By Frank Gale
A lot has happened over the weekend from a humiliating loss (41-18) at Vanderbilt to the firing of the head coach. That despite his best intentions, simply could not get the football program headed in the right direction. Finally, Dave Hart did what he had to do and we will see Jim Chaney on the sidelines for the Kentucky final. We wish Coach Derek Dooley and his staff the best in their future endeavors.
I guess Jim Butler has levitated back to earth after his ‘Dores dismantled a team that was in disarray Saturday night in Nashville. Congrats Jim, but odds are the Vols will return to form with a new coach and staff to welcome your team to Knoxville next season. With a coach that has shown that he can win in the SEC at Vanderbilt, I would suspect that James Franklin will be leaving for greener (as in money) pastures sooner than later.
The coaching search will be a fluid situation for the next month, and as usual, the fans will most likely be the last to know. In the meantime, feel free to drive yourself nuts with all the speculation and reports (mostly false) on the Internet. I just hope they get this hire right because if they don’t, it could take the best part of another decade to fix the football program.
Each Thanksgiving I have shared things the Big Orange Nation should be thankful for. I always have been a person that sees the glass as half full instead of half empty. This Thursday we will thank God for our many blessings. In that spirit, I thought maybe if we paused and stepped back we all could remember the good things surrounding this and other football seasons at UT.
Here are some of the things about UT football for which I am thankful.
I am thankful for the Vol walk and the Pride of the Southland Band that makes the scene outside of Neyland Stadium one of the best in college football.
I am thankful for the best fight song ever – "Rocky Top." Any true Vol fan swells with pride and gets tears in their eyes when they hear that played before, during and after the games.
I am thankful for this year’s senior class that will run through the “T” for the final time Saturday. They came to UT to win championships. Instead, they have lived through some tough times during their time on Rocky Top.
I am thankful for all the players that will return next season and strive to put Tennessee football back on top. There is a lot of talent in this group for the next coaching staff to develop. May they turn out to be part of the solution and not the problem.
I am thankful for the former players that have returned throughout the season to help support the program and have kept the memories of championships fresh in our thoughts.
I am thankful for the fans that, in spite of a sub par year, continued to support the Big Orange this season.
I am thankful for the wonderful practice facilities that will help in bringing future talented student athletes to UT to compete for championships.
I am thankful for the way Coach Dooley represented the University of Tennessee despite his win-loss record.
I am sure that I have missed many things about UT football to be thankful for, but I am sure that each of you will finish the list with the things that you too are thankful. List a few of your own. You might be surprised at how it makes you feel.
I would add one more thing to my list – you, the reader, for without you, writing this would not be any fun at all. Happy Thanksgiving and go Vols!
(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)