1958: Tennessee suffers a 14-6 home-field loss to Chattanooga.
1975: Tennessee suffers a 21-14 home-field loss to North Texas State.
1978: Tennessee suffers a 13-7 homecoming loss to Rutgers.
1996: Tennessee suffers a 21-17 loss at Memphis.
2008: Tennessee suffers a 13-7 home-field loss to Wyoming.
The odds of the 2010 Vols losing Saturday night's opener vs. UT Martin of the Football Championship Subdivision appear prohibitive. But the odds also appeared prohibitive in '58 against Chattanooga, in '75 against North Texas, in '78 against Rutgers, in '96 against Memphis and in '08 against Wyoming.
First-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley understands that superior teams routinely struggle with lesser opponents. That's why he tends to flatter his foes by emphasizing their strengths, much as Vince Dooley did during his storied coaching career at the University of Georgia.
"We used to joke about that as kids - until you get into coaching, and you realize he was right," Derek Dooley said. "For every time that you overlook somebody or you don't take them seriously, you get embarrassed."
Whereas Lou Holtz used to make each upcoming opponent sound like a national championship contender, the respect Vince Dooley showed opponents was a bit more subtle.
"I think the biggest thing that my dad always did (was emphasize that) you always have to prepare for their best because that's what you should expect them to bring," Derek Dooley said. "If they don't bring their best, there's nothing you can do about that. But if you prepare for their best, and you expect their best, then you're going to be ready."
That's the approach the younger Dooley is taking as he puts the finishing touches on preparations for Saturday night's opener vs. UT Martin.
"We're going to prepare for Martin's best," the Vol coach said, "and Martin's best is good enough to beat us if we don't come ready to play."
That's exactly the kind of thing Vince used to say when he was preparing to face a nondescript opponent, usually drawing a laugh from his son.
"Yeah, I made fun of him all the time," Derek Dooley recalled. "But that's part of being an immature 11-year-old ... just like my son. He does the same thing with me."