Granted PF promised he would take his time, but he also set a target date, if not a deadline, for completing the process. Now that he's where he is, he might want to take a little longer instead of rushing into a bad decision just to oblige an arbitrary timeframe. Obviously the longer he waits the more pressure it puts on the recruiting process, but that might be something of a lost cause anyway, given that we're 29 days from National Signing Day.
The Vols main need on offense is a wide receiver that can fill the role that Kenny O'Neal and Brent Vinson didn't. Fortunately this is the deepest class for receivers that I can recall in my 12-year tour of duty on the frontlines. There's several superb prospects to be had and it would be a travesty if Tennessee doesn't get at least one of them, given its needs and the glut of quality candidates available.
The Volunteers need size, speed, strength and athleticism in a single package. They also need that package to be SEC ready. They need someone like Robert Meachem only more advanced. Meachem didn't hit his stride until his fourth season which demonstrates the difficultly of finding someone with the maturity to make an immediate impact. There's no better example of type I'm talking about than Eric Berry.
There doesn't appear to be any solutions on the Junior College circuit at the moment. Last year the Vols were close to landing Demetrice Byrd who ended up at LSU. Irony of ironies he was influenced to go to Baton Rouge by Tennessee's standing commitments from O'Neal and Vincent.
At any rate the empty void on the offensive coaching staff places UT at a distinct disadvantaged in attracting and signing talent. In fact the only thing worst would be waiting this long and not landing an exciting, dynamic O.C. or a recognized and respected veteran play-caller.
Fulmer also needs to hit a home run with the fans since he raised hopes significantly by hyping the array of all-star candidates he had clamoring for the position. If he swings and misses and Trooper Taylor is a hit in his first season as Co-OC at OSU the backlash will be severe.
The forgotten man in this Greek passion play or serial saga is Jonathan Crompton, a five-star All-American QB who committed to UT as a sophomore when Randy Sanders was O.C. Shoulder surgery cost J.C. that first season and a chance to get in on the wide open QB derby that erupted in 2005. Then he waited two years in cold storage behind E.A. Sports. That was a bad place to be since UT's staff was in perpetual damage control with Eric's fragile psyche often at the expense of Crompton's confidence and development.
Now with Ainge gone the way of graduation (and if we're to believe Fulmer on his way to being a first round draft choice) it''s finally Crompton's team to lead. And he's waiting for his third O.C. to arrive while the Vols leading receiver is out of spring practice following — whatelse but shoulder surgery? Will J.C. have to learn a new or greatly revised system? Or will he be a Fulmer flunky, a puppet, a stooge, a beard, a sacrificial scapegoat to appease the coliseum mob?
If it is, it's a big mistake. This is a situation that requires critical thinking, a fresh perspective and strong conviction. The Vols need an O.C. with the gravitas to stand his ground and fight for his ideas. He should be able to analyze, adjust and inspire.
Hopefully it's someone who knows how to groom a QB and is willing to invest as much time and effort into getting the best out of Crompton that Cutcliffe spent getting Ainge game ready. No one can say the North Carolina native hasn't paid his dues. And then some. It's interesting to note that three years ago this month Crompton got a phone call from New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who had just been named head coach at Notre Dame. Weis had studied film of the best QB prospects in the country and wanted J.C. playing in front of "Touchdown Jesus" in South Bend — to say nothing of the millions that followed the Fighting Irish on the National Broadcast Company. Weis complimented Crompton as the country's best senior quarterback and expressed his eagerness to work with the talented prospect. Undoubtedly, recruiters like to lay it on thick, but Weis' statements ring true considering that if he was willing to spend time pursuing a prospect that had been committed for two years. Taught by David and Janet Crompton to be polite and respectful of his elders, 17 year-old Jonathan listened carefully to Weis' pitch, thanked him for calling and declined the offer. It was one of many offers he turned down after committing to UT.
The kicker: Weis was calling from the New England Patriots' locker room — during halftime of the Super Bowl.
The ancient Greeks bards were right. There's a thin line between comedy and tragedy.
What Tennessee really needs now is a Homer from Fulmer.