John Adams: Vols don't need a poll to tell them where they stand

John Adams

The coaches' preseason poll came and went with little fanfare locally. How's that for a sign of the times?

Past polls have fostered exhilaration or indignation for followers of Tennessee football. At the very least, they sparked debate.

Now, they barely evoke a healthy shrug.

Don't get the wrong idea. The Vols weren't shut out in the USA Today Top 25 poll, which was released Thursday. You could find them listed among "others receiving votes" if you read deeply enough. They had all of three points.

Florida International University had three points, too. It was founded in 1965 and started playing Division I-A football way back in 2002.

Louisiana Tech, which coach Derek Dooley left for Tennessee, had more points than the Vols (10). So did Houston (7) and Southern Mississippi (6) of Conference USA. So did N.C. State (11), UT's first opponent. So did four Florida schools.

Nine SEC schools had more points and Missouri had the same amount of points. Southern California, coached by You Know Who, had 1,385 more points.

The consensus UT reaction to the poll could be summed up with: "What did you expect?"

"We were 5-7 last year," defensive lineman Daniel Hood said after Friday's first preseason practice. "We lost to Kentucky, and we almost lost to Vanderbilt. So I don't think any coach had a reason to put us in there."

He was so convincing that I wanted to retrieve my preseason Associated Press ballot, which listed the Vols at No. 18. Dooley didn't make me feel any better.

"It has been four years since we've been in the top 25," he said. "Why would we get a vote? We've got to go out and prove it."

The players don't stray from that theme. There's no sense of entitlement at a program once regarded as a top-25 regular. The Vols are way past that.

They know where they stand — right alongside Florida International. They know they can't lobby their way into the top 25 or the SEC race. They know the skepticism surrounding the program is founded in facts.

And even as they speak of offseason progress, they realize doubters can't be swayed with words. All the talk you have heard this offseason about UT's improved team chemistry, leadership and work ethic is just that: talk. Think how many teams have delivered the same offseason message before embarking on a disastrous regular season.

It's not just what the Tennessee players say, but how they say it, There's a sense of conviction.

"We'll be better," starting tackle Antonio Richardson said on behalf of his offensive line Thursday. He could have left it at that but didn't.

"I promise," he added.

Keeping that promise will be a daily challenge, beginning with the first practice. Dooley offered an Olympic anecdote for emphasis.

"When Bob Costas asked (swimmer Michael Phelps) what happened (following the narrowest of defeats in the 200 butterfly), he said, 'I wasn't finishing when I was training and it caught up to me today,' " Dooley said. "If you don't train the right way, when it gets to crunch time you're not going to be able to finish it off."

The Vols shouldn't have to hear that from their coach. Last season's finish, replete with second-half collapses, is still very much with them. And each practice is an opportunity to distance themselves from all that went wrong.

Hood was sweating profusely after Friday's practice. He missed spring ball with a shoulder injury and admittedly wasn't pleased with his stamina. So, after practice, he did extra conditioning work, which included 5-, 10- and 15-yard sprints.

Short runs like that might go a long way for a team that didn't need a top-25 poll to realize it's playing catchup.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 51

jack4444 writes:

If Adams senses their conviction, then that's a good sign. You'd know if he didn't.

arkyvol writes:

no, the vols don't need a poll. all they need do is remember the last two games they played. but, hey, we start 0-0, right? dead even with bama, lsu, socal, oklahoma,...

wigmeister writes:

in response to Orange_Gravy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Stupid post!

wigmeister writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

An even more stupid post!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How many points will FU have after they lose at UT?

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

Talk is cheap, the only place to prove it is on the field! Anyone who is ranked out of the top 25 might as well be #26, because if we start out hot we'll be right there in the list. I'm not worried about it, preseason polls are indicative of expectations, not results. We started #3 in 2005... remember how that disaster ended? Oh, and folks don't respond to the trolls, they'd go away if you idiots wouldn't "reply to this post." Cheers, GBO.

agohn writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What are you, 15? You're so cool. It must make you feel so good to come onto a site and bash another team...constantly. What kind of joy do you get out of your non-sensical ramblings? You're the kind of person that seems to get a kick out of spreading hate. Do you not have anything better to do? I would like to take something from Mike and Mike and give you the "just shut-up" award. If you don't like the Vols or Tennessee in general, why are you on this site?

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

in response to agohn:

What are you, 15? You're so cool. It must make you feel so good to come onto a site and bash another team...constantly. What kind of joy do you get out of your non-sensical ramblings? You're the kind of person that seems to get a kick out of spreading hate. Do you not have anything better to do? I would like to take something from Mike and Mike and give you the "just shut-up" award. If you don't like the Vols or Tennessee in general, why are you on this site?

Because people like you take time to respond!!

gc_scvol writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

laraccoon writes:

Adams writes a lousy article so he can announce where he placed the vols in his preseason ballot . . i would in no way shape or form read this garbage if it werent free . and even then i feel like im being over charged .

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to laraccoon:

Adams writes a lousy article so he can announce where he placed the vols in his preseason ballot . . i would in no way shape or form read this garbage if it werent free . and even then i feel like im being over charged .

laraccoon and other Vols,

I sent Adams an e-mail pointing out how he and Jeffy Flowers were very similar............pillars of negativity.

He did in fact reply saying "thanks for noticing."

What a jerk. We shouldn't be too concerned about his prognosis' or his opinions. He and Jeffery, along with the punk kid, Bodeane are all wasted time and space.

Show us a good reporter and good fans and we'll go from there.

agohn writes:

in response to GiveHim6TDTennessee:

Because people like you take time to respond!!

You must be the 15 year olds idiot cousin Gomer. Great post by the way, now put the gimp back in the closet and put the lotion in the basket.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Just do it on the field. A convincing win over NCSt will probably land us in the first poll, and then when we knock the Gaturds our of it in week three (that is, if TAMU doesn't knock them out of it in week two).....

How many votes will we get when we're 4-0?

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

in response to agohn:

You must be the 15 year olds idiot cousin Gomer. Great post by the way, now put the gimp back in the closet and put the lotion in the basket.

I'm a Vol fan, born and bred and I have a great reputation on this board. It just sucks to see people like you and the rest of the fans who feed into their negativity. The reason the Jeffys and Co. stick around is because people take time out of their days to respond. What's the point? They're called trolls for a reason and all they want is a response. Why even acknowledge them? They aren't Vols and they certainly aren't fans so I don't understand why a board that should be comprised of mostly adults acts so childish. Take your post for example, what did it have to do with football? Nothing; just derogatory BS that brings nothing to the table at all. Stick to the name calling and prepubescent jokes while the men cheer on the Vols or maybe if you want to find the real idiot analyze your post.

pingkr62 writes:

Good article. Hopefully we can crack the top 25. That would be a nice change.G.B.O.!!!

laraccoon writes:

my take is that none of these coaches/athletes like Adams or will give him the time of day so he writes this drivel .

chattvol9 writes:

Does anyone know how many of the upperclassmen on La. Tech were recruited by Dooley?

UT4prez writes:

in response to GiveHim6TDTennessee:

I'm a Vol fan, born and bred and I have a great reputation on this board. It just sucks to see people like you and the rest of the fans who feed into their negativity. The reason the Jeffys and Co. stick around is because people take time out of their days to respond. What's the point? They're called trolls for a reason and all they want is a response. Why even acknowledge them? They aren't Vols and they certainly aren't fans so I don't understand why a board that should be comprised of mostly adults acts so childish. Take your post for example, what did it have to do with football? Nothing; just derogatory BS that brings nothing to the table at all. Stick to the name calling and prepubescent jokes while the men cheer on the Vols or maybe if you want to find the real idiot analyze your post.

I agree with you on the name calling phooey. But didn't you do the same thing by calling those that respond idiots? It's late so maybe I read it wrong.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to agohn:

What are you, 15? You're so cool. It must make you feel so good to come onto a site and bash another team...constantly. What kind of joy do you get out of your non-sensical ramblings? You're the kind of person that seems to get a kick out of spreading hate. Do you not have anything better to do? I would like to take something from Mike and Mike and give you the "just shut-up" award. If you don't like the Vols or Tennessee in general, why are you on this site?

In the beginning of WW2 there were many 16 year idiots still in the third grade. you couldn't insult them because they lacked the mentality to understand anything. What you had to do was fill your sock with marbles and when they were on their knees playing Pigs Eye just knock the living H... out of them and run like H. There still are some with that low level mentality, problem is they can hide today.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to chattvol9:

Does anyone know how many of the upperclassmen on La. Tech were recruited by Dooley?

One would assume he signed the 2007, 2008, and 2009 classes there. Their senior class, minus any Jucos or transfers, would be Dooley recruits. With redshirts, there could also be a few RS juniors from that 2009 class, and RS seniors from his 2008 class.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I would have to think hard to find the last time we finished dead last in the SEC at 1-7..A true low point for the program..Can only go up from there..

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Just do it on the field. A convincing win over NCSt will probably land us in the first poll, and then when we knock the Gaturds our of it in week three (that is, if TAMU doesn't knock them out of it in week two).....

How many votes will we get when we're 4-0?

Exactly right. I like the things I'm hearing. Self-aware coaches and players. No need for the B.S.

Through it all, there's nothing wrong here that can't be cured by winning...and it sure sounds like they've been working on what it takes to do that.

Go Vols!

arkyvol writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Just do it on the field. A convincing win over NCSt will probably land us in the first poll, and then when we knock the Gaturds our of it in week three (that is, if TAMU doesn't knock them out of it in week two).....

How many votes will we get when we're 4-0?

a more likely question: how many votes will we get when we're 2-2? (look at the schedule--it may be half the wins for the season)

chattvol9 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

One would assume he signed the 2007, 2008, and 2009 classes there. Their senior class, minus any Jucos or transfers, would be Dooley recruits. With redshirts, there could also be a few RS juniors from that 2009 class, and RS seniors from his 2008 class.

Yeah, I figured that much, but I am sure much like when he came here, I am sure some players left. I would imagine that not nearly as many would leave La. Tech as UT just because of different expectations from the programs, but being the optimistic person I am, I would like to think Dooley had something to do the success, since it is his senior and last year's team did well too, which also would be a core of his recruits. Granted, one might think that another coach had more success with his players than he did, as his record at La. Tech is brought up as a negative against him. But you also would have to remember that when he arrived, La. Tech was a bad team, in the WAC, and much like at UT he inherited more problems than he did talent. This might mean nothing, but maybe one could take the success of his seniors as a sign of good things to come.

UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

How many points will FU have after they lose at UT?

There is no FU @ ut this season. If you were referring to The University of Florida, the answer is:

More than ut. Just like the last seven years.

MilitaryBrat writes:

in response to chattvol9:

Yeah, I figured that much, but I am sure much like when he came here, I am sure some players left. I would imagine that not nearly as many would leave La. Tech as UT just because of different expectations from the programs, but being the optimistic person I am, I would like to think Dooley had something to do the success, since it is his senior and last year's team did well too, which also would be a core of his recruits. Granted, one might think that another coach had more success with his players than he did, as his record at La. Tech is brought up as a negative against him. But you also would have to remember that when he arrived, La. Tech was a bad team, in the WAC, and much like at UT he inherited more problems than he did talent. This might mean nothing, but maybe one could take the success of his seniors as a sign of good things to come.

I agree with your point. A good example is when Jimmy Johnson left Dallas, and Swisher was still able to win with Jimmy's players.

VOL56 writes:

Great article John!

Is Coach Dooley the only SEC coach not on the selection committee?

I notice Bowden coach at Akron is on there - wow how long on the job at Akron for 3 months...

We can change his thoughts in a few weeks - he might just give the VOLS a vote after we destroy the Zips.

The first game with NCS will be the measuring stick for the season!

Keep up the great work some of these trolls on here don't realize what kind of coverage we are getting from you and the KNS.

VFL

chattvol9 writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If I was an assistant coach and saw fans like you who probably gave up after year one, and started calling for his job before giving him a chance, I would get out too.

arkyvol writes:

in response to chattvol9:

If I was an assistant coach and saw fans like you who probably gave up after year one, and started calling for his job before giving him a chance, I would get out too.

if dooley is the next neyland some of you think he is, isn't it fair to compare him with his contemporaries, say like petrino at arkansas, or kiffen at usc? put his results this year against kiffen or where petrino was in his third year. if he comes off badly, can we all agree that he was another example of hamilton's abilities?

BolivrBob writes:

Has Adams posted his predictions?

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

Nothing to see here. The poll at the END of the season is the one that matters. Just go out and win, everything else will fall into place.

arkyvol writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

Nothing to see here. The poll at the END of the season is the one that matters. Just go out and win, everything else will fall into place.

reminds me of the bumper sticker that used to be common in oklahoma: oil wells! if you don't have one, get one.

SevenT writes:

Is there a Bottom 25...That would be a good place for Coach Donothing's team

orangeman1 writes:

in response to chattvol9:

Yeah, I figured that much, but I am sure much like when he came here, I am sure some players left. I would imagine that not nearly as many would leave La. Tech as UT just because of different expectations from the programs, but being the optimistic person I am, I would like to think Dooley had something to do the success, since it is his senior and last year's team did well too, which also would be a core of his recruits. Granted, one might think that another coach had more success with his players than he did, as his record at La. Tech is brought up as a negative against him. But you also would have to remember that when he arrived, La. Tech was a bad team, in the WAC, and much like at UT he inherited more problems than he did talent. This might mean nothing, but maybe one could take the success of his seniors as a sign of good things to come.

You are correct in your assumption it might mean nothing. What LaTech does this year is no reflection of Dooley's coaching abilities. In Dooley's 3rd year at Tech they only won 4 games playing in the WAC. This year is the only year that matter to UT fans now. This year, there wont be any excuses. We have talent, experience, an easier schedule, and depth to compete. I'm expecting no less than 8 wins and to be competitive in the losses. So, all the negative and positive opinions of Dooley dont mean squat right now. UT will have to prove they are top 25 worthy on the field, and we'll find out soon enough. I am surprised that more coaches didnt vote based on the potential that the Vols have this year. It should make some UT fans realize how far the program has fallen, but like I said earlier. This is the year Dooley will be fairly judged as to whether he can coach in the SEC.

chattvol9 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

if dooley is the next neyland some of you think he is, isn't it fair to compare him with his contemporaries, say like petrino at arkansas, or kiffen at usc? put his results this year against kiffen or where petrino was in his third year. if he comes off badly, can we all agree that he was another example of hamilton's abilities?

I guess you can. If you are the type that looks at an apple and an orange wants to compare them.
Most people that want him to stay don't think he is the next Neyland, but most people who want him to stay also are reasonable enough to look at the circumstances he came into and has faced since being here. Most of us are reasonable enough to think that he should at least see his senior class get to play before we cast judgment on his ability to turn around the program. Turning around USC is a lot easier than UT. There's a reason Lane Kiffin bolted in the middle of the night like he did. Even on probation, it's much easier to recruit at USC than it is at UT. And seeing that half of our fan base has never bought in on Dooley, I am amazed that he has been able to recruit the way he does. Fans think kids and recruits aren't on all these stupid message boards, well, they are. Just like coaches leaving, how the heck are we supposed to get the best recruits in if half of our fans are trying to get Dooley fired?
Hopefully he does as well as I think he will do this year and shut you idiots up who think we can just go out and get a Saban, cause there's not one out there, and if there is, he sure as heck isn't coming to a place where no matter what the circumstances, (Injuries, players leaving, A.D.'s leaving, coaches leaving, EXTREMELY hard schedule etc.) the fans want to win and want to win right now, no excuses, blah blah blah. We will just end up with another hire that you probably don't deem worthy of wearing the orange, lose a bunch of people that we have gained to gain some stability, and be worse off than we were when we hired Dooley. If you think the rest of the SEC is laughing at us now, let's hire another coach and go 10 steps back and see how many years it takes to dig ourselves outta that hole.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All LaTech winning would do is reflect Dooley's recruiting ability which I think is already a known fact. I dont know about Tech, but he has done a good job at UT(maybe great-we'll have to wait and see). Other aspects of his coaching are the ones in question. Positioning players, staff adjustments, and game planning is what it takes to win games. I just dont like the whole idea of giving credit to former coaches for how a team performs under a totally different staff. Its also like taking credit away from the current staff. It would be like saying Dooley's 2nd season at Tech when they won 8 games was due to the former coaches recruits. All that matters is how Dooley does this year. He'll either quiet the critics or gain more. I think he'll quiet them and a lot of the Dooley bashers will fade out,then climb back on board. But thats just my opinion.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes we will. Its actually good that other team's coaches underestimate us. We are going to surprise some folks. Its going to be an exciting year.

chattvol9 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

All LaTech winning would do is reflect Dooley's recruiting ability which I think is already a known fact. I dont know about Tech, but he has done a good job at UT(maybe great-we'll have to wait and see). Other aspects of his coaching are the ones in question. Positioning players, staff adjustments, and game planning is what it takes to win games. I just dont like the whole idea of giving credit to former coaches for how a team performs under a totally different staff. Its also like taking credit away from the current staff. It would be like saying Dooley's 2nd season at Tech when they won 8 games was due to the former coaches recruits. All that matters is how Dooley does this year. He'll either quiet the critics or gain more. I think he'll quiet them and a lot of the Dooley bashers will fade out,then climb back on board. But thats just my opinion.

Totally agreed. I just think if this season goes as the last few have, we have to look at the overall season, not just the outcome.If we go through the season and around 90% of our starters are still in tact, meaning we haven't lost them to injury or suspension, and we still have a poor record, then yes, we might need to consider some changes. If at the end of the season, our 3rd string QB has 4 starts and our right tackle is some kid they picked up at Greeve Hall, we probably should look deeper than our final record.
One of the guys earlier said Dooley didn't have credentials, I would highly disagree. Not many coaches have the experience of being an A.D. and a head coach, regardless of the size and results. It's hard for me to care that in his tenure he didn't do well at La. Tech, because who the heck has? It's not like he took over a powerhouse and ran it into the ground. He also has the advantage of being part of that Saban coaching tree, plus growing up as the son of one of the most successful UGA coach doesn't hurt either. I think like you said, most of the bashers will have to eat crow and go back and erase a bunch of post in how bad he is and how they were behind him the whole way. But like you said, it's just an opinion.

manniesghost1903 writes:

I am not concerned about UT being left out of the preseason top 25 or the number of votes they received. Had UT been listed, it would have given support to those with high expectations for this season. An 8 win regular season with a mid-major bowl win is what I expect and will keep Derek Dooley in his position as head coach.

In a perfect world, it would be fitting for Derek Dooley to see his first recruiting class perform as seniors. However, that may not be possible in these times and under the demands of a public who ask "what have you done for me lately?" Coach Dooley and his assistants, in a sense, have their fates in their own hands. They must win and outcoach UT's opponents in at least 8 games and be competitive in the remaining 4 games to maintain stability. Nothing insures job security more than winning.

In this economy, it would be foolish for the Administration and AD Hart to go into this season without setting up some specific goals for Derek Dooley and his staff to meet.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to arkyvol:

if dooley is the next neyland some of you think he is, isn't it fair to compare him with his contemporaries, say like petrino at arkansas, or kiffen at usc? put his results this year against kiffen or where petrino was in his third year. if he comes off badly, can we all agree that he was another example of hamilton's abilities?

Nobody on here thinks Dooley is the next General. Neither Kiffen nor Petrino stepped into a situation similar to what Dooley did. Sure, USC was under sanctions, but they're still USC. They have more prospects within one county than UT does in Tennessee and all of the bordering states! Not only that, there are far fewer Div 1 programs in the Western half of the country, and nearly every player growing up in California dreams of playing for USC. My dead grandmother could sign a top-5 class at USC. Then, on top of that, they play in the PAC 12. They don't have near the competition that SEC teams face.

So far, you can legitimately make some claims about Dooley's recruiting ability, and his off-field leadership, but you can't draw any conclusions from his win-loss record. Too many trolls and/or fools are trying to do that, and it only shows their stupidity.

aspenvol2 writes:

Adams just gets worse and worse. As if he doesn't care, because he has already been told his job will be terminated soon.

ModelMaker writes:

All this is just talk and someone else's opinion. Its time to walk the walk and Tennessee is going to do just that in a couple of more weeks. Tennessee has got a good football team this year. I expect them to do well this year in every game. I think they have as good a shot as anyone else in the East.

arkyvol writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Nobody on here thinks Dooley is the next General. Neither Kiffen nor Petrino stepped into a situation similar to what Dooley did. Sure, USC was under sanctions, but they're still USC. They have more prospects within one county than UT does in Tennessee and all of the bordering states! Not only that, there are far fewer Div 1 programs in the Western half of the country, and nearly every player growing up in California dreams of playing for USC. My dead grandmother could sign a top-5 class at USC. Then, on top of that, they play in the PAC 12. They don't have near the competition that SEC teams face.

So far, you can legitimately make some claims about Dooley's recruiting ability, and his off-field leadership, but you can't draw any conclusions from his win-loss record. Too many trolls and/or fools are trying to do that, and it only shows their stupidity.

you might want to re-think the last two sentences in your post before commenting on other people's stupidity. "...you can't draw any conclusions from his win-loss record." if win-loss is not the criteria, maybe he is robert neyland reincarnate.

laraccoon writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Nobody on here thinks Dooley is the next General. Neither Kiffen nor Petrino stepped into a situation similar to what Dooley did. Sure, USC was under sanctions, but they're still USC. They have more prospects within one county than UT does in Tennessee and all of the bordering states! Not only that, there are far fewer Div 1 programs in the Western half of the country, and nearly every player growing up in California dreams of playing for USC. My dead grandmother could sign a top-5 class at USC. Then, on top of that, they play in the PAC 12. They don't have near the competition that SEC teams face.

So far, you can legitimately make some claims about Dooley's recruiting ability, and his off-field leadership, but you can't draw any conclusions from his win-loss record. Too many trolls and/or fools are trying to do that, and it only shows their stupidity.

couldnt agree more , i think people like arky got their feelings hurt last year when UT lost to Kentucky and didnt get to go to the Music City bowl or some other rinky dink bowl . maybe hitting rock bottom with a big thud will help this team going forward , guess we shall see in a few weeks .

Ayres_Hall writes:

Patience. It all starts on August 31.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to SevenT:

Is there a Bottom 25...That would be a good place for Coach Donothing's team

Poor little baby. Still HIDING, and crying like a babe. You don't know enough about the game to comment, yet you do. Oh well, if you MUST prove your mental shortcomings, please proceed. don't forget to keep those "personalities" straight. You'll be daparting soon enough.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I knew you would throw a temper tantrum, just like your favorite coach, Shrill Muschamp. You both need a little "time-out" to calm down. Some sedatives might help too. I'll bet Muschamp's veins in his neck look like nightcrawlers on game day. Hope your powerhouse team and big-time coach have another mediocre season.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Guess if I were a troll and bashing CDD it would be OK to voice my opinion. That's OK KNS it's your site and you have every right to delete my comments. In case you wondered I hve used the same post name on every comment I have made, guess I'll just have to watch what I'm saying, and not mention the word OPRESSION. GBO...VFL

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