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COMMENTARY BY JOE BIDDLE: Dooley's perception vs. Franklin's

Sometimes, perception is reality.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin’s team is 4-4 going into the Kentucky game.

The Commodores have won two SEC games, against Missouri and Auburn, two teams that have one SEC win between them.

 In the eastern part of the state, Tennessee is 3-5 on the season with all five losses coming at the hands of SEC teams ranked in the top 20.

UT coach Derek Dooley is getting hammered every day by fans, talk show hosts, in the beauty salons and barbershops. (They still have barbershops in Tennessee.)

Like Dooley, Franklin’s team lost to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Franklin is in his second season; Dooley is in his third.

Yet Dooley is hanging on by a thread. They are ready to run him out of town.

On the other hand, Franklin is the toast of Music City. His face is on billboards all around town. He is on more TV commercials than presidential candidates. He approves all his messages.

While Tennessee fans are seemingly done with Dooley, I predict Vanderbilt fans will run down West End Ave. in their birthday suits if Franklin takes them to an unheard of milestone of back-to-back bowl games.

Why the difference? Tennessee has a history of fielding football teams that win conference and national championships.

Vanderbilt is known more for serving as a doormat for other SEC teams to wipe their feet on, then staying around for a little honky-tonking and going on to the next game.

Bottom line, I see both teams going bowling when all the air is cleared.

Vanderbilt has had the easier schedule, with lopsided wins over Presbyterian (1-AA) and UMass, two teams that have combined for one win this season.

Tennessee walloped Georgia State and Akron with Troy waiting in Neyland Stadium Saturday.

Vanderbilt has four teams to get to the bowl eligible six wins. It travels to Kentucky Saturday, followed by Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest.

Tennessee has Troy, then Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Vanderbilt Nation believes they can run the table and win eight games. They can lose one of the games, still go 7-5 and go bowling. They can even lose two and qualify, although it would likely put them in Shreveport or Birmingham.

The Big Orange brethren won’t settle for less than winning out. It seems of the two teams, they have the best chance to do that unless banging their heads against top 20 teams has left too many scars.

The two teams play each other Nov. 17 at Vanderbilt Stadium. If Tennessee beats Vanderbilt at home, Franklin’s star becomes a little dimmer. If Vanderbilt beats the Vols, Dooley might as well head to Union Station and hop on a freight train out of town.

Dooley knows what is on the line.

“I think it is all pretty clear that the legacy of this team and the character of this team is going to be defined by how we compete these last four games,’’ he said at his weekly presser.

“We can’t go 4-0 without going 1-0. I told the players that I don’t want to even talk about 4-0. … We have to get a win and we haven’t done that in a while.’’

Dooley calls it a “second season’’ – one that doesn’t include an opponent currently in any of the polls.

For Dooley and Franklin, it will be football’s version of the Final Four.

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee. He can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com



Vanderbilt coach James Franklin’s team is 4-4 going into the Kentucky game.

The Commodores have won two SEC games, against Missouri and Auburn, two teams that have one SEC win between them.

 In the eastern part of the state, Tennessee is 3-5 on the season with all five losses coming at the hands of SEC teams ranked in the top 20.

UT coach Derek Dooley is getting hammered every day by fans, talk show hosts, in the beauty salons and barbershops. (They still have barbershops in Tennessee.)

Like Dooley, Franklin’s team lost to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Franklin is in his second season; Dooley is in his third.

Yet Dooley is hanging on by a thread. They are ready to run him out of town.

On the other hand, Franklin is the toast of Music City. His face is on billboards all around town. He is on more TV commercials than presidential candidates. He approves all his messages.

While Tennessee fans are seemingly done with Dooley, I predict Vanderbilt fans will run down West End Ave. in their birthday suits if Franklin takes them to an unheard of milestone of back-to-back bowl games.

Why the difference? Tennessee has a history of fielding football teams that win conference and national championships.

Vanderbilt is known more for serving as a doormat for other SEC teams to wipe their feet on, then staying around for a little honky-tonking and going on to the next game.

Bottom line, I see both teams going bowling when all the air is cleared.

Vanderbilt has had the easier schedule, with lopsided wins over Presbyterian (1-AA) and UMass, two teams that have combined for one win this season.

Tennessee walloped Georgia State and Akron with Troy waiting in Neyland Stadium Saturday.

Vanderbilt has four teams to get to the bowl eligible six wins. It travels to Kentucky Saturday, followed by Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest.

Tennessee has Troy, then Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Vanderbilt Nation believes they can run the table and win eight games. They can lose one of the games, still go 7-5 and go bowling. They can even lose two and qualify, although it would likely put them in Shreveport or Birmingham.

The Big Orange brethren won’t settle for less than winning out. It seems of the two teams, they have the best chance to do that unless banging their heads against top 20 teams has left too many scars.

The two teams play each other Nov. 17 at Vanderbilt Stadium. If Tennessee beats Vanderbilt at home, Franklin’s star becomes a little dimmer. If Vanderbilt beats the Vols, Dooley might as well head to Union Station and hop on a freight train out of town.

Dooley knows what is on the line.

“I think it is all pretty clear that the legacy of this team and the character of this team is going to be defined by how we compete these last four games,’’ he said at his weekly presser.

“We can’t go 4-0 without going 1-0. I told the players that I don’t want to even talk about 4-0. … We have to get a win and we haven’t done that in a while.’’

Dooley calls it a “second season’’ – one that doesn’t include an opponent currently in any of the polls.

For Dooley and Franklin, it will be football’s version of the Final Four.

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee. He can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com. 



Posted on: 10/30/2012

 
 

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