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The Revolution That Saved Tennessee Football
Posted: Thursday, December 7th, 2017, 7:58 PM
by Josh
• Permalink
11-26-2017. Weeks before the date, former players were cryptically tweeting out this date. The Sunday after the Vanderbilt game. Many Gruthers thought that was going to be the day that Jon Gruden was announced as Tennessee's next head coach. Gruden may not have came to Tennessee that day, but it was one of the most pivotal days in Tennessee football history all the same.

The day began with a fresh Grumor from CBS Sports saying that UT was in talks with Gruden. Not long after that, word began to leak that Tennessee was about to hire Greg Schiano.

Everything seemed lost. That news felt like someone in my family had died. Greg Schiano was not only a terrible fit who would have certainly failed here, he was also a scum bag who was hated by his players in Tampa Bay. On top of that, he may or may not have seen a child being raped at Penn State and did nothing about it. Make no mistake, it felt like Tennessee football was about to die.

And it would have, if not for a brave Italian guy from Philadelphia who has been the voice of the voiceless for almost 25 years. Tony Basilio rallied Vol Nation to create an uproar and speak out against the hiring of Greg Schiano. Tennessee fans haven't been truly united since the Johnny Majors era. Until Sunday that is. No Vol fan wanted Greg Schiano. The massive unrest on social media, along with the other top boosters not named Haslam and several state lawmakers, was enough to stop Schiano from being hired.

This was met by near universal condemnation by the national media. They showed their ignorance of the situation and exposed themselves as self-serving whores to agents and sources in athletic departments, as opposed to people who are supposed to find the truth in a story. Credible journalists would try to find out why there was an uprising and why there was anger. These people piled on and showed no interest in the truth. Vol Nation should never forget, and never let them forget.

The ensuing week was one embarrassment after another for Tennessee, and most of the blame rested with two people. John Currie, and his puppet master Jimmy Haslam. After getting Mike Gundy a raise, Currie almost landed a good coach with Jeff Brohm. That process was ultimately botched when UT didn't want to pay his buyout. From there, the job was immediately offered to Dave Doeren. It was up to Vol Nation again to become the caretakers and make sure this guy didn't take the job. The effort was successful and disaster was averted for the second time. John Currie then went rogue and offered the job to Mike Leach, who was happy to take the job. The only problem was, Currie wasn't authorized to make that trip. He was desperately trying to save his job but to no avail. Last Friday morning, Chancellor Davenport fired John Currie and thus the real fight for Tennessee football began.

Jimmy Haslam tried to appoint another puppet in Reid Sigmon and several other boosters were united behind Phillip Fulmer. Tony once again rallied the troops and Vol Nation made its voice heard. Thankfully Chancellor Davenport decided enough was enough and hired Phillip Fulmer. At that point, the national embarrassment was over and the healing began.

Coach Fulmer ran a professional search and ended up with a great football coach. If you haven't watched Jeremey Pruitt's introductory press conference, I suggest you do it as soon as possible. The guy's goal is to win championships. He won't be happy with winning 9 games. He wants rings. When asked about Tennessee's prospects of competing for championships again, he replied "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think you could win championships here." Did you ever hear such ambitions from Derek Dooley or Butch Jones?

Talk is one thing. Can he deliver? Absolutely. In his five years of being a defensive coordinator, his defenses have never ranked lower that 16th nationally. Think about all of the games Tennessee could have won during the dark decade if they had only had a defense. Tennessee hasn't had a defense since John Chavis was on campus. As many things that have changed in football over the years, one thing remains an eternal truth. Defense wins championships.

This is why Coach Fulmer was targeting defensive coordinators. He knows that if Tennessee is ever going to get back to winning championships, it needs to get back to having an elite defense. I also believe that establishing an elite defense will be the fastest way for Tennessee to reclaim its rightful spot in the pantheon of college football.

From the looks of it, Coach Pruitt is putting together a staff of great coaches who are also great recruiters. I feel better about the state of Tennessee football than I have felt in a very long time. Probably since Cutcliffe was rehired as offensive coordinator in 2006. I think Tennessee football is about to come out of its dark decade. There's some good talent on this roster. It's probably unrealistic to expect them to compete for the East next year, but I certainly think they can win 7 or 8 games. I think by year 2, Coach Pruitt will probably have Tennessee competing for the East.

Clay Travis has a great stat. Every coach that eventually wins an SEC Championship always wins at least 9 games by year 2. There may be a few exceptions, but not many. Kirby Smart just had his big year 2. Bob Stoops had a big year 2. Spurrier had a big year 2. Saban had a big year 2. Urban Meyer had a big year 2. Mark Richt had a big year 2. I think we finally have a guy that will have a big year 2.

These past 11 days are going to be remembered forever in the history of Tennessee football. The thing we love so much was on death's door and we united to save it not once, not twice, but three times. We would not let Tennessee football die. These last 11 days have really warmed my heart. I knew a lot of people cared about Tennessee football. I was beginning to think I cared too much about it. The revolution showed me that there are many people who care about Tennessee football as much as I do. And there were many people willing to fight as hard as they could to try to save it. Individually, we couldn't do much. But united, we saved one of the blue blood programs of college football from going the way of Minnesota. A former power in their own right that won 7 national championships, but none since 1960.

Everyone in Vol Nation can rest easy tonight knowing that a movement sprung up organically to save Tennessee from itself. From the Haslams. It was as if the Tennessee fanbase grew a collective consciousness that said with one voice, "Enough is enough. We will now reclaim our place with the elite of college football."

The rest of the country may still be laughing. That's fine. Let them laugh. We know that we saved Tennessee football, and they will know soon enough. Let them laugh while they can. They won't be able to for much longer. Tennessee football is back from the dead.

Thank you for everyone who takes the time to read this. I truly appreciate it. Please follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog and let's keep fighting for #TennesseeExceptionalism Never give up the fight. Ever.

Alabama over Clemson
Oklahoma over Georgia

Alabama over Oklahoma for the National Championship

This was a horrible football season but against all odds, it ended with Tennessee football being brought back to life. Here's looking forward to seeing Tennessee's rebirth in 2018. Stay safe until then. Go Vols and God Bless!

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