How pathetic is Tennessee? Very. All this energy, street cred and excitement generated by Lane Kiffin for the Tennessee Volunteer program hasnâ€™t necessarily reached the fans.
Volunteer fans wonâ€™t even attend football games. According to the Daily News Journal, â€œJust 27 hours after breaking ground on a new $39 million football complex, the Tennessee Vols played Memphis in front of approximately 15,000 empty seats at Neyland Stadium.â€
This isnâ€™t good for UTâ€™s bottom line. Apparently, the Vols are spending money in a bid to keep up with the Floridas and Alabamas of the world. The DNJ reports, â€œHamilton’s free-spending is driving the Vol athletics department into deep debt ($106 million in interest payment by 2037). The program’s current budget is $100.85 million, and there are no guarantees the debt service on a $200 million building program can be covered, even though UT officials reported a $2.7 million surplus for the year ending last June 30.â€
Another embarrassment is Tennesseeâ€™s continued legal problems. Lane Kiffin is running a highly disciplined program. Or not. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports, â€œJanzen Jackson, Mike Edwards and Nu’Keese Richardson, all 18, were charged this morning after an armed robbery attempt at a Pilot station on Cumberland Avenue, according to the Knoxville Police Department.â€
Any guesses on how many coaches make sure 2010 recruitsâ€”or at least the recruitsâ€™ parentsâ€”see copies of this newspaper report?
What about this line from a tv report? “A Volunteer TV News photographer on the scene captured the suspects while they were being identified. At least one of them wore a black University of Tennessee t-shirt with an orange Adidas logo and the phrase ‘impossible is nothing’.â€
The more things change in Knoxville, the more things stay the same. Fan apathy and legal troubles were supposed to end with Phil Fulmer. I guess Fulmer wasnâ€™t the problem.