Maybe it's my fault.
I had never thought about it until this weekend, but the Vols are in a rut and since you're looking for someone to take the blame, point your fingers my way.
Every Monday, I sit at Buzz Peterson's weekly press conference in Arena Dining inside Thompson-Boling and eat the same thing - pasta with chicken and a ton of parmesan cheese.
Throw in the same cheese roll of evil and a nutty buddy and you have the makings of 10-loss season. Sorry, Buzz... I don't know what I was thinking.
Every week I stare at you from across the dinner table, surrounded by reporters and Bob Kesling talking about cottage cheese (I don't know either), and I feed nothing but boring consistency into that Western North Carolina brain of yours.
I'm sorry. While I eat the same thing, you keep on saying the same thing.
You talk about your youth. You talk about how quiet your team is. You talk about trying different travel methods to win on the road - I've heard it all.
It never changes. UT plays at home, Scooter McFadgon shoots a bunch (and hits them), some youngin' steps up and the Vols roll - all is well in the Peterson home.
Then UT plays on the road, Scooter still shoots a bunch (they don't go in), some youngin' screws up and the Vols lose - Peterson reaches for the sleeping pills.
It's been going on for weeks now. But, sadly, there isn't any time left and it appears Tennessee won't be getting any dates to the Big Dance.
And don't expect the Vols to do the asking. Like the quiet freshmen standing on the back wall, no one in this particular group of Vols has the fire to lead UT to the NCAA Tournament.
The talent is there but the personality is not. Through it all, Buzz suffers more. Consider the things Peterson has dealt with in his three years in Knoxville.
Season One: Buzzy takes over a team full of talent (two NBA draft picks) and has to reteach all the inadequacies of the Jerry Green era. The Vols finish 15-16, with several losses on last-second shots.
Gray hairs start to appear.
Season Two: Recruits come in, Ron Slay is a beast but the close losses are still there. Peterson ends the season a respectable 17-12, but loses star guard Jon Higgins to the Calculus Department (he missed some math requirements) before the season ends.
The Vols fall apart, losing their first game of the SEC Tournament and get blown away in the NIT.
The gray hairs start falling out.
Season Three: Slay is gone, but depth is improved. Well, that was until Brandon Crump went and broke his jaw on Elgrace Wilborn's hand.
Wilborn transfers and the Vols are left as one of the youngest teams in the country. The result - bipolar play allowing strong home games and foul road losses.
This season, Tennessee has lost by deficits of 38, 21, 22, 17, 13 and 11 on the road in the SEC.
As Higgins could now probably show you in the form of a scatter plot graph, things are getting better, albeit too slowly. I think Buzz has turned to Rogaine.
So the question remains whether all this turmoil is just circumstance or if Peterson is to blame? My money is on circumstance.
Throw out Buzz and insert Bobby Knight and what do you get? Well, after he finished choking Stanley Asumnu for his shooting style, he would scare off C.J. Watson and probably Scooter too (don't worry, Fred Smithwick would still be around).
Throw Peterson to the street and insert Roy Williams and what happens? Well, pretty much the same thing. Williams is experiencing his own problems at North Carolina with youth, but he has the virtue of more talent.
And just so one of my Duke loving writers (um ... Matt Giles) doesn't think I'm biased, what would happen if you threw in Coach K?
Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski would have trouble with this group. I'm not saying the greatest man to ever coach NBA disappointments would be 13-10, but bad defense is still bad defense.
The Vols like to shoot and not defend. Maybe in the offseason they can learn to do both.
We now know they will have plenty of extra time to do so with tournament expectations out of the way. That is unless of course next Monday I get a salad.
Then maybe they'd win a road game.
- Glenn LaFollette is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in broadcasting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columnist to blame for Vol road troubles
Published: Tue Feb 24, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:52 p.m.