On Friday morning before dawn, a buzzing from the cell phone alerted me that yes, 19 days into the search for a replacement for former head coach Derek Dooley, a new coach had been hired at Tennessee.
Soon after, it seems the naysayers were doing their best to pour a negative shot on the forthcoming announcement that Butch Jones would be given the opportunity to return the program to the past glory enjoyed some years ago. It's actually been a lot of years ago, even though some still think 1998 was a few years back.
Instead of looking at the decision through negative eyes, Tennessee fans should instead be honest with themselves about a thing or two.
This is a job that basically no 'wow' coaches wanted. That is the part of the whole process that becomes a hard pill to swallow when you look at the tradition that is Tennessee football.
Many hoped and even believed that former Tampa Bay head coach and ESPN commentator Jon Gruden would be the next head coach. While we all hoped that Gruden would walk away from $4 million dollars a year talking football to make a return to coaching, it was never going to happen.
We can all fool ourselves into thinking that, because his wife graduated from UT and that he has property in the area, that Gruden would quickly accept the position and return the Vols to a stature of prominence. It wasn't going to happen and the negotiations probably never got as far as many believe it did.
Then came the idea that Louisville's Charlie Strong would jump at the chance to relocate to Knoxville. Well, that didn't pan out either and we should all be thankful that it didn't come to pass.
One by one as this one and that one filled coaching vacancies in the SEC, Tennessee remained on an island all by itself and remained without a coach. There's got to be something to that, and while most of us will never be able to understand why having a job where your team plays in front of over 100, 000 fans remained unwanted, it did.
On Friday, athletic director Dave Hart got his guy, finally.
Jones may not have been the first, second or even third choice, but he is the new football coach at Tennessee. The opinion here is that the man will do well, though it will take some time. That is something that worries me the most, due in large part because Tennessee fans are hungry for success right now and don't respond to losing well at all.
Losing will have that type of effect on even the most zealous of football fans. In Tennessee, we stay hungry for a winner. Tradition tells us that football in Knoxville is king, though it has been some time since we've seen anyone associated with the program wearing a crown.
While listening intently to the press conference, I was struck by a few things Jones had to say. He said, "It is an honor and a privilege to be your football coach." His demeanor was that of someone pleased to be standing where he was and I really liked what he had to say.
Jones went on to say that he would assemble the best coaching staff in the entire country. Really, I'm digging the words flowing from the new skipper's mouth, but remember it will take time. We've endured a string of disappointing seasons at UT, with five of the last eight seasons ending with losing records, so giving the new hire a chance to back his words up will be the right thing to do.
If Tennessee fans will be patient and don't expect miracles such as a national championship in the next couple of years, this new coach may just turn out to be a dandy.
It will take time, but at least today we do have a new coach that seems to be hungry to return Tennessee football to where it once was.
Now I'm not sure about you, but I find nothing negative about that.
Your comments are welcome at msmith@ stateagzette.com