Disregard my standing in pick em' and ... flip through the staff section of the 2012 UT football media guide and note the background of the coaches.
In case you don't have one handy at all times, I'll break it down for you.
No two members of this year's staff graduated from the same university. Running backs coach Jay Graham is the lone UT alum. None of the others even served prior stints as assistants here.
I'm not insinuating that UT ties automatically translate to success. Nick Saban doesn't have any ties to Alabama, but it certainly couldn't hurt to have a few guys that bleed orange coaching the boys in orange.
Since I've already brought up Alabama, and because UT has resigned itself to a role as the Crimson Tide junior varsity team by hiring Dave Hart, Derek Dooley and Sal Sunseri, we'll start there.
Mal Moore is the athletic director in Tuscaloosa. He is 72 years of age and could realistically retire soon after a lifetime of positive contributions to his alma mater.
Dave Hart is also an Alabama graduate, having played basketball for the Tide. He was the Executive Director of Athletics for Alabama, assisting Moore prior to his arrival at UT.
He would be the natural candidate to replace Moore.
Here's where the magic begins and the dominoes start falling.
Peyton Manning makes a call to the Scarabbean Senior Society at UT, gets them to pull a few strings, and lifelong Vol Phillip Fulmer gets appointed as the AD.
As a UT loyalist and staunch supporter of the UT brand, Fulmer, a former player, assistant and head of the Vols program, begins asserting his new power.
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe. He has improved Duke from the Kentucky of the ACC, into the leader of the conference's Coastal Division. Turning UT into a top 25 academic institution is an easier task than that. At the age of 58, he's not the long term solution, but Fulmer brings him in to provide much needed stability — but of course only until Peyton's playing days are over.
Tennessee Ties: assistant coach — 1982-98, 2006-07
Offensive Coordinator: Tee Martin. He may not quite be ready yet, but Cutcliffe hires away his former player from Lane Kiffin at USC to orchestrate Tennessee's offense. He exceeded expectations on the field, winning a national championship in the footsteps of Peyton, so who says he won't exceed expectations in the press box as well.
Tennessee Ties: quarterback — 1996-99
Defensive Coordinator: John Chavis. With the persuasion of his former colleagues, Chavis leaves Baton Rouge and a stout LSU defense for a return to his alma mater. After all, he's got to be sick of having a boss who eats grass.
Tennessee ties: player — 1976-78; assistant coach — 1989-2008
Quarterbacks Coach: Andy Kelly. He threw for over 800 touchdowns in his professional career. Granted, it was in the Arena Football League. Kelly is a Rhea County boy, and currently works on UT football radio broadcasts. He has shown interest in coaching in the past.
Tennessee ties: quarterback — 1988-91
Receivers Coach: George Quarles. The Maryville High School head coach has experienced an astronomical amount of success down the road in Blount County. His team appears on its way to another state title in 2012. He played receiver at Furman in the 1980s after attending high school in Jefferson County.
Tennessee ties: Geographical, though he did interview for a position on Fulmer's staff in 2008.
Running Backs Coach: Jay Graham. As the lone remnant of the prior staff, Graham would serve as a liaison between his players and the new coaches. The improvement of Rajion Neal has been noticeable under Graham in 2012.
Tennessee ties: running back — 1993-96; assistant coach — 2012
Linebackers Coach: Kevin Simon. He was a force at linebacker under Chavis and Fulmer as a part of two SEC East champion teams (01, 04) and is most recently believed to be working as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys. Who knows if he can coach, but why not find out?
Tennessee ties: linebacker — 2001-04; graduate assistant — 2007-?
Special Teams Coach: James Wilhoit. His 51-yarder in 2004 sealed UT's last win against Florida. He's developed an independent career as a kicking coach.
Tennessee ties: kicker — 2003-06
Defensive Backs/Recruiting Specialist/Assistant Head Coach: Trooper Taylor. Would you believe he's 42? The former Vol is onboard a sinking ship at Auburn. He played defensive back at Baylor in his playing days. Fans loved him during his first stint.
Tennessee ties: assistant coach — 2004-07
I'll leave the rest of the personnel decisions up to Fulmer and his staff.
Is this scenario feasible? Absolutely not. It's not realistic, even remotely, to think that UT would consider any of these coaches, except maybe Martin in a lesser role down the road.
And that's a shame because I have a feeling this hypothetical Volunteer squad could make a lot of people proud.
Mike Hamilton was a fundraiser, not a football mind, and when he let Fulmer go, he let UT football slip headlong into something stereotypical. He turned football exclusively into a business venture, abandoning many of the things that made it so great at UT.
It's different from when Johnny Majors was forced out. Back then there was a beacon of hope in the form of an up-and-coming coach on the sideline who knew nothing else aside from Tennessee football.
Unless this season takes a turn for the better, the only hope will be that the third time is a charm with Jon Gruden.
— David Cobb is a sophomore in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.