t's always fun to brag when you're right, but for the braggadocio to have an ounce of credibility, you have to admit it when you're wrong. And boy, was I wrong about David Cutcliffe's ability to play the role of miracle-worker with the Tennessee offense.
It's early October and thanks in large part to Cutcliffe's return to Tennessee as the Volunteers' offensive coordinator, the guys in orange and white are scoring points in bunches.
Witness as Example No. 1 Tennessee's shellacking of Georgia's previously No. 1-ranked scoring defense on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Tennessee scored 51 points, drawing rave reviews and the start of a new club in Knoxville.
"The Half-a-Hundred Club is what we'd been talking about trying to get to, and it was a whole team effort to get us there," quarterback Erik Ainge told The (Nashville) Tennessean.
The win over Georgia allowed Tennessee to stay alive in the SEC East race, moved the Volunteers to No. 8 in the latest AP Top 25 poll and pushed Ainge up to sixth nationally in passing efficiency. So while Alabama fights a letdown against Ole Miss Saturday, Tennessee takes a week off to further refine its offense and let several players heal.
Tennessee's offensive numbers right now are polar opposite of where the Vols were a year ago under Randy Sanders. Tennessee is tied for 11th nationally in scoring offense (35.2 points per game) and is 16th nationally in total offense (421.5 yards). The Volunteers lead the SEC in both categories.
However, the infatuation with Cutcliffe as a head-coaching candidate is borderline comical. He failed as a recruiter at Ole Miss and lost games on the Rebels' sideline that should provide pause for any school thinking of putting its program in his hands.
Oxford, Miss., native Jeffrey Dukes would be at Ole Miss today if Cutcliffe had offered a scholarship or showed any sign of interest. He didn't, so Dukes starts in Alabama's secondary today. Had Dukes signed with Ole Miss, there's a decent chance Justin Woodall would be in Ole Miss red and blue and not Alabama crimson and houndstooth Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Cutcliffe never bothered to recruit Jimmy Johns, badly misevaluated Jerious Norwood, lost Xavier Mitchell and Parys Haralson to Tennessee, Will Arnold to Tennessee and Quintin Culberson to Mississippi State.
He failed to replace quality assistants with competent replacements and was overly loyal to obviously incompetent staffers. He lost the support of key Ole Miss boosters when he flirted with other job possibilities and then openly pursued an opening at Kentucky.
Most importantly, perhaps, Cutcliffe failed to acquire anything resembling a competent successor to Eli Manning when Archie's youngest left for the NFL's New York Giants.
So, yes, Cutcliffe is inarguably one of the best offensive coordinators in the country. Perhaps he has learned from his mistakes at Ole Miss and will one day make a great head coach. However, some in the media are getting it wrong when they play the role of revisionist historians.