A week from Thursday will mark the opening of a new era of Tennessee Football for the second straight year.
Vol fans will face their second straight spring football under a new head coach, having a lot of unanswered questions about the program including who will be the starters coming out of this spring heading into the fall.
"No one knows what to expect from new head coach Derek Dooley and his new coaching staff," said one veteran sports writer. "This is the second straight year that we have watched a new offense and defensive system be installed. There are a lot of unanswered questions."
After 17 years of having Phil Fulmer as the head coach and a lot of stability, this Volunteer football team probably feels that they have been on one heck of a rollercoaster ride the last 24 months.
It's fair to say it that it will take this team some time to get use to yet another change, another system and a new set of rules.
It's normal during a coaching change and transition that most starting positions are open for grabs, that the starting lineup is etched in sand per say.
Last year's first year head coach Lane Kiffin made it quite clear that no one's starting job was safe, not even a three year starter at center. Kiffin's and his staff were big about competition at every position from water boy to defensive tackle. While we expect that to be the case this spring, there are still a lot of unknowns on how practices will be conducted etc.
Unlike Kiffin, Dooley is keeping everything very close to the vest.
He has declined interview request by the dozens, to focus on getting his staff and team ready for spring football. Being a disciple of Nick Saban also tells the media and fans that Dooley probably isn't as big of fan of getting information out as much as his last predecessor was.
"The difference between the two is like daylight and dark," another media member stated. "You had one coach shouting for the roof tops to get attention for him and his program while now you have a coach that isn't talking much to anyone."
Kiffin's motto was any good media attention is good for the program, regardless of what kind it was.
Many Volunteer fans liked that approach until it became embarrassing at times. Including when three Vol Football players were arrested in the fall, with one of them wearing his "Anything is Possible" UT Practice shirt.
Dooley told Vol faithful and his new team on his first night in Knoxville that he wasn't going to ask everyone to trust him, but he was going to work hard to earn their trust.
While it's still uncertain how much access the media will receive this spring and fall, one thing this writer has learned over the years is the fact that you have to make do with you're given, no matter how much or how little it might be.
Media day for spring ball will be March 17th with practice beginning the next day on the 18th.
One thing is for sure, Dooley is taking a different approach to things.
Different isn't always a bad thing and while things aren't exciting and electric as they were this time last year, doesn't mean things won't be better overall this fall.
"It's very refreshing that we don't have someone screaming and yelling for attention all the time," said one longtime Vol fan. "All the excitement last spring was fun at first, but got very old very fast. It's all about the University of Tennessee, not about one single coach or coaching staff."
It appears that Dooley gets that and will approach all the Tennessee traditions with a lot more passion than the other guy. That in itself has earned him a lot of credit among many Volunteer faithful.
Stay tuned, we will learn more about what to expect at practices, with the team and the new coaching staff in the days to come.