Derek Dooley - We'll See..
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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Tennessee, one of the proudest programs in the South, has hired a huge question mark.
When I first heard that Tennessee had hired Derek Dooley as head coach, I was kind of surprised. The name "Dooley" was familiar, but that was about it. I remembered - vaguely - that there was a coach out there in some capacity with that last name, but I couldn't think, right off, who or where that person was. So I looked him up...
I googled "Derek Dooley" and all sorts of things came up from various sports websites across the web...And so I decided to read as many of them as I could. I started with his vital stats on Wikipedia, and quickly I see that he was the head coach at Louisiana Tech! That's right, now I remember...And so I scrolled down to see his record at La Tech, and it was....17-20?!? And 4-8 in 2009?!?
Man, the Tennessee AD really pulled in quite the coaching commodity!
Before this story goes any further, let me see that I am not a UT basher. I really am not. The Vols have a long, storied past of successful football, and their fan base is good 'ole Southern folks - just like myself. So I am not out this morning to sing praises to the Gods that I feel Rocky Top is still on a rocky road. I am just writing down my feelings of what I see Dooley doing in Knoxville...
Georgia and Tennessee are bitter rivals, and I have to wonder if some Tennessee fans aren't just a bit hacked off that their beloved Vols will now be led by a man with Dawg-red in his blood, and a 17-20 career head coaching record. The name "Dooley" will get you a long way in Athens. In Knoxville, well, we will see how this goes....
Now at 41 years old, Dooley isn't a total coaching greenhorn. He started out as a grad assistant at Georgia, after playing his college ball at UVA and practicing law for a few years. He was a wide receivers coach at SMU for two seasons in 1996-1997. He also coached under Nick Saban at both LSU and for the Miami Dolphins. And then, in late 2006, he got his first gig at Louisiana Tech, where he inherited a team that went 3-10 that season. In 2007, he took them to a 5-7 record. In 2008 they improved to 8-4, before slipping back to 4-8 this past season. Improvement? Not sure.
In his personal life, he is certainly no dumb cookie. Besides having earned his law degree from Georgia, he married a doctor! Dr. Allison Jeffereys Dooley is an OBGYN, and they have three children, John Taylor, Peyton and Julianna. So if nothing else, good coaching resume or not, UT fans know they have at least hired a smart guy.
But back to football, and how exactly Dooley will do in the SEC East. This is perennially one of the toughest divisions in the game. Dooley - being the son of legend, Vince - is certainly no stranger to the SEC. He knows the road trips and he knows what to do and say. But knowing the ropes and knowing the right words to say at press conferences will only take you so far. He must win, and that isn't easy.
Tennessee is in as bad of shape now as it has been in in a long time, and it will be very interesting to see how this goes. Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer were each there for over 16 years, and then Kiffin is a one and done - leaving UT with three coaches in a 16 month span. Dooley must not only reunite the fan base (which may be tricky with his resume and UGA blood), he must put a winner back on the field (UT is 12-11 over the last two seasons. I am still baffled that UT fans were calling for Fulmer's dismissal after a 5-7 season in 2008. The Vols were 10-4 and finished #12 in 2007 under the coach who brought them a national title!).
My prediction is that this guy will struggle. When I look at the Urban Meyers and the Nick Sabans and the Mack Browns of the coaching world, they didn't turn in records of 17-20 while cutting their coaching teeth and working their ways up. They took teams that sucked, and they got better each year until they got promoted. Dooley's three year record at Louisiana Tech bases no merit on hiring him for a job as prestigious as UT.
Tennessee has good players as they nearly always recruit well. And a new sense of energy around the program is probably good for a win or two by istelf. And if ever there was a decent enough time to come into the SEC East, I suppose it would be now, as Florida must reload, and UGA is down just a hair. There are plenty of reasons for Tennessee to tell itself there are better days ahead, but I really must say I am uncertain with this hire....
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