Sorry, Vols: Tennessee Is The New Michigan

↵Tennessee and Michigan have been programs operating in parallel for a ↵while, both traditional powers with hated rivals one state over (Ohio State and Alabama) that they operate at a significant recruiting handicap against. Michigan won a title in 1997; Tennessee won in 1998. ↵Michigan saw a crusty program icon falter and retire in 2007; Tennessee saw a crusty program icon falter and "retire" in 2008. ↵

↵

↵Both hired somewhat controversial new coaches, although Michigan's actually came with some accomplishments to his name. There's a slight discrepancy because Lane Kiffin didn't walk into a Chernobyl of a quarterback situation. Fifth-year senior Jonathan Crompton wasn't Peyton ↵Manning, but by the end of the year he wasn't a worse ↵idea than a giant catfish, either. The gods of Tennessee-Michigan parallel fates still required a sacrifice. ↵

↵

↵No more. Volunteer QB Nick Stephens has been tied to a rock and the ceremonial knives have ↵been sharpened: ↵

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↵⇥

↵⇥Fifth-year senior quarterback Nick Stephens quit the team with little ↵⇥more than a week remaining in UT's first spring practice under new coach ↵⇥Derek ↵⇥Dooley. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥"In light of the way the first eight practices have gone and some of the competition we have created, he doesn't want to be here," Dooley said after practice. "It was an amicable discussion. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥"He'll probably go look at some places that can assure him of a starting position. We hate to lose Nick but I certainly understand." ↵⇥

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↵

↵This leaves Tennessee with one lightly regarded JUCO transfer and one ↵true freshman at quarterback, a situation similar to Michigan's totally unregarded walk-on (Nick Sheridan) and redshirt freshman square peg (Stephen Threet) combination that saw them implode spectacularly en route to a 3-9 2008. ↵

↵

↵As a bonus for Tennessee, probable starters Bryce Brown and Aaron Douglas have also announced transfers away from the program. This is similar to Michigan losing a host of players in the wake of Rodriguez's hiring, none more prominent and yappy than current Ohio State offensive lineman Justin Boren. Douglas was the only returning OL starter for Tennessee; Boren was one of only two for Michigan. If Douglas transfers to Alabama, a war will break out. That's the only thing that appears to be stopping the creepy coincidences. ↵

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↵All this is compounded by a round of Kiffin-induced departures both coming and going and adds ↵up to this: ↵

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↵⇥

↵⇥Dooley inherited a dangerously thin roster that included: ↵⇥
↵⇥* No returning starter at quarterback ↵⇥
↵⇥* No returning starter on the offensive line ↵⇥
↵⇥* No returning starter at tailback ↵⇥
↵⇥* And no Eric Berry or Dan Williams, last season's two best players ↵⇥
↵⇥In addition to the thin roster (that's getting thinner by the day), Tennessee will face Oregon, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama in its first seven games. ↵⇥

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↵Tennessee has never lost more than seven games in a season. Thanks to ↵what we can now confidently proclaim the worst hire of the decade in college football, it's going to be a minor miracle for that streak to hold up after 2010. At least Derek Dooley has a scapegoat. ↵

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↵(HT: Get The Picture) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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