When I interviewed Tennessee Interim Athletic Director Joan Cronan earlier this summer, she quoted part of her favorite Bible verse, Luke 12:48:

“To whom much is given, much is expected.”

 Wednesday night, UT football coach Derek Dooley echoed a similar statement regarding the dismissal of All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson.

“This is serious business, this (football) program, and I tell the players that every day. It’s not a game, it’s serious business,” Dooley said. “It impacts a lot of people’s lives, and you’ve got a responsibility, and I told them, if you don’t want to uphold that responsibility, I’m O.K. Doesn’t mean I don’t like you, but I’m going to help you go somewhere else. And go somewhere where it’s not as big of a responsibility.

“They chose to come here and when you choose to come here, you’re choosing a level of responsibility that we expect you to uphold. And if you don’t, there are consequences.”

Jackson’s off-the-field issues finally caught up to him. Just 11 days before UT kicks off the 2011 season.

Former UT men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl also learned the consequences on Wednesday for lying to the NCAA. Pearl is essentially banned from coaching at any NCAA school for three years after receiving a show-cause penalty.

On the court, UT is worse now that Pearl and his orange blazer are gone. Likewise on the gridiron. Jackson, the team’s most talented player, further depletes a roster that didn’t need depleting.

But as was the case when former UT men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton and others involved let Pearl go, Dooley’s decision to dismiss Jackson makes the football program, and the university as a whole, better, despite the potential changes in the wins and losses.

“Disappointment’s a part of life,” Dooley said, “and sometimes, the only real way to figure out how to get our life going in the right direction is by some very difficult things happening to your life.

“Was it difficult? Yes, but my responsibility is to this organization and my responsibility is to our young people and I think the decision we made was in the best interest of both.”

Pearl was given a dream job by UT, and in his six years led the Vols to unprecedented success. Jackson was also given an opportunity thousands of high school football players dream about: playing with a Power T on their helmet.

But on Wednesday, if they hadn’t already, they were woken up from their dream because the university needed to move on without them.

“If you’re going to do something, you’ve got to think about this organization’s reputation and every day you represent something big,” senior tailback Tauren Poole said Wednesday. “It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than Coach (Dooley), and he said this program is going to be here a long time after us.”

And if the football program is bigger than Dooley, the men’s basketball program is bigger than Pearl.

The influence star players like Jackson and head coaches like Dooley and Pearl have is far-reaching.

Just look at the overflowing support Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt has received since announcing publicly on

Tuesday she has early onset dementia, a type of Alzheimer’s.

Summitt’s health will impact her ability to coach at the level she has for the past 37 seasons. Already with the most career victories of any NCAA basketball coach, men’s or women’s, each win from here on out, beginning with number 1,072, will have a more special meaning.

And on a much, much smaller scale, each victory Dooley earns without Jackson roaming the secondary, and each win Cuonzo Martin notches as men’s basketball coach, will be a positive step for UT going forward.

 “A bright future is on the horizon for Tennessee athletics,” Cronan said in her statement regarding Summitt’s illness.

While that may not be a “given,” UT fans should “expect” that, if this week is any indication.


— Matt is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at mdixon3@utk.edu. He can be followed on Twitter at @MattDixon3.