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Tuesday, October 11, 2005
It was only a matter of time..
I suppose it was only a matter of time, really.

Following UT's loss to Georgia Saturday afternoon, every arm chair offensive coordinator in Tennessee has come out of the woodwork to pile on offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. Sanders has been the whipping boy for several years now for Vols' fans as the team has failed to produce offensively at the same place we did in the 90s. In fact, one local call-in show guy won't even call Sanders by his name but instead refers to him only as RS.

But you know, that's the nature of the beast these days. I am sure there are hundreds of callers lined up in New York City today to breakdown whatever moves Joe Torre made in the critical game five last night that didn't work and sent the Yankees home early in the playoffs (in a side note--couldn't happen to a better team!) With the proliferation of sports call in shows, it gives all of us average fans the chance to call in and dog our favorite target when things go wrong on the field.

You probably remember a few years ago that Florida fans put up a web site within a couple of days of Ron Zook's hiring calling for his ouster at Florida. And now, a frustrated Tennessee fan has put up a web site--Fire Randy Sanders. Now, in the past, I've been critical of Sanders and the job he's done...just ask Barry, who listened to me rant about him during the 2002 season. Shoot, before the season started I was kind of hoping we'd have a good year so that Randy would get some interest from Kentucky in their head coaching vacancy (cause let's face it--Rich Brooks is just about gone up there).

In this arguement, I can see both sides. There are some who say Sanders is caught in a no-win situation becuase the offensive scheme we have, we've had for years and Fulmer ain't gonna change it. Fulmer believes in it and it's a solid one that helped win a national title a few years back. So, even if you did go so far as to fire Sanders, what would it change? Fulmer has shown he's loyal to his assistants and likes to promote from within--so who would that leave to fill the vacancy should Sanders be deemed the fatted calf who must be sacrificed?

On the other hand, there's the fan conspiracy theory that David Cutcliffe got fired from Ole Miss and is living in Knoxville, sitting out a year from coaching. And it was Cutcliffe who was at the reigns in the "glory days" of the mid to late 90s when UT's offense just clicked. And he's just waiting so why not get him back some fans postulate. Are the comparisons fair?

I'm not really sure. But there is one damning thing against Sanders that I can see. As offensive coordinator, both have had some top-notch QB talent. With Cutcliffe, that QB talent made strides from year to year--including such names as Health Shuler, Tee Martin and a guy named Peyton. With Sanders, we've had some good players at QB and some great talent, but it seems to stagnate. Ask yourself this--did Casey Clausen get any better from the time he was a freshman to when he was a senior? And what about Eric Ainge's huge step backward this year? To me, the lack of ability to continue to groom talent and help guys take that next step falls is probably the most damning stat against Sanders and may be the biggest reason that he does get the axe at season's end.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/11/2005 08:47:00 AM | |
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