By Alex Norman

And it has begun…

I was listening to local sports talk radio the other day and heard a caller say that if Vols head coach Butch Jones leaves Tennessee to take the Michigan job that UT should try to hire Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State or Gus Malzahn from Auburn.

Well, that’ll do it. Congratulations Tennessee.  You once again boast one of the most miserable fan bases in the nation.

Of course callers like that guy aren’t necessarily an accurate representation of an entire group, but it says something about the mental psyche of Tennessee fans that a call like that would even happen.

First of all, Butch Jones has said that he is committed to Tennessee.   Also, Michigan has a head coach so at the present time there is no job opening there.  And just because that job would potentially be open at Michigan and Jones is from Michigan doesn’t mean Jones wants to go to Michigan.  That football program is a dumpster fire with an embattled athletic director running the show.

How many northerners prefer Tennessee weather and lack of a state income tax?  The answer is all of them.  Jones isn’t going anywhere. But the rumor mill wound up last week anyway.

Will Tennessee fans be forever scarred by Lane Kiffin’s midnight run?

Johnny Majors was a Tennessee guy, was Vols head coach for 16 years and then thrown to the curb when it was decided they should be winning more. Phillip Fulmer was a Tennessee guy, was Vols head coach for 17 years and then thrown to the curb when it was decided he wasn’t winning enough.

Lane Kiffin was not a Tennessee guy, was Vols head coach for 14 months, and then left UT high and dry 3 weeks before national signing day for greener pastures and his “dream job.”

So now anytime a Tennessee coach is even remotely associated with an opening at another college or in the NFL, folks are going to panic and start looking up

Heck, I remember hearing people talk about Mark Richt’s job and wonder if Derek Dooley would leave Tennessee for Georgia.  Yes, Derek Dooley, arguably the worst coaching hire in major college football this side of Charlie Weis at Kansas.

So you have those Tennessee fans… you also have the flip side to this coin.  The Tennessee fans that believe the Vols should be back among the elite teams in the SEC right now.  These are the fans that believe that the Vols have “lost enough,” and don’t understand why it isn’t always 1998 in Knoxville.

Didn’t most people predict that the Vols would go 5-7 or 6-6 this season?  Tennessee is still on track to finish with a record in that range.

But things changed when the Vols lost to Florida on October 4th.  The Vols haven’t beaten the Gators since 2004, and this was their best chance to snap that streak.  The 2014 Gators are perhaps the worst Florida team they’ve fielded since Steve Spurrier arrived in 1990.

But Tennessee couldn’t figure out anything offensively and lost 10-9, wasting a dominant performance by the Vols defense.

That brought out the critics.  Why isn’t the offensive line improving? (They are young and lacking experience.) What is going on with the play calling? (The quarterback is taking too long to throw.)   Why on earth would you sell your tickets to an Alabama fan? (Because you can make a profit.)

Leading into the South Carolina game things turned to the “Why didn’t Joshua Dobbs start from day 1?” camp. Maybe because he wasn’t very good back in August and Justin Worley gave the Vols the best chance to win.

That logic has no place in this argument good sir…

Look, there is nothing wrong with supporting your team to the fullest, and at the same time questioning why the Vols are still a step behind the rest of the SEC.

But living in fear that your coach is going to bolt at his earliest opportunity, or giving up hope and criticizing everything going on with the program… neither of those things is healthy.

For your program or yourself.

Tennessee is on the road back.  Eventually the fruits of the coaching staff’s recruiting labor will flourish.

Until then, I advise you to hide under your desk.

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