Inside look at UT?

Tennessee football fans suffering withdrawal pains now that spring practice has ended, take heart: Help may be on the way.

A behind-the-scenes look at the Vols called "Under the Lights: Tennessee Football" will air Tuesday night at 10:30 on SportSouth, with replays scheduled May 26 at 10:30, May 30 at 5:30 and May 31 at 5:30.

The folks at SportSouth convinced head coach Phillip Fulmer, offensive coordinator Dave Clawson and defensive coordinator John Chavis to wear microphones in scrimmage and Orange & White Game action during the Vols' recent spring practice.

SportSouth general manager Jeff Genthner promises that "Under the Lights" will provide viewers the chance to view a world "that historically only the athletes, coaches and a select few with media credentials have experienced."

Actually, even the "select few with media credentials" don't get to view this particular world since Fulmer elected a few years back to ban media from all but the first 20 minutes of practice. That's why a lot of media types – including this one – will be tuned in Tuesday night ... to see what we're missing.

It should be fascinating to see how Clawson operates on the practice field. The first-year quarterback coach/coordinator remains very much an unknown quantity, since his only visibility to date has been in post-practice and news-conference situations. He appears to be low-key and analytical, which raises the question: Is there fire beneath that calm exterior? Perhaps the answer to that question will be revealed Tuesday night.

There's plenty of fire beneath Chavis' exterior, and it will be interesting to see how much of that fire has made its way into this particular documentary. Chavis' actions can get animated and his language a tad colorful at times, so his segments could be especially entertaining.

Even Fulmer, who tends to choose his words with extreme caution in dealings with the press, could exhibit uncharacteristic candor if the show delivers on its promise to reveal "the conversations in the huddle, on the sidelines and in the locker rooms."

Hopefully, Fulmer, Clawson and Chavis did not tone down their behavior in deference to the cameras and microphones. Hopefully, the producers did not whitewash the final product by editing out the scenes featuring butts being chewed, harsh words being spewed, etc.

If all viewers get to see is coaches teaching techniques and exhorting their troops in squeaky-clean language, this telecast will be little more than most of its predecessors - a lame public-relations vehicle.

But maybe, just maybe, the show will provide a close-up look at a world that even the media no longer finds accessible. If so, "Under The Lights" could be a refreshing oasis in the desert known as college football's offseason.


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