John Adams: Tennessee football is due a run of good luck

Multiple shortcomings have factored into Tennessee’s recent football struggles.

Sometimes, it lacked offense. Sometimes, it lacked defense.

And sometimes, it lacked both.

But something else also was missing during UT’s three consecutive seven-loss seasons, which prompted a coaching change from Derek Dooley to Butch Jones. Dooley had wretched luck.

And his misfortune might bode well for Jones. Assuming a program’s good and bad breaks really do even out over the course of time, Jones has three lucky years coming to him.

One unfavorable bounce merely led to another for Dooley.

The most obvious example of that came in his first season when the Vols lost a game they seemingly had won against LSU.

UT players and coaches actually celebrated the victory before officials stepped in with the bad news and awarded LSU another play after time had expired.

The loss to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl almost was as bizarre as the defeat to LSU. The combination was devastating.

The Dooley era also was impacted by serious injuries to some of his best players.

Dooley was unlucky in another area, too. Some of his most talented players — not all of whom he recruited — were his least dependable players. Their talent raised expectations but did little to fulfill them.

On teams lacking in talent, Dooley probably couldn’t bear to lose what talent he had. But the way he handled those troublesome, talented players hardly helped him with the rest of the team.

Two of Dooley’s most gifted players were running back Bryce Brown and defensive back Janzen Jackson, both of whom former UT coach Lane Kiffin left behind after his one-year run in Knoxville.

Brown, who was the nation’s No. 1 running back the year Kiffin signed him, qualifies as one of the most puzzling Vols of all-time. He sat out spring practice and never played a down for Dooley. He just hung around long enough to make you wonder what in the world was going on — with him and Dooley.

Dooley got one productive season out of Jackson, but it wasn’t productive enough to offset all the negative headlines he engendered before he was finally kicked off the team.

Wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, a Dooley recruit, was another great athlete who caused more problems than he was worth. Like Jackson, he was dismissed from the team after one good season.

Rogers was the perfect receiver for quarterback Tyler Bray, who had a great arm but was terribly lacking in virtually every

other attribute that you associate with a position as demanding as quarterback.

When Bray wasn’t in the act of throwing, his on-the-field body language was awful. His off-the-field image was worse.

Unlike Dooley, Jones didn’t inherit a quarterback with Bray’s supposed potential.

The previous coach didn’t leave him a running back with Brown’s ability, either.

And there might not be anyone in Jones’ secondary who can hit as hard while covering as much ground as Jackson.

Without them, Jones is already luckier than he realizes.

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.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 78

ccjs writes:

Luck? No how about some talent, willingness to give all, and great coaching?

tovolny writes:

John, I like what you said and I like how you said it. I never met Dooley other than a walk by hand shake. I loved his mother and we all know his Dad was a pretty good guy. I cannot remember a team or a coach dealing with such bad luck and odd (but good) players.

Again John, good job.

BayardDonahoo writes:

A refreshing article.

Thanks.

RoadTrip writes:

I don't understand the point of this article other than to rehash the negatives of a lost three years of UT football and to be happy the culprits are gone. Is this what they call filler?

JA tells us how lucky Jones is that the riff raff is gone. Yep, Dools needed to go. Loser. The bad boys would never have been recruited if Jones had been here. Had they snuck through his vetting process, they would have been cut from the team way before they became lasting distractions.

Can we quit wasting space and get busy with the current roster and coaching staff?

arkyvol writes:

those of us who pointed out that dooley had exactly zero credentials for the job were damned as 'haters' and fair weather vols by people who wouldn't know a real coach if he bit them in the you know where. it turned out pretty much as we predicted (for the first time in Tennessee history, three back to back losing seasons). adams, you are entirely too easy on him. don't worry about his feelings. the loot he hauled away on the way out is more than enough to salve that.

MetroplexMojo writes:

Successful people make their own luck

Dooley wasn't unlucky..he was a horrible coach. No amount of luck would have changed that

DawgDayAfternoon writes:

"Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity", John. With another head coach, Jones, with zero major college experience there won't be much of that to go around. Face the ugly truth. It's 4-8 or 5-7.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

"Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity", John. With another head coach, Jones, with zero major college experience there won't be much of that to go around. Face the ugly truth. It's 4-8 or 5-7.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Hey, Jeffy? Wake us if and when you ever say something worth noting, OK?

Snapshot writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

"Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity", John. With another head coach, Jones, with zero major college experience there won't be much of that to go around. Face the ugly truth. It's 4-8 or 5-7.

Come on benchwarmer, is that the best you can do? Weak....

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

"Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity", John. With another head coach, Jones, with zero major college experience there won't be much of that to go around. Face the ugly truth. It's 4-8 or 5-7.

Dawg SH?T in the Afternoon,

Do you need to be neutered or do you need a distemper shot?

Either way, look forward to being one of BUTCH'S B!TCHES you old mangy MUTT!!!!

wayne.kearney#1414428 writes:

The past is the past a little ruff of a past but it is over a done with. So much ready for the future starting this year. GO VOLS

NowHearThis writes:

Luck? Did you say UT was due some luck?

I have one name for you: Clint Stoerner

UT used up a whole century of luck on one play.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

in response to NowHearThis:

Luck? Did you say UT was due some luck?

I have one name for you: Clint Stoerner

UT used up a whole century of luck on one play.

Horse hockey. Luck had nothing to do with it. Dust off the VCR and look at the tape.

Stoerner stumbled because he tripped over Brandon Burlsworth's foot. He tripped over Burlsworth because Burlsworth was pushed so far into the backfield by Billy Ratliff.

Good teams make their own luck.

ColdBlackWind writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

Horse hockey. Luck had nothing to do with it. Dust off the VCR and look at the tape.

Stoerner stumbled because he tripped over Brandon Burlsworth's foot. He tripped over Burlsworth because Burlsworth was pushed so far into the backfield by Billy Ratliff.

Good teams make their own luck.

We need an entire team made up of players with a heart the size of Billy Ratliff's. "Don't take your hat off Tee. We are going to get you the ball back and win this thing." No luck there. Grit, determination, ability and blood that ran Orange. Might be the greatest play in Tennessee football history. Go Vols!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

Horse hockey. Luck had nothing to do with it. Dust off the VCR and look at the tape.

Stoerner stumbled because he tripped over Brandon Burlsworth's foot. He tripped over Burlsworth because Burlsworth was pushed so far into the backfield by Billy Ratliff.

Good teams make their own luck.

You are dead right. When the offense came off the field on the previous possession, everybody in the stadium thought the game was over -- except Ratliff! He told the offense not to sit down or take their helmets off, because they were going to get the ball back. The offense took him up on it. None of them sat down or took their helmet off. Ratliff was a man of his word. Not only did he cause the fumble, he also recovered it. I don't know this for sure, but if I were a betting man, I would bet that game ball went to Billy.

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

Turn one or two of those "bad luck" losses Dooley had into wins, he would still be here. Hopefully he's doing fine, but I for one, am glad he's gone

GO VOLS!!

WaltGoVoIs writes:

Napoleon preferred luck to brilliance. Dooley had neither.

Walt

UT '81

Tennfan4075 writes:

I have never believed in a great amount of luck on the field, because almost all good things occurring on the field are due to great preparation by good players and coaches, but with that being said, for the Vols to make-up for the failures (both by coaches and players) of the past 5 years the Powerball odds seem good.

vol98champ writes:

The only comment that I can think of as appropriate for the last 5 years is "thank God and Greyhound they're gone".

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

John Adams, I think it's going to rain today too.. that's also irrelevant for a topic.

Can you possibly just report on the team, it's players or opponents and leave all this fortune telling (which takes no facts that you have to dig for), up to the Gypsies?

dvols writes:

Oregon, florida, Georgia, Alabama, south Carolina,

please luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EastTnVols962 writes:

in response to Fall_Creek_Vols:

Horse hockey. Luck had nothing to do with it. Dust off the VCR and look at the tape.

Stoerner stumbled because he tripped over Brandon Burlsworth's foot. He tripped over Burlsworth because Burlsworth was pushed so far into the backfield by Billy Ratliff.

Good teams make their own luck.

I agree that Ratliff caused the chain reaction that led to the fumble, but I have NEVER seen a QB try to catch himself with the ball like that. Regardless of the stumble, he just handed us that ball. Yes, Ratliff should be credited, but there was a lot of luck involved in that as well.

EastTnVols962 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

You are dead right. When the offense came off the field on the previous possession, everybody in the stadium thought the game was over -- except Ratliff! He told the offense not to sit down or take their helmets off, because they were going to get the ball back. The offense took him up on it. None of them sat down or took their helmet off. Ratliff was a man of his word. Not only did he cause the fumble, he also recovered it. I don't know this for sure, but if I were a betting man, I would bet that game ball went to Billy.

I would have loved to have been in his head for that play. The sheer determination was absolutely incredible. THAT is what champions do.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

"Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity", John. With another head coach, Jones, with zero major college experience there won't be much of that to go around. Face the ugly truth. It's 4-8 or 5-7.

Hey Dawg when the mutts make it nine in a row get back with us, OK? Otherwise, they are irrelevant to us. All that talent yet they haven't sniffed a championship in how long?

ctwins writes:

Football as in life, You make your own "luck." We are never "due" anything.....

underthehill writes:

in response to WaltGoVoIs:

Napoleon preferred luck to brilliance. Dooley had neither.

Walt

UT '81

So ..If bama Dave forced Sunseri on Dooley..who is worse..I agree with those who say ..it's time to move on past the Dooley phooey..ignore bama Dave..pull for the Vols..again..I hope you and G OP get it right about 8 wins..

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

I don't understand the point of this article other than to rehash the negatives of a lost three years of UT football and to be happy the culprits are gone. Is this what they call filler?

JA tells us how lucky Jones is that the riff raff is gone. Yep, Dools needed to go. Loser. The bad boys would never have been recruited if Jones had been here. Had they snuck through his vetting process, they would have been cut from the team way before they became lasting distractions.

Can we quit wasting space and get busy with the current roster and coaching staff?

Just a slow sports day mind friend; which explains all the articles over the summer that are just rehashes of previous articles..I don't envy the staff during summer dead periods but if Iam a writer I would do numerous series of past Vol teams like Neylands unbeaten,unscored on team..Maybe Bowden Wyatt era and my favorite Vol teams under Battle 69 thru 71. I think VFL's would love it..Simple concept and I think it shows badly these writers laziness and lack of creativity

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

A proven system will win and a proven system with great talent will win a lot..GBO!!

BadBrad writes:

It is obvious to me that most that comment on here have neither played much organized football or coached. I have done both: as a player, I played on championship teams and teams that made UT's last three look like something to aspire to; as a coach, I've NEVER had a losing season, no matter what I had to work with!(my credentials to comment)
I think Dooley's problem was he was a descent strategist and recruiter, but was a horrible leader of "people". Though I am no longer at the school, it was SO OBVIOUS to me from television's distance that HE DID NOT CONNECT WITH THE KIDS!!!
The ONE THING DOOLEY DID DO RIGHT was something that hasn't been done by too many UT coaches in any of their sports: He cleaned up the program by getting rid of the "thugs"! Of the major visible sports, only the Lady Vols Basketball team has kept its nose clean for more than 5 years! I could name a lot of "winning coaches" that "won" games, but sent the program as a whole into troubles with their lack of personal discipline and that of the "self-entitled punks" that played for them!
Dooley did have some luck (both good and bad), but a bad call or two and primarily HIS POOR PEOPLE SKILLS (coach to player) HURT HIM MORE THAN ANYTHING! I am one that is glad he came (to clean up Tennessee Football), but I'm also glad he's gone!
Coach Jones, I wish all good luck and pray you have the skills Mr. Dooley did not.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

I have to admit Dooley's team seemed snake bit to me..No doubt big players should play big time when the game is on the line but during those comeback drives against GA and SC I just felt bad luck and bad plays were bound to rear it's head..Who knows what kind of shot in the arm confidence the team might have had by beating LSU and Bama when the game was all but in the bag. Palardy getting a second kick blocked was inexcusable and the LSU play isn't much better

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to EastTnVols962:

I agree that Ratliff caused the chain reaction that led to the fumble, but I have NEVER seen a QB try to catch himself with the ball like that. Regardless of the stumble, he just handed us that ball. Yes, Ratliff should be credited, but there was a lot of luck involved in that as well.

I disagree, had Stoerner been sacked (not fumbled) and punted the ball away. UT would have scored (regardless of field position) on their next possession. The "luck" was in the first game against Syracuse when a questionable pass interference call saved the day for UT on the road with Big East officials.

GerryOP writes:

in response to underthehill:

So ..If bama Dave forced Sunseri on Dooley..who is worse..I agree with those who say ..it's time to move on past the Dooley phooey..ignore bama Dave..pull for the Vols..again..I hope you and G OP get it right about 8 wins..

I hope so too! Every game is winnable.

brokendownoldvol writes:

It seemed the ball always bounced Bear Bryant's way. Some called it luck . I say great coaching makes you lucky.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to BadBrad:

It is obvious to me that most that comment on here have neither played much organized football or coached. I have done both: as a player, I played on championship teams and teams that made UT's last three look like something to aspire to; as a coach, I've NEVER had a losing season, no matter what I had to work with!(my credentials to comment)
I think Dooley's problem was he was a descent strategist and recruiter, but was a horrible leader of "people". Though I am no longer at the school, it was SO OBVIOUS to me from television's distance that HE DID NOT CONNECT WITH THE KIDS!!!
The ONE THING DOOLEY DID DO RIGHT was something that hasn't been done by too many UT coaches in any of their sports: He cleaned up the program by getting rid of the "thugs"! Of the major visible sports, only the Lady Vols Basketball team has kept its nose clean for more than 5 years! I could name a lot of "winning coaches" that "won" games, but sent the program as a whole into troubles with their lack of personal discipline and that of the "self-entitled punks" that played for them!
Dooley did have some luck (both good and bad), but a bad call or two and primarily HIS POOR PEOPLE SKILLS (coach to player) HURT HIM MORE THAN ANYTHING! I am one that is glad he came (to clean up Tennessee Football), but I'm also glad he's gone!
Coach Jones, I wish all good luck and pray you have the skills Mr. Dooley did not.

You claim to have coached (what level) are we talking about?? I'm certain it wasn't SEC or D1/NFL coaching, so it's not fair to critique someone you coached below. Dooley was in over his head at UT, I supported him because he was hired. However, he was never my first choice to replace Kiffin (nor was Kiffin) my first choice to replace Fulmer. You pull for your team regardless who the coach is. And anyone criticizing another coaches' style is still being a Monday Morning QB. Sorry, but your rant (may be legit) but you come off as an egotistical JA that would never admit fault (even if proven wrong).

CoverOrange writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I disagree, had Stoerner been sacked (not fumbled) and punted the ball away. UT would have scored (regardless of field position) on their next possession. The "luck" was in the first game against Syracuse when a questionable pass interference call saved the day for UT on the road with Big East officials.

Hey BB, I don't remember the details but wasn't that fumble on second down, thus a sack would have allowed a couple of more plays Arky to run off another minute and a punt would have added 30-40 yards. Even if 3rd down another 30 seconds goes by. The luck was Ark OC calling a roll out pass when trying to run out the clock.

What people don't realize is the difference of that one play was an undefeated season, we still would have been in the BCS game and won it due to all the other upsets later in the season. Rather have the NC than an undefeated season ala Auburn 2004.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to EastTnVols962:

I agree that Ratliff caused the chain reaction that led to the fumble, but I have NEVER seen a QB try to catch himself with the ball like that. Regardless of the stumble, he just handed us that ball. Yes, Ratliff should be credited, but there was a lot of luck involved in that as well.

I saw a UT QB do that same thing in the late 70s, at the one yard line no less. I don't think it was Randy Wallace, maybe Jeff Olszewski (sp?)?

antonio14313 writes:

in response to ColdBlackWind:

We need an entire team made up of players with a heart the size of Billy Ratliff's. "Don't take your hat off Tee. We are going to get you the ball back and win this thing." No luck there. Grit, determination, ability and blood that ran Orange. Might be the greatest play in Tennessee football history. Go Vols!

the greatest play in tennessee football history? arguably so. the most important play in tennessee football history? DEFINITELY!!! :)

go vols!

t

antonio14313 writes:

the days of picking on our Vols are coming to an end...

GO VOLS!

t

jfrancispe writes:

in response to NowHearThis:

Luck? Did you say UT was due some luck?

I have one name for you: Clint Stoerner

UT used up a whole century of luck on one play.

Could have been luck, a great play by the defense or just flat out being fortunate - take your pick:

'Cuse pass interference call

Stoerner coughing up the ball

Facing a redshirt freshman (if I recall correctly) QB in the National Championship game
who liked to throw the ball to UT defenders (priceless)

rbwtn writes:

When it comes down to it We know nothing about how our new coach is going to do but we love to assume. I had forgotten about loosing to LSU when we actually won the game. Bottom-line lets be fair We have No Ideal how we're going to do this year but I will say; because of videos being used by GoVolsXtra it has given me a closeness to the team that I never had before. To see the front defensive & offensive line was frankly awe inspiring and even better, there are a bunch of good kids with a good coach. Prediction; A Big upset is on the way Who will it be? Time will Tell. Watch out here come Big Orange!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Hey BB, I don't remember the details but wasn't that fumble on second down, thus a sack would have allowed a couple of more plays Arky to run off another minute and a punt would have added 30-40 yards. Even if 3rd down another 30 seconds goes by. The luck was Ark OC calling a roll out pass when trying to run out the clock.

What people don't realize is the difference of that one play was an undefeated season, we still would have been in the BCS game and won it due to all the other upsets later in the season. Rather have the NC than an undefeated season ala Auburn 2004.

I thought it was 3rd down, but no matter they would have received the ball and scored whether running or passing the ball. Because Arky was a deer in headlights while UT was cramming the ball down their throat. The A&M upset of KSU may have been the most fortunate thing to occur that season, and ironically it was 5th year senior Brandon Stewart leading the way for A&M. That year he sat out transferring to A&M helped UT land a spot in the BCSCG.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to antonio14313:

the days of picking on our Vols are coming to an end...

GO VOLS!

t

I feel the same way..It may be intuition or just my hoping that's the case, but one things for certain they are better prepared going into a season now than anytime in the previous four..GBO!!

brokendownoldvol writes:

Any word on Vereen's injury?

brokendownoldvol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I saw a UT QB do that same thing in the late 70s, at the one yard line no less. I don't think it was Randy Wallace, maybe Jeff Olszewski (sp?)?

I was at that game it was that kid from California Steve Allatore(sp).

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ColdBlackWind:

We need an entire team made up of players with a heart the size of Billy Ratliff's. "Don't take your hat off Tee. We are going to get you the ball back and win this thing." No luck there. Grit, determination, ability and blood that ran Orange. Might be the greatest play in Tennessee football history. Go Vols!

I knew Billy slightly when he was at UT. Not many remember today that there was considerable doubt about his academic qualifications for a scholarship, but he was finally admitted, hung with it, and I think he got his degree. He also was considerably hampered by injuries in his career. His play during the national championship was key for the Vols all season, not just on the fumble. He was a great VFL and a really nice guy to boot.

bUTch_please writes:

If the belly crawler hadn't ended that game by yanking a 38 yarder, the fumble wouldn't even be a discussion. But, he did and opened the door for the greatest play in the championship run. Good break on both.

EastTnVols962 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I saw a UT QB do that same thing in the late 70s, at the one yard line no less. I don't think it was Randy Wallace, maybe Jeff Olszewski (sp?)?

That was a bit before my time. I'd say that play has been used many times to show a QB what not to do in that situation haha.

MetroplexMojo writes:

A lot of other SEC schools have had luck in their recent BCS tourney seasons

06 - Florida won due to the BS call on Mapu taking the Pick 6 off the board against UT

07 - LSU needed a 4 TD underdog to beat West Virginia to get into the BCS game

08 - Florida was lucky enough to lose to Ole Miss and still make the national title game

09 - Mt. Cody's ummmmm....chest ...Nuff said

10 - The NCAA didn't find the $$$ related to $cam Newton. Bama guy also slipped in that game heading into the endzone which led to Bama going up 24-0 instead of 28-0. Those 4 points were the difference.

11 - Bama was lucky enough to make the BCS national title game although they didnt even win their division

12 - Bama was lucky enough to have Iowa State knock K-State off

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Just a slow sports day mind friend; which explains all the articles over the summer that are just rehashes of previous articles..I don't envy the staff during summer dead periods but if Iam a writer I would do numerous series of past Vol teams like Neylands unbeaten,unscored on team..Maybe Bowden Wyatt era and my favorite Vol teams under Battle 69 thru 71. I think VFL's would love it..Simple concept and I think it shows badly these writers laziness and lack of creativity

I think interesting concept would be a countdown. You know how they have countdown to opening Saturday and highlight players who wore the same number as the number of days left? Well, how about a brief history of the team from the year? One possibility would be start with the 2000 team when there are 100 days to go, then spend the Summer reviewing each season. You'd get all the way back to the 1901 season doing that.

clemvol writes:

If you are going to rely on luck to change your fortune then keep buying lottery tickets.If you really want to change your direction then nothing and i mean nothing will talke the place of good old fashioned focus, practice, and choices. Bottom line is if your opponent is better than you then all you can do is your best. If you are on same playing level then who wants it the most. If you are better than your opponent then their is no excuse. Luck, good or bad has nothing to do with it.Now, get with it, get on it and hammer home.

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