John Adams: Reasons for football, men's basketball, baseball teams to be optimistic

John Adams

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A Tennessee fan in his 20s recently raised a question about his program’s 1998 national championship in football.

He wondered if it might have come with strings attached.

“It’s as though we made a deal with the devil and we’ve been paying for it ever since,” he said. “I’d just like to see us be good in one men’s sport again.

“Even if it’s track.”

I didn’t dash his hopes by mentioning that the UT men’s team had just finished tied for 11th in the SEC track and field championships.

But it does have a number of contributors returning. It should be better next season.

Fortunately for UT fans, you could say the same for sports they actually will pay to see. In fact, the Vols have set themselves up for improvement.

The football team hasn’t been to a bowl the past two years. The basketball team hasn’t made the past two NCAA tournaments. And the baseball team seems entrenched at or near the bottom of the SEC.

Against that backdrop, it’s not unreasonable to assume UT’s next school year could be an improvement over the last two.

You might contend that the next football team will be less equipped than its 5-7 predecessor to face another daunting schedule. But some 5-7 seasons are better than others.

There’s no doubt new coach Butch Jones has energized the program. He’s also off to a great start toward the next recruiting class.

If the next team loses seven or eight games, fans still could be more optimistic about the direction of the program.

Baseball optimism could be harder to come by. But even at that failed endeavor, Tennessee should be improved.

Starting pitcher Zack Godley will be the only significant loss from coach Dave Serrano’s second team. So the program’s long-awaited return to the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala., isn’t out of the question.

Basketball is in the best shape. With starters Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes returning — and Jeronne Maymon coming back from injury — the Vols could be a top-25 team.

It’s crucial they capitalize on their returning talent and experience, because the attrition will be significant after the 2013-14 season.

This is no time for wasting opportunities in any UT men’s sport. Opportunities no longer come around that often in a league as competitive as the SEC.

UT can’t count on being really successful in any men’s sport over a long period of time. However, it could become a program that maximizes its opportunities.

Even in its glory days, Tennessee failed to do that in football. Although the 1998 team won the national title, the abundantly talented 1997 and 1999 teams underachieved. So did the 2001 team, which put itself in position to play for the national title, then fell on its face in the SEC championship game against an inferior LSU team.

As good as the UT basketball program was under Bruce Pearl, it didn’t make the most of its NCAA tournament opportunities. It lost an agonizingly close game to Michigan State in the Elite Eight in 2010 and blew a 20-point lead and a chance for an historic upset in the Sweet 16 against Ohio State in 2007.

UT’s last good baseball team was talented enough to have won a national championship in 2005. But the Vols left the College World Series without winning a game.

They might have to make a deal with the devil to get back.

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 » 47

NashvillePreds writes:

Dear John,
Thanks for continually kicking us while we're down.
Despite your hatred for the Volunteers, we will Rise to the Top once again.
F off

Go Vols

NowHearThis writes:

The main reason for optimism being that they are not currently playing so the losses are not piling up.

murrayvol writes:

Now that's two very uplifting posts to kick off the thread. Thanks fellas!

The Vols will indeed return to the top of the SEC heap and John Adams will be there to witness the events. And it will be sooner than many think. GBO

tovolny writes:

John Adams gets paid for this (???????).

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Might as well laugh at him.hehe

bigtangerine writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

Dear John,
Thanks for continually kicking us while we're down.
Despite your hatred for the Volunteers, we will Rise to the Top once again.
F off

Go Vols

Reality bites. Facts are facts. It's been a lousy stretch and the ugliness may not be over in football and especialy baseball. Basketball better win next year because there's not reason for optimism beyond next winter.
Looks like the Preds are in for the same long, miserable fate. They're already one of the worst teams in hockey ater blowing their chance last year.

Vol-TIL-I-FaLL writes:

regardless of how it sums up..this is the real UT...BRIGHT ORANGE..NOT BURNT

Razor784 writes:

I think we're looking great in all 3 sports. Butch and Serrano are proven winners and they'll eventually get their teams to a championship level. Cuonzo needs to raise his recruiting just a little. He's done a nice job with his first two teams.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to bigtangerine:

Reality bites. Facts are facts. It's been a lousy stretch and the ugliness may not be over in football and especialy baseball. Basketball better win next year because there's not reason for optimism beyond next winter.
Looks like the Preds are in for the same long, miserable fate. They're already one of the worst teams in hockey ater blowing their chance last year.

You don't matter.
Neither does JA.
Thanks for defending your fellow hater.
People like you are the ones who always sit on the sidelines, while attempting to bring others to their level of misery.

The Preds and Vols will both be fine.
Can't say the same for your success. But then again, you already know that.

fearthehound writes:

Meh...Vol sports are average at best right now. KNS coverage and writing is less than average.

richvol writes:

The deal that the young fan mentioned...I have thought the same thing.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Wait until we play Oregon then Florida back to back on the road this year and see how many Vol backers they're really are. I'm so tired of all this Butch Jones hype, I just want to see them play and quit reading all this "Fill in the dead space" articles from the KNS about absolutely nothing.

eVOLved writes:

i can understand college kids going around making illogical statements about our team making a deal with the devil for the NC, but i don't understand writing an article about it.

tennrich1 writes:

Living out of town and never reading JA articles on a consistent basis over the years until the internet came along I was not one to overly critize JA...I had enough simpletons in my hometown that tried to be sports writers and were the object of my ire...BUT...I have to agree...this article by JA seems to validate what most of you have said for years...he seems to use all of our issues in the last 15 years against us...unnecessarily...hmmmmmm!!!

TigerShark10 writes:

What many of you fail to realize is he is speaking the truth. I was at UT when Coaches Huntsman (Track), Crawford(Track), Bussard(Swimming), Summit(Basketball) produced great teams. I saw the football team knock Bo out of the game in the first quarter, UT then destroyed Miami in the Sugar Bowl.We are down now because Administrators at UT have no real history with the University and bring in coaches who are inept or too greedy for glory. We are close to the bottom and it will take years to get back close to the top.

rbwtn writes:

in response to TigerShark10:

What many of you fail to realize is he is speaking the truth. I was at UT when Coaches Huntsman (Track), Crawford(Track), Bussard(Swimming), Summit(Basketball) produced great teams. I saw the football team knock Bo out of the game in the first quarter, UT then destroyed Miami in the Sugar Bowl.We are down now because Administrators at UT have no real history with the University and bring in coaches who are inept or too greedy for glory. We are close to the bottom and it will take years to get back close to the top.

Great Post I remember those days Fulmer Kicked Butt and I was in Miami and they thought they were God's gift to foot ball and we beat-em. They had it so easy if they beat a certain team a year they would play for #1. I think the former AD at TN made some big mistakes proving you need a Sportsman as AD not an administrator example; look what Doug Dickie did for Tennessee Pride!

scvols writes:

Here is my hope for next year:
Football - a 6 - 6 year with a bowl win.
Basketball - Big Dance with 1 win.
Baseball - SEC tournament.
Baby steps.

tennlions writes:

I am a huge Vol fan and a realist. I didn't have a problem with this JA article. I will say that his usual MO is to look at only the negative about UT athletics. In this case I thought he stuck to the facts pretty well. He acknowledges that CBJ has recruited his butt off, he says that this years basketball team should be Top 25, he notes that baseball losses will be minimal. What's the problem with any of that? Sounds like reality to me.

hikerdude writes:

Most seem to agree with JA that our basketball program is in the best shape for a successful next season. That may be true, but I'm afraid we'll be 20-10, again, and lose in the 1st or 2nd round of the NIT. Gene Keady style basketball might have been marginally successful 10-15 years ago, but that stlye won't cut it now, if that's all you have, and I'm afraid that under Cuonzo that's all we've got.

govols1234567 writes:

You guys would suck to write for. Never happy with anything John writes; I'm beginning to think the problem at this point is the Vol fanbase

volboy81 writes:

Even when John Adams tries to sound positive, hes negative. Hes as sad as his face.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to MikeCurrierReturns:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Arrrgh!!! You again. For those who don't recognize this repeatedly banished troll's MO, this is the character who often uses the names of historical athletes in his many and varied screen names and hates Cheek and Hart with a passion; and as they 'have no Tennessee ties' attempts to foist his conspiricy theories on reasonable folk. This time? It's Auburn's Mike Currier who in 1968 scored 3 TD's against the Vols on his first 4 carries. And now he has 'returned'... as the troll he is.

How creative! How cute! How imaginitive! for this little 'bull in a china shop' OCD troll. ... How nice.

arkyvol writes:

regardless of how the next year turns out, i'd say the reasons for optimism took one hell of an upturn the day hammy turned in his keys.

Snapshot writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

Dear John,
Thanks for continually kicking us while we're down.
Despite your hatred for the Volunteers, we will Rise to the Top once again.
F off

Go Vols

Maybe if you take your dislike for JA out of the equation you would get a different slant on the article. I actually took if as reason for optimism. You have to admit the Big Orange have had some pretty dismal seasons recently. He was giving reasons why the big three men's sports could be better next season, at least that was my take on the article.

Go Vols!

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

gc_scvol writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

I thought I'd go for comedy tonight instead of baseball. Maybe watch that "brett maverick" dude. You know, the one who wears that hat that's about 2 sizes too small, and the clothes his mother buys for him. She really can't believe that little boy in the basement has gotten that big. Now that's real comedy

Olddogsrule writes:

... mmmm ... ' I will not feed the trolls ... I will not feed the trolls ... I will not feed the trolls ... so ... as the southern belle was taught in charm school joke, I'll just say; again, to MCR and also to PC, ..."How nice. How very nice."

The_Power_T writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

Besides the fact you are a Vandy fan( good luck with that) on a Tennessee website, your troll post isn't even accurate. Chizick got fired 2 years after winning championship. I thought you Vandy folks were supposed to be smart. Get off our website and go "anchor down" somewhere. You're a mosquito buzzing in our ear, nothing more. Now run along Vandy fan, men are talking

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Once again our posters are trying to kill the messenger. You can't state the obvious on this site without all the idiots calling you a negavol, etc.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Olddogsrule:

Arrrgh!!! You again. For those who don't recognize this repeatedly banished troll's MO, this is the character who often uses the names of historical athletes in his many and varied screen names and hates Cheek and Hart with a passion; and as they 'have no Tennessee ties' attempts to foist his conspiricy theories on reasonable folk. This time? It's Auburn's Mike Currier who in 1968 scored 3 TD's against the Vols on his first 4 carries. And now he has 'returned'... as the troll he is.

How creative! How cute! How imaginitive! for this little 'bull in a china shop' OCD troll. ... How nice.

Olddogs,

Thank you friend, for pointing this out. You're right, normally when you see a new screen name ( June 2, 2013 ) and then check out the text, then find some familiar comments about former coaches, players, and an athletic director with whom the new whiner whines about...........that's a red flag.

So now we know it's Wilted Flowers sporting an
issue with a former Auburn star, ( just as he did with Glenn Ford, Karl Kremser, and Johnny Majors, etc. ) Who will this poor soul incorporate into the next new screen name........Johnny Musso, Lional James, Terry Robiskie, Johnny Mills, etc?????????

Vol fans, now we know who the 'tandem' again. They are trying to be clever to avoid another quick exit..........but once reported for their usual off-topic remarks, and the whining.........it'll be

P O O F........"now you see us, now you don't."

Navaloranges writes:

in response to Olddogsrule:

Arrrgh!!! You again. For those who don't recognize this repeatedly banished troll's MO, this is the character who often uses the names of historical athletes in his many and varied screen names and hates Cheek and Hart with a passion; and as they 'have no Tennessee ties' attempts to foist his conspiricy theories on reasonable folk. This time? It's Auburn's Mike Currier who in 1968 scored 3 TD's against the Vols on his first 4 carries. And now he has 'returned'... as the troll he is.

How creative! How cute! How imaginitive! for this little 'bull in a china shop' OCD troll. ... How nice.

He's easy to see through. Just a know-it-all BLOWHARD that's used up all his so-called "friends" (who never cared for him anyway) in the real world, so he now spends every waking moment trying to make Vol fans as miserable as he is by TROLLING our fansite. Nobodies like him have always been losers, and always will be.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

He's easy to see through. Just a know-it-all BLOWHARD that's used up all his so-called "friends" (who never cared for him anyway) in the real world, so he now spends every waking moment trying to make Vol fans as miserable as he is by TROLLING our fansite. Nobodies like him have always been losers, and always will be.

Gotta give the guy credit Naval. Takes a lot of time and energy to do this gig. Probably doesn't sleep much.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to MikeCurrierReturns:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Considering Fulmer was fired and kiffin bolted in back to back years, forcing a terrible hiring situation for ANY AD, UT's not as far behind auburn as you PRETEND in the last four years.

http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecru...

http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecru...

http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecru...

http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecru...

9th, 13th, 17th, and 21st. Twenty-first being the worst. Not great, but not bad considering what we've been thorough. Fulmer's last class was 35th. WE KNOW, Dooley couldn't cut it. Yeah, you GUESSED right. Nobody is "incessantly shaking an orange shaker", we're UT fans you Simpleton. We support until a proper chance is given to the man hired. Jones has won everywhere he's been, and we're NUMBER ONE in recruiting. The 2 main things you cried INCESSANTLY about with Dooley.

It's obvious that is all you want to do, whine and cry like a little child because your opinion is not asked for, or needed by the UTAD. You really have an overinflated view of yourself. You could not have done any better in the hiring process than Hammy or Hart. Jones was a very good, possibly great hire for the situation we're in right now. A situation not caused by any one individual or circumstance. Things ARE looking up, and we are not that far behind the auburns as you PRETEND we are. Jones could get us back ahead of schedule, or we could find he can't handle the pressure of he SEC. The latter I doubt seriously.

If you're not a UT fan, get lost, if you are, get on board with this staff and be a FANATIC. Nobody needs a "real UT fan" that's nothing but a big BLOWHARD, who's trying to bring everybody down to their level.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Gotta give the guy credit Naval. Takes a lot of time and energy to do this gig. Probably doesn't sleep much.

Ha! Kudos to the time and energy, but the gig's past stale. Kinda like watching the same Gilligans Island episode 200 straight times. Even Ginger and Mary Ann would get old after that much exposure...well, maybe not Mary Ann.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

Ha! Kudos to the time and energy, but the gig's past stale. Kinda like watching the same Gilligans Island episode 200 straight times. Even Ginger and Mary Ann would get old after that much exposure...well, maybe not Mary Ann.

Neither would Ginger!

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to MikeCurrierReturns:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yada, yada, yada! Over and over we hear about your lifelong fandom and that you're a alumnus.
I would say, based on your behavior, the quality of your fandom exudes an embarrassingly similar odor to that of a steaming pile of .... I would say, based on your behavior, you are a complete embarrassment to University of Tennessee alumni everywhere. I know that your OCD berating of all current things Tennessee embarrasses me for my school and state when you claim alumnus status.

But since I'm so charming, and I will not feed the trolls, I'll just say, ..."How nice, how very nice"!

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

Brett, you have posted this same BS before. Auburn fired Gene Chizik. Vanderbilt will never have the opportunity to fire a coach that won the National Championship because they will never win the SEC east much less a NC

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

Once again our posters are trying to kill the messenger. You can't state the obvious on this site without all the idiots calling you a negavol, etc.

The namecalling abviously goes both ways. I don't call them negavols because you have to be a Vol to earn that name.hehe

"Why can't we just get along"

1. they're not real Vol fans...most aren't.
2. It's GOOD to be positive.
3. We actually DID have one of the best offenses in the country last year. That's a "positive"
4. For your side we actually DID have one of the worst defenses in the country last year. The defensive experiment didn't pay off. at all
5. For the positive side we get to start all over.
6. JA is probably a decent person but DOES approach most of his articles from the negavols side...with a few minor pluses thrown in.imho

That said I didn't see too much terribly negative about this article. I do think it was written to get us postin against each other and to draw the "negavols" in. In fact I'm sure of it. That doesn't make him(JA) a bad person really. Just a negative one.hehe

antonio14313 writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

ya wanna know why vandy fans don't cry about their sports? because vandy is used to failure. ;) go vols.

t

antonio14313 writes:

in response to MikeCurrierReturns:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

hate to be the one to break your heart (assuming that you have one), but auburn will lose to tennessee. go vols.

t

antonio14313 writes:

i think that this is just another classic (dead period filler) backhanded slap at the vols that this writer does mostly all the time. the writer did credit the basketball team possibly being a top 25 team, and the incredible recruiting job in football, and whatnot, but it was doneso in a negative way, even predicting a 7 or 8 loss season (which i believe that UT is one of only 2 schools to NEVER have lost 8 in a season, EVER). if it were anyone else writing this, it'd be truth, plain and simple. but, this writer has a reputation that precedes him, so, it's recieved as a negative article.

gotta give the people what we want: news, no matter what type, in a dead period.

go vols.

t

goldengate writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

True, indeed, Prof. I'm orange through and through, but I like the Commodores and what they have done in terms of sports over the past few years.

UT, and a significant portion of its fan base, has fallen prey to thinking that falls in line largely with sportswriters such as Adams, rather than the type of thinking that falls in line with coaches and sports administrators. For almost all of its history, UT hired former football coaches as ADs and the sports programs were, by and large, successful. That success led to big profits, great facilities, and a robust fan base. UT abandoned that philosophy in 2003 and it did not serve the university well.

Cynicism and myopic mindset have killed UT sports. Hopefully, bringing in a real AD, albeit a non-coach, rather than a fund-raiser, will revive UTs athletics.

ctwins writes:

4 NCs in 2011/12 sch yr and another 2 for 2012/13. Tops in the SEC. Yea Alabama and be sure to check out Phil Steele and the SEC preseason picks out today.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to MikeCurrierReturns:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Jeff
You have no idea what Vanderbilt might do. Hind sight is always 20/20. In retrospect if Coach Fulmer hadn't been fired the Vols would possibly be in better shape than they are now. Guess what? Fulmer is gone and he's not coming back. Why don't you try and accept that? Hart didn't fire Fulmer. Why don't you try and get over your personal hatred for Hart long enough to try and support what Coach Jones is doing up to this point instead of bad-mouthing Jones every chance you get?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

You guys watch Vandy tonight win the NCAA Regional over ga Tech and advance once again to the Super Regional. Learn how to win with less students, money, recuiting budget, or facilities by doing things right. Vandy fans don't cry like UT fans nor would we ever fire a coach that brought us a National Championship. Matter of fact UT is the only team in SEC History to do so. Turned out great huh? Go DORES!!!

Bobby Bowden & Joe Paterno were forced to resign. I guess you didn't read that far into the facts before you ran your mouth. Also, Bear Bryant was forced out at UK after winning their only national championship in school history..Just a thought.

linebam writes:

in response to scvols:

Here is my hope for next year:
Football - a 6 - 6 year with a bowl win.
Basketball - Big Dance with 1 win.
Baseball - SEC tournament.
Baby steps.

I believe that all of your "hopes" for the coming year are VERY attainable and that they would, indeed, be "baby steps" in the right direction.

Go Vols!

bigorangebolt writes:

John Adams makes a living, writing garbage like this! Vol fans run him out of town! Adams is a joke! Go Big Orange! We are UT! Will be back!

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