Mike Strange: Vols back in the real world after week at Milligan

Mike Strange

The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the hill. Haslam Field could not have looked more immaculate Thursday evening.

After a week at Milligan College, Tennessee's football team came back to the real world Thursday.

And just in time to address some serious business. The Vols will hold their last major scrimmage of the preseason today.

"We ran on the field and grass is as green as ever,'' said linebacker Curt Maggitt. "It's a good feeling to be back home.''

The sentiment was unanimous. But not because anything was wrong with Milligan. Coach Derek Dooley pronounced the off-campus experiment a resounding success.

"I'm not sure there's anything we could have done differently that could have made it better,'' Dooley said. "And I've got no complaint with our team's approach, how they handled it and some of the benefits that came out of it.''

How did they handle it?

There were no bright lights of Cumberland Avenue beckoning. No girlfriends. And no jet skis.

"We hustled and tussled around,'' said senior Steven Fowlkes. "We had the funniest talent show I've seen since I've been here.''

Well, you can't have a talent show every night.

"My free time, I was in the training room,'' said Maggitt.

Defensive lineman Corey Miller couldn't come up with any inventive diversions to pass the nights in the dorms at Milligan.

Relax. Chill. Shoot the breeze. Video games.

Except for the video games, it sounds like Mayberry. And even in Mayberry these days, I'll bet Opie would have a couple of video games.

"It wasn't nothing much to miss for me,'' Miller said. "Outside of football I don't do much.''

Going away to camp is not unprecedented among college teams, but it is unusual. NFL teams do it annually, but it wasn't his stint with the Miami Dolphins that inspired Dooley.

It was Clarke Central High School back in Athens, Ga. Every summer for a week the Gladiators loaded on the school busses and traveled six hours on the two-lane highways to Jekyll Island, Ga.

"I told the (Vols) that when I get back with my old high school buddies, that's the first thing we talk about,'' Dooley said. "Jekyll Island.

"And I think it helped us. We went 52-4 in four years and I think that was a big reason for it.''

If the Vols felt deprived at Milligan, they should have seen Jekyll.

"It was miserable,'' Dooley said. "These guys have no idea.''

Six guys in a room on two double beds and a sofa bed. Laundry was not in the equation.

"We never washed our clothes,'' Dooley said. "We never washed our uniforms. Think about that.

"Staph infections going everywhere. Your pants, after your last practice, you could stand 'em up.''

Staph infections going everywhere? Now we know where Dooley got on his shower-discipline kick.

But back to the Vols. They were relieved to get home Wednesday night, eager to sleep in their own beds.

Thursday, they emerged from their Milligan cocoons. It was time to move into campus housing and realize that the first day of class is bearing down.

"There were a lot of mental mistakes out there today,'' Dooley said.

But they'll have Milligan stories to tell in the days and years to come.

"I feel like we came back a new team,'' said Fowlkes.

"We're more together and that's what it's going to take for us to win.''

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 17

Rumblefish writes:

I sincerely hope the new sod on Haslam Field doesnt lean towards turned ankles or worse!

BMSvol writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

I sincerely hope the new sod on Haslam Field doesnt lean towards turned ankles or worse!

thats the fear and doubt attitude kiffen instilled.

this team has moved beyond that.

the fans should too

tovolny writes:

Did the team not move into their new quarters? I was under the impression that going to Milligan was for the purpose of moving into the new football complex. I must have dreamed about stuff. Anyway, I am cofused. Whuuuppp!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Maggit spent his free time training...now that's what I'm talking about.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

I sincerely hope the new sod on Haslam Field doesnt lean towards turned ankles or worse!

Agreed!!Based on Dooley's move to a 2 scrimmage format; He's got some injury concerns..This team seems to have some great momentum going that could only be stopped by a hamstring;high ankle or the dreaded Achilles injury.We have found Lathers is not easily replaced;nor is Rodgers;Hunter;Bray or our center

CrankE writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maggit spent his free time training...now that's what I'm talking about.

word

UTVOL2001 writes:

in response to CrankE:

word

WORD!

crappieking writes:

in response to BMSvol:

thats the fear and doubt attitude kiffen instilled.

this team has moved beyond that.

the fans should too

Some users consider this comment inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

Please. Kiffin is twice the head coach Dooley is, and 10x a better game day coach. If he was still here, we would be competing for a National Chamionship, like he will be this year at USC. And if that was the case, the doolaid drinkers would be cheering and praising him all the way. Not saying absurd comments like "he would have us on probation" Pathetic. The bar has been lowered almost to the ground.

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maggit spent his free time training...now that's what I'm talking about.

Our Vols are not professionals yet, but a few are developing habits that professionals do. Maggitt has the "want-to" and is one of a half dozen or so players who plan to make their living playing football. I love to watch him play. go Vols!

615VOL writes:

Looks like the trolls are out again...

sameolvolalum writes:

in response to 615VOL:

Looks like the trolls are out again...

Clicking the "Suggest removal" line is your vote to remove those annoying trolls. Have you voted yet? GBO!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Maggit spent his free time training...now that's what I'm talking about.

I sorta took it as being in the training room getting hopefully minor hurts tended to. I hope he meant, as you apparently did, that he was in the weight room shoving iron around.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That was a good article..Thumbs Up..

usafvol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

That was a good article..Thumbs Up..

Sounds like a threesome with the way you guys are slobbering all over eachother..

usafvol writes:

in response to crappieking:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

Please. Kiffin is twice the head coach Dooley is, and 10x a better game day coach. If he was still here, we would be competing for a National Chamionship, like he will be this year at USC. And if that was the case, the doolaid drinkers would be cheering and praising him all the way. Not saying absurd comments like "he would have us on probation" Pathetic. The bar has been lowered almost to the ground.

Trollking; could it be that you have a man crush on Lame?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to usafvol:

Sounds like a threesome with the way you guys are slobbering all over eachother..

I guess that went way out in the wild blue yonder over your head?

Navaloranges writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh, you mean what crappieking said. In that case, you DID say it.

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