First things first, Coleman is well within his rights to pull the plug and pursue any options available to him. If he's not happy he's virtually obligated to transfer to a school where he can earn a starting job or playing time. He has three years of eligibility with good ability and potential. I believe most Big Orange fans sincerely wish him well.
However the acrimony accompanying his departure served no one's best interest, least of the all the young men he lived with, practiced with and competed with for two years. References to his Chattanooga roots were self serving and a thinly veiled slap at the coaching staff as well as his competition.
Despite the rancorous nature of his parting remarks, there may be a grain of truth to his grievances. He did post better stats in scrimmages and wasn't as turnover prone as Jonathan Crompton. However going against the second team defense he didn't contend with the pass rushing prowess of Chris Walker, Ben Martin, Dan Williams and Monterio Hughes. Walker was virtually unblockable the entire spring, and that alone made passing a dicey proposition.
I'll concede Coleman didn't have the weapons at Crompton's disposal, but if you can't get a rush end blocked on the QB's blind side it doesn't really matter how good you're receivers are. And lets face it, there's not a lot of differences in any ot UT's receivers once you get past Gerald Jones.
Statistics under the most equal of conditions rarely tell the entire story and stats skewered by the vagaries of intra-squad scrimmages in the spring tell only a small part of the story. In this case it says Coleman was better against UT's second team defense than Crompton was against UT's first team defense. And the difference there was marginal.
Presumably there was a diverse variety of factors that went into any evaluation Lane Kiffin made. Besides he didn't exactly hand the job to Crompton at the end of spring, but rather suggested competition would continue into the fall.
Was he playing his cards close to the chest in order to offer a more attractive recruiting pitch to one of the high school seniors the Vols are chasing? I would hope so, especially if he was convinced that UT's signal caller of the future wasn't already on campus. Think about it. Would KIffin have really run the risk of losing Coleman if he thought the redshirt sophomore was the answer to the Vols QB question?
Another point to consider is the matter of leadership and maturity. Certainly those thing weren't apparent in the wake of Coleman's hasty escape. And the importance of intangibles at quarterback can't overstated and shouldn't be underestimated.
Does that mean that Crompton or Nick Stephens possess the intangibles needed to be successful field generals in the incomparable SEC? No it doesn't, but it strongly suggests their intangibles and maturity are superior to Coleman's at this point in their respective careers.
In fact, Crompton could have left long ago but didn't. He has gone through three surgeries in five seasons and has played hurt more than a few times. He waited four years for the chance to be UT's QB 1 and drew an offense that nobody besides Dave Clawson understood.
Since the offensive debacle of last season he has become the whipping boy of message boards, blogs and talk shows. He was booed so much against Florida last season that four-star quarterback Josh Nunes, who attended the game, decided to de-commit from Tennessee and signed with Stanford. As much as many fans had wished Crompton would quit he hasn't. Maybe there will be more tolerance, if not appreciation, for the fifth-year senior who decided to stick it out despite the adversity.
When you get past the right and wrong debate, you're left with the very real predicament facing the Vols this fall as the result of having only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, both with a history of injury. If the Vols are hit by an injury bug like they were in 1994 or 2002 or 2004, they may be asking for volunteers.
Suddenly, Nick Stephens is UT's new fan favorite and 23-year old walk-on Mike Rozier, who has never played college football and last played high school football in 2003, could be critical to UT's 2009 season.
That's the ripple effect of Coleman's exodus.