As we noted here yesterday, Tennessee’s football squad looks to be Team Turmoil heading into the offseason. There were players unhappy with other players this season. Players unhappy with coaches for throwing them under the bus and for using double-standards when it came to discipline. There was a lack of leadership from veterans (mainly because there were very few veterans in the first place) and the youngsters who became de facto leaders had serious attitude problems.
All of that’s what’s swirling around the Tennessee program heading into a bowl-less offseason. Good luck, Derek Dooley.
Yesterday, tailback Tauren Poole — one of the seniors who called out some younger teammates after the Vols’ loss to Kentucky on Saturday — opened up about the mess at UT on WNOX-FM in Knoxville yesterday.
Asked whether — in hindsight — he would go to UT again, Poole said:
“If you’d have told me Coach (Phillip) Fulmer would have gotten fired and then this coach, that coach, this strength coach, that position coach, I probably wouldn’t have came here because I knew it would have been a dysfunctional setup, an unstable program… It was a tough situation. It was a roller-coaster ride.”
And what does he mean by roller-coaster ride?
“Guys kind of shut it down (against Kentucky). All the seniors, we cared. We cared more than a lot of those guys out there. And that’s expected, but we weren’t getting it back. Those guys have next year to look forward to. We don’t. My career is over at UT.”
And what about his coach’s critical tongue… which he uses to critique his players in the media with great regularity?
“Coach Dooley is a very critical guy. He’s critical of his players and coaches. It’s criticism and you’ve got to take it in. Guys just got to have thick skin with Coach Dooley. He’s going to speak his mind. Every minute of the day, every moment, if he’s got an opinion, he’s going to tell you. That’s just the type of guy he is.”
Dooley is rebuilding Tennessee’s roster and is one his way to a third-consecutive Top 15 signing class. As for building a “team,” well, it sounds like that’s his next challenge.