The high points came early on the University of Tennessee football 2011 calendar.
It wasn't necessarily all downhill after Signing Day. Optimism was still rampant in mid-September, when the Vols boarded their flight for Gainesville, Fla.
All did not end well, however. It was largely a downhill run from The Swamp to Commonwealth Stadium.
Here's a recap of the top 10 stories in UT football for 2011.
1. Disaster in Lexington: The Streak had to end sometime, but 2011 didn't figure to be the year when Kentucky lined up with receiver Matt Roark playing quarterback. The Wildcats pulled the upset, 10-7, against an uninspired, ineffective Tennessee offense that managed only 276 yards. No bowl for the 5-7 Vols, only idle weeks for disgruntled fans to rehash their misery with the state of the program.
2. Hunter Out: It looked like the sky was the limit for sophomore receiver Justin Hunter. He had amassed 314 yards in the Vols' wins over Montana and Cincinnati. Then he tore up his knee on the first series at Florida on Sept. 17 and was done for the year. In essence, so was the UT offense.
3. Quarterback Shuffle: Tyler Bray's stock was soaring with Hunter's, even through the Buffalo game on Oct. 1. Then he fractured a finger on his right hand late in a loss to Georgia on Oct. 8.
With first Matt Simms and then true freshman Justin Worley at the helm, the offense struggled mightily. The Vols went 10 quarters without a touchdown at one point and won only once, over Middle Tennessee State.
Bray returned for the Vandy and Kentucky games, but he wasn't as sharp.
4. Da'Visive: Da'Rick Rogers made a case as UT's top talent, turning in an All-SEC season at receiver. However, reports of attitude issues permeated the post-Kentucky meltdown. Rogers enters 2012 under a cloud of controversy. Is he still a Vol in good standing or not?
5. Jackson Strikes Out: Safety Janzen Jackson lived on the edge but was talented enough for coach Derek Dooley to issue second and third chances.
Jackson, arguably UT's best defender, finally got the boot in August, necessitating a shuffle in the secondary. He played 2011 in obscurity at McNeese State.
6. No Rushing Here: There was great anticipation for a potent running game in preseason. UT's offensive linemen talked of a 2,000-yard campaign for senior Tauren Poole.
Nobody walked the walk, however. UT finished 116th in the nation in rushing offense at 90 yards a game. There were minus-yardage efforts against Florida and Georgia and a 35-yard day against South Carolina. Given one last chance at redemption the Vols managed only 61 yards in the debacle at Kentucky.
Poole finished with 693 yards, or 1,307 short of 2,000.
7. Overtime Hero: Nashville product Eric Gordon provided one of the few November highlights. His interception and 90-yard return for a touchdown in overtime delivered a 27-21 win over Vanderbilt.
The last thing the program needed by that point was losing to Vandy.
8. Signing Day: Dooley's second signing day at UT was cause to celebrate in February.
The Vols won some important late recruiting battles to add Cameron Clear, Antonio Richardson, Curt Maggitt and Byron Moore to an already solid class.
Maggitt, fellow linebacker A.J. Johnson and safety Brian Randolph would turn out to be starters and SEC All-Freshman picks, as was January enrollee Marcus Jackson.
9. NCAA Rulings: When the NCAA announced its sanctions in August after a two-year probe, football escaped major punishment.
The Committee on Infractions largely accepted UT's self-imposed penalties and didn't drop the hammer on the potentially serious allegation of the Orange Pride hostesses recruiting off campus.
10. Welcome Mizzou: Tennessee will have two more competitors for an SEC title in 2012. Missouri will be an annual opponent in the Eastern Division. There's no telling when the Vols will finally visit West addition Texas A&M in the 14-team conference.