Derek Dooley to take over Tennessee
Uhhhhhhh, Tennessee. You do know that by hiring a guy with the last name
of Dooley you don't also get 1980 Herschel Walker in the deal.
Derek Dooley is a decent young coaching prospect, but in three years at
Louisiana Tech he went 5-7, 8-5, and 4-8 and is coming off a hugely
Of the 17 wins, only one came against a team that finished with a
winning record, and that was against a 2008 Fresno State squad that went
7-6, the one bowl win was against a Northern Illinois team that finished
6-7, and the only other halfway decent win came last year against
Mississippi State in the season opener.
Tennessee, start burning your mattresses now if you need to because this
just doesn't make sense. Dooley might turn out to be a star and he might
do wonders with the big stage to play on, but based on his résumé and
his body of work, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Mark Richt, and the rest of the
SEC coaches aren't going to have a problem recruiting against the Vols.
Dooley will bring the Kiffin-like energy and he bust his tail to make
this work, but is he the mega-watt star needed to make Tennessee a
superpower again? Alabama went out and bought Saban. Florida will get
Urban Meyer back. If Tennessee wanted to be at that level, it needed to
get itself one of those types of stars. At the moment, Dooley is a guy
and that means Tennessee will be just a program.
The big question will be what can Dooley do to make the Vols special. Is
Tennessee really getting a guy on the upswing? Again, it's not like his
Louisiana Tech career was worthy of a plum gig like this. Meyer
dominated at Bowling Green and Utah before going to Florida. Saban,
Miles, Houston Nutt, and Bobby Petrino were proven winners when they
jumped in the SEC pool. Tennessee is taking a big chance partly because
it likes Dooley and partly because there was no other choice.
Unfortunately, hiring Dooley isn't a face-saver after missing out on
Will Muschamp and David Cutcliffe. This might be a treading water hire,
and now it's up to Dooley to show that he can be more. A lot more.
Lane Kiffin sure did put the rocky in Rocky Top this week when he pulled up stakes and left for the West Coast.
Derek Dooley is a quality football coach. If you want proof, just go ask Nick Saban, who saw his upside a few years back when the two were together at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. He's better than the 17-20 record he had at Louisiana Tech over the last three seasons. He is not, however, ready to be the head coach of Tennessee. A few years from now? Maybe it would have made more sense. Today? It looks like a panic move from a program that's been turned down more than a high school nerd over the past few days.
Will Muschamp would have been a swift recovery for AD Mike Hamilton. David Cutcliffe would have been an upgrade over Kiffin in terms of coaching acumen. Troy Calhoun? He's done a great job at Air Force, so a deft spin doctor could have sold him publicly. Dooley? Yikes. Forgetting that his dad is an SEC legend, there's no imaginable angle that makes this appear to be anything but a disaster in Knoxville. When you're resigned to hire your Plan D, as far as we know, it's a public disgrace that impacts the reputation of a program and its ability to recruit. You can bet there's going to be a feeding frenzy over the next few weeks for those Vol commits now second-guessing their first choice.
There's a lesson in the pain that Tennessee is feeling these days. Choosing style over substance can be dangerous. It might very well have been time to cut ties with Phil Fulmer a little over a year ago, but Kiffin? It's a decision that the Volunteers could regret for many years to come.
1) Wait a minute. Not Vince Dooley, but Derek Dooley? Ha, nice one. This has been a crazy week on the coaching carousel, but that's really funny. Some laughter was needed near the end of the most remarkable three weeks in the history of the college football coaching profession. Good sense of humor there. Well played.
Wait… it's true?! That's not a misprint? It's not Vince? It's not Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun? It's not "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley"? It's not NBA basketball player Keyon Dooling?
What?! You mean I'm supposed to pretend that I can possibly say something intelligent, logical or sensible at a time like this? Derek Dooley? What words could possibly convey, in adequate detail, the shocking nature of this story?
2) Precisely when you thought Lane Kiffin was the undisputed poster child (emphasis on the word "child") for unmerited rewards and undeserved status in college football, someone who went 4-8 at Louisiana Tech this past season, and who never led the Bulldogs within sniffing distance of Boise State in the WAC, just joined him. You should have stuck with Phil Fulmer in the first place, Mike Hamilton. One wonders how you're still employed by the University of Tennessee at this very moment.