Rocky Top Notes

For the first time, I heard Jerry Green say he didn't handle things well his final season at Tennessee.

For the first time, I heard some remorse in his voice, some semblance of taking blame.

Until recently, Green for four years had always pointed the finger, blaming former UT president Dr. Wade Guilley, blaming former UT athletic director Doug Dickey.

But in a recent interview, he had this to say: ``I didn't handle it very well that last year, as well as maybe I could have. We were 22-11 (after a 16-1 start), we lost a few down the line (10 of 16). Maybe I could have done a better job.

``But there's a lot of schools in the country that would love to go 22-11 and we did have some good players and good coaches. Tennessee is an outstanding school and the right person in there can make it go again.''

Asked what he meant when he said he could have handled things better, Green said: ``I probably put more pressure on myself listening and watching (from) … outside entities. To be very honest, if the decision was made again to coach another year or not coach another year, I'd probably taken that other year.

``Hindsight's no good in this game. At that particular time, I felt that (taking a buyout of $1.2 million) was best for me. Maybe if I had that to do over, I'd do it differently, but you don't get that opportunity.''

Green said Dickey offered him a chance to coach one more year or take a buyout. Green, of course, took the buyout.

Late in his tenure as UT's basketball coach, Green said if the administration didn't like what he was doing, they could hire one of those ``great'' coaches like Wade Houston, Don DeVoe or Kevin O'Neill. It was as direct challenge to his bosses.

Green didn't remember saying that.

``Well, if I said that, I certainly didn't mean it,'' Green said.

Green did say he felt strongly that Guilley is the man that wanted him fired.

``He had a major part in telling Dickey what to do and what to say and what to think and how to approach that situation,'' Green said.

Green said he got bored playing golf and fishing, which is why he recently accepted a job as director of basketball operations at Oklahoma. It wasn't the first time he got bored in retirement.

Green said he isn't sure if he wants to be a head coach again.

``I could rebuild another program if I took a notion to,'' Green said. ``Whether or not that will come to be for real, I'm not sure.''

Green said he was surprised that Buzz Peterson was only two games above .500 after four years at Tennessee.

``It wasn't like he was left without a lot of talent,'' Green said.

Asked the best player he coached at Tennessee, Green took the Fifth.

``I wouldn't want to get involved with that because it could hurt somebody's feelings and I think there's been enough hurt feelings over me being at Tennessee in a lot of ways,'' Green said.

* has a high opinion of the Tennessee football team.

It ranks the Vols' offense No. 3 in the nation and the defense No. 4. No other program gets such high marks on both sides of the ball.

LSU comes closest at No. 2 on offense and No. 7 on defense.

USC has the No. 1 offense and the No. 17 defense.

Here's a look at some offensive rankings: 1. USC, 2. LSU, 3. Tennessee, 4. Florida, 5. Michigan, 7. Georgia, 27. Arkansas, 30. Auburn, 60. Ole Miss, 62. Alabama, 65. South Carolina, 75. Vanderbilt, 80. Kentucky, 91. Mississippi State.

LSU is overrated, Alabama vastly underrated.

Here are the defensive rankings: 1. Miami, 2. Penn State, 3. Alabama, 4. Tennessee, 5. Ohio State, 6. Auburn, 7. LSU, 11. Georgia, 20. Florida, 27. South Carolina, 36. Ole Miss, 58. Mississippi State, 68. Kentucky, 71. Arkansas, 78. Vanderbilt.

Florida is overrated and Arkansas is underrated.

* Dennis Dodd of covered four conference media days. He was at the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 confabs.

The most impressive thing he saw: Fulmer in Birmingham.

Dodd said Fulmer's opening statement was ``fantastic'' in the print room. ``Whether you love him or hate him, he controlled the message. The guy wasn't going to let the situation or the past affect him. He just bulled right ahead and basically said, `Screw you, Alabama, let's move on.''

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