SEC notes: Tennessee hopes to be on the rise
Vols hope to rise again
Tennessee, which won the first BCS championship and had double-digit wins in nine of coach Phil Fulmer’s 16-plus seasons, is skidding. The Vols are coming off a 5-7 year, a third losing record in the last four, and the worst conference record (1-7) since the SEC commenced in 1933.
It feels strange.
“We haven’t had the seasons Tennessee’s had in the past,” junior quarterback Tyler Bray said. “It’s been really hard. I’m just trying to get back this year and show the nation not only what I can do but what the University of Tennessee can do.”
Third-year Vols coach Derek Dooley couldn’t pinpoint just one targeted area of improvement.
“Everything,” Dooley said. “Because we really weren’t good at anything.”
A better running game would be a good start. The Vols averaged 90.1 yards per game on the ground last year.
Improvement should happen in Knoxville with 19 returning starters, including a corps of wide receivers that should be among the nation’s best.
Saban on Penn State
Earlier in the week, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said no one person “could derail the soul of an institution,” speaking indirectly about Penn State. Thursday, Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked about the power and influence of football at his university, and said there were enough checks and balances to prevent a similar situation.
“When someone doesn’t do what they’re supposed to,” he said, “whether it’s NCAA rules or something that might be criminal, decision gets made (by administrators) in the best interest of the university.
“I have tremendous faith, trust and confidence in our institution that we will do the right things to try and promote the moral obligation that we all have to protect other folk, other people.”
Saban also suggested Penn State tax its athletic tickets and donate the proceeds to a child abuse organization.
“Or something like that,” he said, “rather than worrying about some punishment that is really going to have no positive affect on anything.”
Worst of the best
LSU over Georgia was the call of media members in the preseason poll. The Tigers and Alabama are selected to pick up where they left off as the top two vote-getting teams.
The bottom belongs to Mississippi.
Since the Dexter McCluster-led Rebels beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl after the 2009 season, Mississippi is 1-15 in league games. Houston Nutt was fired after last year, and new coach Hugh Freeze knows there will be pain this year.
“I’ve said from day one, there’s going to be some times when we will rejoice this year, and there will be some difficult times,” said Freeze
At least one person is optimistic. Of the 222 members who voted, one placed Mississippi first.