As I type these words after a long day of hosting a yard sale, spending time with family and watching the Vols get decimated by the Bammers, I have a few thoughts to convey on the two pervasive attitudes and outlooks of Volunteer fans taking to social media to voice their opinions of how their fellow Orange clad zealots should be conducting themselves during this time of woe. (Whew! That may be the most insanely long run-on sentence I have ever typed to open up a blog post.)
There seem to be two main camps:
- The "sky is falling" camp. This camp wants Dooley fired immediately. The folks tonight at Neyland Stadium in this camp left early, and most, by now, are probably 8 deep into their 12 pack of Natural Ice. After all, you know what the experts say to use after a traumatic event - R.I.C.E. - Rest, ICE (As in Natural), Compression and Elevation. This camp is furious that Dave Hart has allowed Dooley's circus to continue this far into the season even though the Vols have played a gauntlet of foes and firing Head Coaches mid-season is taboo.
- The "I love my Vols no matter what, and you're a a fair-weather fan for leaving the Stadium early or booing or not sticking with this team and coaching staff" camp. This camp sees itself as the only camp truly worthy to don the Orange & White. All other fans that are showing displeasure in any shape, fashion or form are really just closet bandwagon Florida fans disguised in UT garb. This camp believes that Dooley was dealt the worst possible hand in the Golden Age of the SEC, and the Vols deserve to play in front of 107,000 rabid Big Orange fans no matter how paltry the results have been thus far under Dooley.
My analysis of each camp:
- The "sky is falling" camp: Y'all are right. Derek Dooley was handed the keys to a tragic kingdom after a great fall from grace. This fall was so drastic and severe that UT fans that are also Baptists are probably rethinking the doctrine of "once saved always saved", and again, this fall occurred before Derek Dooley was named the Head Coach at the University of Tennessee. In conjunction with this fall from grace, the vast majority of other SEC teams have risen up and set the bar at an unprecedented height of excellence which meant that Dooley (if he were to be successful in competing for SEC titles) would have to raise the bar higher than even the lofty altitudes of the late 90's. This flatly has not happened. The Vols are absolutely lost in big SEC games; offensively, defensively, special teams, coaching, sideline demeanor, and on and on. It's terrible. This camp has every right in my opinion to be completely fed up with the on the field product.
- The "I love my Vols no matter what, and you're a fair-weather fan for leaving the Stadium early or booing or not sticking with this team and coaching staff" camp: Y'all are too idealistic. I never leave sporting events early, but I don't consider myself to be a patron saint for doing so. It's just a personal preference. I think it's ok for fans to hit the ramps when the team is getting humiliated by 31 points. Also, I think it's ok to complain about the coaching staff on social media. Heck, it's fine by me to call for Dooley's head on the radio or sell your tickets to opposing fans. If you think this is heresy, hear me out. Sports fans in today's economy sacrifice a lot to be fans. This is especially true for the fans who attend all the games. From tickets to parking to concessions to the most valuable commodity, time, it's not easy. When the product on the field or court isn't up to par, there are a few things you can do to cause change. You can not show up, boo when you do show up, write letters to the AD, pull donation money, etc. If fans continue to show up and act like nothing is wrong, where is the motivation to make changes? It's not there. In fact, this rationale means you are along the lines of Chicago Cubs fans that attend games for the atmosphere of Wrigley and the overall "experience". Most could give a rip if the "Lovable Losers" actually win the game or not. With the money still rolling in win, lose or draw, there isn't as much of a motivation to put a winner on the field. In regards to the Cubbies, Theo is trying to end this vicious cycle, but the point is still the same. Fans who demand change and take action to force change are still fans. They are fans that care enough to do what is within their control to make changes. Now if Dooley were .500 in SEC play over the course of his two plus seasons and somewhat competitive against Alabama and in other big games, this approach would be incorrect. This is not the case though. Dooley is 4-16 (or something like that) vs. SEC teams as Head Coach of the UT Vols. We surely would not have accepted that from Phil Fulmer so why should UT fans accept that from Derek Dooley? Are fans to act like cyborgs by showing up and acting like all is well when it's a complete disaster? I guess that would be the answer if you want UT fans to be akin to the "Bleacher Bums". I think we're better than that.
In closing, I am a true University of Tennessee fan and will still be when and if I'm lucky enough to be alive as a Senior Citizen smelling my own farts on a front porch rocking chair while handing out Werther's Originals to my grandkids. Fans still should support this team but not to a fault of being brainwashed Dool-Aid drinkers. It's time for a change, and if everyone were to act like nothing is wrong, then we would be accepting mediocrity. Volunteer fans sure as hell aren't "lovable losers" so don't act like it.