By Steve Williams
I’m not going to make any predictions on the University of Tennessee’s upcoming football season. But I happened to come across a homemade UT Wishing Well a few weeks ago, which has put me in the mood to make some wishes.
First of all, I wish Tennessee had never dumped Phillip Fulmer, the second winningest coach in the school’s history.
Now, five years later, I wish Butch Jones would stop asking UT fans to be patient. Thousands of UT fans had been patient for four years before he ever got here. There’s a limit to seeing a football program spin its wheels after so long.
Since 1909, Tennessee’s tradition-rich program had not had back-to-back losing seasons until its current four-year tailspin.
I wish Tennessee could have bounced back as fast as Auburn did. Like the Vols, the Tigers were 5-7 in 2008 and fired its coach (Tommy Tuberville). But Auburn, under new coach Gene Chizik, won a BCS national championship in 2010.
When Auburn dropped to 3-9 in 2012, the Tigers quickly replaced Chizik with Gus Malzahn and he promptly led the way to a national runner-up finish last season. Auburn is regarded as a national title contender again this year.
While Auburn returned to the top, Tennessee lost ground under previous coaches Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.
I wish former UT athletic director Mike Hamilton would give back that buyout he received on his way out the door, after the mess he left behind.
I wish college football coaches were paid a base salary plus so much extra per win. Coach Jones averaged around $600,000 for each of his five wins last year at Tennessee.
I wish Jones would utilize an offensive system that fits his quarterback. Justin Worley will be Tennessee’s No. 1 quarterback at the start of the season again, and he’s a pro-style quarterback having to operate a zone-read offense.
We saw that last year. Worley doesn’t scare opposing defenses with his mobility. Yet, Tennessee is still trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.
For his perseverance and hard work, I wish Nathan Peterman would get another opportunity at quarterback I don’t want to see Worley get hurt or anything like that. But wouldn’t it be neat if Peterman, who was woeful in The Swamp last year, got in against Florida this season and the Vols rode his hot hand to victory.
I wish UT would offer a scholarship to every player in the state who is a major college prospect, especially the linemen. We’ve let too many of them get away in the past.
I wish Marquez North would catch 60 passes, Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd would rush for 1,000 yards apiece, A.J. Johnson would make 100 stops and the defensive backs would combine to make 25 interceptions in 2014.
I wish Bob Stoops and his top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners would take Tennessee for granted.
I wish Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, would be served a subpoena for something when he makes his return to Neyland Stadium.
I wish the ole ball coach would have reason to throw his visor 10 times when the Vols come calling Nov. 1.
I wish Smokey would get a chance to do a little number on Kiffin.
I wish UT would add another Jumbotron so fans in the south end of Neyland Stadium also could see replays and other video attractions.
I wish UT would play August and September games at night and October and November games in the day.
I wish college football had never sold control of its great game to TV.
Last but not least, I wish the Vols would win the SEC East and go bowling, putting an end to the cries for patience.