Woody's Ward: Accountability 101
You know that feeling that you get in mid-April when tax season rolls around? The one where you financially expose yourself to the IRS. It's the paper equivalent of having to pee in a cup or turn your head and cough. Most people have a pretty good idea of what the overall outcome will be, but that doesn't relieve them of that general feeling of anxiety.
If you know that feeling, then you probably understand the sensation that college football coaches feel in the immediate aftermath of the season. For some, the pressure cooker that comes with postseason reflection can be prolonged by bowl season while for others, the feeling is magnified by the failure to qualify for the postseason altogether. For the latter, late-November is the proverbial "tax season" and the FRS (Fan Review Service) is already peeling through every detail of a season.
However, these coaches don't have the exclusivity of a couple of semi-qualified accountants pouring over their financials, they have to deal with the scrutiny of an entire fanbase, some competent and others not. It's like turning in your 1040 knowing you've got a 50/50 chance between being reviewed by a summa cum laude graduate with a calculator or a sixth-grade dropout with a crayon.
Granted, it's not exactly as cut and dry when it comes to fans, as some are moderately stupid and others are moderately smart, but you get the picture. That being said, it doesn't excuse coaches like Derek Dooley from being held accountable.
For those of you that know me, you know I've been fairly supportive of Derek Dooley throughout his time in Tennessee and even as the Volunteer Nation continues to fracture I'm still comfortable enough to say that he deserves AT LEAST one more year. Yet, where there was once a reasonable amount of confidence there's now an aura of diffidence to say the least.
Since Derek Dooley's opening press conference, a lot of people have taken a liking to Derek Dooley's style. He's been pined as the anti-Kiffin, and the vast majority of the fanbase bought in at one point or another. Nevertheless, as is the case with traditionally successful college football programs, the fans are largely substance over style in nature.
Derek Dooley may say the right things (as one Tennessee blogger would refer to as "Corporacracy") but the fact of the matter is that he simply hasn't provided the "substance" that we all desire. Dooley may not have overtly promised anything like his predecessor, but when you take the job at the University of Tennessee there are certain promises that are inferred.
Wins over Florida, Georgia and Alabama are expected. Wins over Vandy and Kentucky are demanded. Simply put, success is required.
There's no questioning the difficulty of the situation that Derek Dooley came into, but time is running short, and the excuses he's propped this program up on won't cut it in 2012. Dooley will get his chance next year to prove definitively whether or not he's the right man for the job but it's also time for a certain level of accountability.
It will be the buzz word, and the thing that he will be defined by. Personally, I don't know what to expect from Dooley and the Vols in 2012 in terms of wins and losses, but EVERYONE should expect accountability.