Friday, December 31, 2010

The Music City Bowl embarrassment

As an alumnus and lifelong football fan of the University of Tennessee (UT), I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to the University of North Carolina's football team, fans, students, and administration for the behavior of UT's football team during the Music City Bowl last night. The unsportsmanlike, undisciplined, and dirty play was uncalled for and something I would expect out of the Tennessee Thug Titans or the Oakland Raiders. It should NOT have been tolerated by the UT coaching staff who should have dealt with it swiftly and severely. They did not do so. Therefore, they are just as guilty as the players.

English: Derek Dooley at the Orange and White ...
English: Derek Dooley at the Orange and White game in Knoxville, TN, after taking over as Head Coach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tennessee's freshman quarterback Tyler Bray lit a spark under the team during the last four regular season games. Tennessee won each of them. His performance in last night's Music City Bowl was pretty good except for throwing multiple interceptions. However, his repeated "throat slashing" gestures directed at the North Carolina bench showed no class and were uncalled for. Coach Dooley should have nipped that in the bud after the first one, and then if Bray continued making the gestures, he should have been sent to the locker room. There's no place for that in UT football.

The undisciplined, dirty play of UT's defense during the last few minutes of the game was deplorable. Multiple personal fouls due to late and illegal hits were called on them which ultimately led to UT losing the game, as they should have. The intentional spearing of North Carolina's Todd Harrelson by UT's Janzen Jackson was inexcusable. By leaving his feet to make the illegal hit on Harrelson, it was obvious that Jackson was intentionally trying to injure him. Jackson is fortunate that he did not injure himself severely. Many football players have done so in the past by making the same stupid mistake he did. The officials should have ejected Jackson from the game, but they did not. Since he wasn't ejected, Coach Dooley should have yanked him out of the game himself. You may remember that Jackson was one of the UT football players involved in an attempted armed robbery last year (see earlier post here), but the charges against him were later dropped because he supposedly had no knowledge of the robbery beforehand. His thug-like behavior and lack of respect for his own, as well as others, safety in last night's game makes me wonder about whether or not the charges should not have been dropped.

Furthermore, after Jackson's "spearing incident," there were more personal fouls called against the UT defense plus one blatant late hit that the officials missed. The deal with Jackson was not an isolated incident. Based upon the UT football team's behavior last night, I thought Phil Fulmer was still the coach. The downfall of his regime at UT was a lack of discipline on the field which led to a lack of discipline off the field with player after player getting in trouble with the law. After he left and Lane Kiffin came on the scene, it continued as evidenced by the armed robbery incident mentioned earlier. The thuggery and lack of discipline at the University of Tennessee HAS TO END !! As a result of last night's debacle, two things need to happen immediately :
  1. Janzen Jackson should be dismissed from the team permanently. Intentional illegal hits with the potential to permanently and seriously injure another player CANNOT be tolerated. He was fortunate to get a second chance after the robbery incident. He should now be done at UT - period.
  2. Coach Derek Dooley should either resign or be fired. He was brought in to rebuild the team after the Fulmer and Kiffin debacle as well as institute some discipline and build respect. Based upon the behavior of UT's football team last night, he has either forgotten or ignored the discipline part. By not putting his foot down last night, he allowed his players to thoroughly embarrass the university. He has to go - NOW.
I was not upset by Tennessee losing a football game last night. I was disappointed and embarrassed because they lost it due to a meltdown caused by a lack of self-control and discipline. In my opinion, it all goes back to the poor coaching staff. Until some rules for behavior are laid down and enforced, crap like last night will continue to hit the fan and embarrass the university. Enough is enough, and it needs to be fixed right now so that it doesn't happen again. I'm tired of it. Usually, we hear stories about people "coming out of the closet." After last night's embarrassment, my Tennessee orange is going into the closet - way, way, way back in the closet. It'll stay there until the problems are fixed.

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