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Quarterback B.J. Coleman says he is leaving Vols

Staff Report • Apr 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Quarterback B.J. Coleman told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday that he is leaving the Tennessee football team.

“It’s the best move for me,” Coleman said. “What changed my mind is, after this spring, I don’t see myself getting a fair shake. Based on conversations with coaches and things that happened this spring, I feel the staff has goals that do not include me.

“I didn’t just quit. I didn’t just walk out. But I’m going to be taking a huge risk of losing another year of eligibility if I stay. I just want to play ball.”

Coleman, a rising redshirt sophomore, ended spring practice co-bracketed as the No. 1 QB with Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens on the post-spring depth chart. In the Orange and White game, however, Crompton saw all the reps with the first-team offense.

Statistically, Coleman out-performed Crompton in bth the spring game and the final major scrimmage of spring practice. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game.

Coleman gave no indication where he might transfer.

According to a column in The Tennessean, Coleman is putting his ego before the interests of the Vols squad.

Writer David Climer says he's all for self-confidence, especially out of a quarterback. But there's also such a thing as an inflated view of yourself, your abilities and your importance.

Many things have changed at UT in the transition from Phillip Fulmer's tenure to the Kiffin era, but one thing hasn't: The coaches' assessments of Coleman.

The Vols were 3-7 in '08 before Coleman, then a redshirt freshman, finally hit the field. If he was really so good, why didn't he emerge sooner in an offense that was desperate for any hope?

And everybody started with a clean slate under Kiffin but Coleman never made any real headway this spring.

Coleman looks the part … until the ball is snapped. He has a confident air. He commands the huddle. And after the spring game, Coleman won the press conference.

Asked if he thought of himself as a starting quarterback at UT, Coleman said:

"Absolutely — 100 percent. My goal is to be a leader. … The quarterback has to handle adversity. You've got to walk the walk and talk the talk."

But it doesn't help to talk like Peyton Manning if you play like C.J. Leak. SEC games are not won with sound bytes. Neither the deposed coaching staff nor the one that replaced it thought Coleman was up to the task.

And that's the bottom line.

CLICK HERE for Climer's complete column.

Mark Wiedmer, of the Chattanoogaa Tims Free Press, writes that coach Lane Kiffin hinted Coleman was proving to be far better in games than practice, a supposed explanation for why the redshirt sophomore remained behind Crompton on the depth chart despite superior statistics in public scrimmages.

Asked at Tuesday night’s Big Orange Caravan event if he’d ever coached another quarterback with that trait, Kiffin replied, “Matt Leinart,” who just happened to win the 2004 Heisman Trophy while at Southern Cal.

This is not to say that Kiffin should have named Coleman his starting quarterback before Santa Claus came to town. Nor is it to suggest that given a chance, B.J. could have accomplished what Peyton Manning didn’t by winning the Heisman.

But with Thursday’s stunning news that Coleman is leaving the UT program over lack of playing time and some rather immature behavior by Kiffin, a troubling question is no doubt vexing Volniacs throughout the Big Orange Nation:

If Coleman’s former offensive coordinator believes he should have started 12 games this past season instead of none, if Kiffin sees at least glimpes of Leinart in the McCallie School graduate, then why, oh, why will Rocky Top no longer be home, sweet home to No. 18?

To be fair, it is never easy working with other folks’ kids. Not for babysitters. Not for kindergarten teachers. Not for big-time college football coaches forced to deal with a former coach’s recruits.

Coleman did not sign with Kiffin; nor did Kiffin recruit Coleman. They were forced upon each other when the Vols fired Phillip Fulmer.

It is also worth noting that whether or not this judgment is fair, both the previous staff — or at least the former head coach — and the new regime kept Crompton above Coleman on the depth chart. To characterize this slight as nothing more than blind prejudice is to strain credibility.

Whatever coaches like in their quarterbacks during practice, Crompton apparently showed more of it to two different staffs.

CLICK HERE for Wiedmer's column.

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