Story Poster

When to Stop Digging

September 10, 2019

ATHENS - Could what’s going on at Florida State and Tennesee happen at Georgia?

It is a good question, and the answer is yes. There was a time when Georgia was in the midst of dysfunction - 2015. But even then the program hadn’t gone on a two-year bender the likes of which those two programs are going through right now. 

Both programs changed head coaches in 2018. Both seemingly can’t find the bottom of their mystery. But this is something that’s been coming for a long time in both situations. Administrative incompetence at both schools has resulted in very troubling financial situations.

And the lack of fiduciary responsibility has crippled both the Vols and Noles, who have combined to win four national titles since Georgia’s win in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. Remember the 1990s when FSU and Tennessee went a combined 208-35-3?

I remember it. I remember it well. I remember well the time I was shouted at for about ten minutes by a UT student after the 1998 game in Athens. This was before cell phones, so I had to stay put at the corner of Lumpkin and Broad. His hot take was that Georgia would never beat Tennessee. 

It felt like it that day. 

I wonder if he will have the same take this Saturday in Knoxville when the Vols beat Chattanooga. 


I wonder if he would have the same take this Saturday in Knoxville if the Vols beat Chattanooga.

Institutions wind up in these places because they are too slow to act. They wonder how things could possibly get worse when everyone should know by now that things can always get worse (they can get better, too... with change).

But it’s the same sort of hubris that I saw first hand at the corner of Lumpkin and Broad in October of 1998 that leads to this sort of thing. “Florida State could never been the No. 4 team in Florida. Tennessee will never be a national afterthought.” Both things are true right now, and both things could happen at any school. 

Have a visit to the 1990s to look how bad things were for USC, UGA, Texas and Oklahoma. Remember when Clemson didn’t matter? I remember before 2015 quite well. The 1990s were brutal for the Tigers. Do you think this last decade has been great for the Canes?

It can happen, and it can happen anywhere… even at Georgia. What I would be most concerned about at Tennessee, more so than in Tallahassee, is the ability to recover from this once and for all. 

You can turn on a dime at places like Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida. That might not be quite the case in Knoxville. After all, we are coming close to 20 years since Tennessee played in a bowl game that matters. The Vols still need a little help from outside the state. Nashville is growing, but there simply are not the types of kids you can stock a roster within Tennessee. And that’s taking into account that Memphis has about as much similarity with east Tennessee as it does with Arizona. 

But step one in all of this is for programs that are in the business of driving to stop wrecking the car in the ditch, and then getting a shovel out and dig the ditch even more. 

It is never too late to stop digging. 

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