingram. It recruited running back Eddie Lacy the same year it signed Richardson.
These guys seem content to wait their turn and are more interested in yards per carry than yards. How else can you explain why LSU now has four running backs who could have started for the Vols?
Tennessee once had future NFL running backs waiting in line. Jamal Lewis almost set a single-season NFL rushing record in 2003. Arian Foster led the NFL in rushing last season.
UT needs to educate recruits to that history.