Dennis Dodd has proven before that he doesn’t have a clue about Tennessee athletics.
Remember when, as the world was finally catching on to Butch Jones’s Ponzi scheme, he made the case that the man who was set to lead the Vols to the program’s first 4-8 season was actually underrated and not receiving enough credit for all of his accomplishments?
What about when he mocked the fan base with his “Bubba from Pidgeon Forge” tweet? Yeah, you won’t be able to go and dig through the archives and relive that one. Because Dennis deleted it. But people don’t forget.
Dennis Dodd thinks very little of Tennessee fans.
So, on Tuesday as he posted his latest article, I was skeptical. I do not value his opinion on Tennessee athletics, but this was one of the first national pieces published about the new regime in charge in Knoxville, maybe the first that wasn’t focused around National Signing Day. I was curious.
So, I read it.
Quickly into the piece I regretted my decision.
Social media and protesting Vols fans became unhinged. The rest of us cringed. In the deep recesses of the Volunteer soul, there emerged miscast outrage over Schiano’s never-proven involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
A large portion of those protestors were faux moral ethicists. They simply didn’t care to see Tennessee hire a former Rutgers coach with a 68-67 record who hadn’t led a team in five years.
All of them should be embarrassed.
As someone who was on the frontline on Schiano Sunday, I would like to say that, with all due respect, Dennis Dodd can go to hell. It’s easy for him to sit hundreds of miles away and believe that the hundreds of people on Tennessee’s campus and the thousands on the internet were just a redneck mob mad about Jon Gruden or disappointed that an average college/sub-par NFL coach was set to take over the Tennessee program. It’s easy for him to make it a football thing.
But, unlike Dennis Dodd, I was there.
I was among the crowd.
I saw the looks on people’s faces. I had countless conversations with them. I walked with people who could not care less about Tennessee athletics join forces and rally to stop a man who was even mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Sandusky from becoming the highest-paid state employee.
Dennis Dodd can have his opinions. But he doesn’t know a damn thing about Tennessee fans.
Look, I’m not going to lump Dodd into the same category as Dan Wolken. I’ll give him the courtesy that he refuses to give Vol fans by not making sweeping generalizations. Sure, Dennis Dodd seems to have some type of agenda when it comes to Tennessee coverage, but maybe he’s just a misinformed elitist instead of a puppet sucking up to certain agents or athletic directors for information.
He could’ve just been dumb enough to actually believe that whole “Butch Jones is underrated” thing. Wait, oh my god he did it again!
Jones was a decent man and good coach but never quite fit the role. There were whispers he didn’t get what it took to win in the SEC. Despite that drum-beat out of Knoxville, Jones wasn’t incompetent. His five-year stay put in perspective how bad it had gotten at Tennessee.
Dennis hasn’t given up on Butch Jones! He’s still making the case that the “drum-beaters” in Knoxville made 2017’s historically bad 4-8 record seem worse than it actually was. Things are just that bad in Tennessee.
It’s getting tougher and tougher to defend it as just ignorance compared to the grinding of an ax.
The speculation was over the top for Tennessee fans who traditionally overvalue their program.
For what it’s worth, Dodd was complimentary of Phillip Fulmer and Jeremy Pruitt in his story. He sang Pruitt’s praises and called him a rising star in the coaching world; Fulmer was described as a calming, strong voice worthy of trust to lead the Volunteer athletic department.
I just wish that I could trust that he actually believed it and wasn’t just trying to get on the good side of the new power duo in Knoxville.