For Vol fanatics, however, the show probably was worth the wait.
The 30-minute special offered few insights into the upcoming 2008 UT football season and a somewhat toned-down view of practice-field etiquette. Clearly mindful of the network's cameras and microphones, Vol coaches kept their language and their intensity in check. Except for a few gruff utterances, the practice mood was universally light-hearted and upbeat.
Even so, the half-hour documentary proved somewhat entertaining. Particularly intriguing was the practice-field demeanor of new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson. At one point, he literally skipped like a school girl while reacting to a poorly executed play. Installing a new offense, he explained, is a “pains-taking process.” Obviously.
The show's saving grace was some candid comments from head coach Phillip Fulmer. For instance:
ON SPRING PRACTICE: “To me, spring practice is the best time of year there is. You don't have the pressures of games that are coming up and preparing for games. You're working with your older guys to get them better but primarily you're working with younger guys to see kind of where they're going to be able to fit. It's like putting a puzzle together almost every spring.”
ON THE WIDESPREAD PERCEPTION OF HIM: “I have this air, I guess, of (being) a little bit laid-back or whatever, and that is about as far away from the way it really is as it possibly can be.”
Clawson conceded that Fulmer is not the man he expected him to be after watching him from afar.
“When you don't know somebody personally and you only see them on TV, I think there's kind of an image,” Clawson said. “Then you get to know the person, and he's just extremely personable and very value-oriented. Family is extremely important to him, and I think really that's the foundation on which he has built the program.”
Defensive coordinator John Chavis, who exhibited a few brief flashes of his patented practice-field fire, shared some interesting thoughts on his role in the overall scheme of things.
“If you're going to win championships, you win championships with defense,” he said. “I feel that responsibility, being at Tennessee, to make sure that we're putting a great defense on the field every year.”
Fans expecting a no-holds-barred expose' of Tennessee football's inner workings will find this show a little disappointing. Those merely looking for a 30-minute booster shot to keep them going until preseason drills begin in August, however, just might find the show to be a real godsend.
"Under The Lights: Tennessee Football" will be
replayed May 26 at 10:30, May 30 at 5:30 and May 31 at 5:30.