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.''