Tennessee Football: Even 9 Wins Not Enough for Dooley in Year 3 with Some Fans

Kevin King@kevin glen kingSenior Analyst IIAugust 27, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12:   Head Coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers signals to the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Volunteers 49 to 7.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Fire the coach!

Never mind the school signed a contract stating he has four years to complete the rebuilding project. 

His team played uninspired ball on the final game of the second year—so fire him now!

Know any coach who is in a situation similar to the one I am describing here? I get it. That is why the word fan is short for fanatic.

But, I thought the fanatical part was referring to how people express their loyalties to the team. You know, by wearing apparel and having stickers on their cars, signs in the yard, etc.

I didn't realize that being a fan made it OK to forget common business practices—like being fair, living up to your contractual obligations, etc.—that are the backbone of the business world.

Thank goodness the people who make the decisions at Tennessee actually do follow fair business practices. In short, we fans can yell fire them all we want, but the administration is going to follow accepted business practices.

In doing so, they will follow the terms of the deal. Making decisions within the scope of that agreement, based on what they determine is in the best interest of the school 

Now, you would figure a fan of Tennessee football would be all for what the people in the football business determine is in the school's best interest, right?

Not so. Fans apparently think they are not subject to the normal rules of behavior.

Common knowledge—and common sense—says that UT is in the middle of a four-year rebuilding project with the football team. You would think a nine-win season this year would be great news for every UT fan. Think again.

Check out this statement taken from the comment section of a recent Bleacher Report article:

"Perfectly put. I was just having the conversation yesterday with a friend that the worst thing that could happen is for Tenn. to go 8-4 regular season, win a bowl game, & then Dooley get to stick around for another 2-3 years a la Fulmer without showing any real movement towards the top of the pack."

That is an excerpt from a post by someone who claims to be a UT fan through and through. I am not publishing the title of the article because I don't want to embarrass the fan. Those of you who read it, know who it is.  

He is saying should Coach Dooley and this Vols team win nine games this season, it would be a bad thing because the coach may get an extension on his contract. 

On the one hand, he says the coach has never shown he can win. While on the other, he is actively rooting for him to lose, so he won't get a contract extension that may allow him to win again.

What exactly is a coach supposed to do to be good enough?

This is a team that went through an unprecedented event. They actually lost about 25 football players from their team.

Then, you have two thirds of the last Lane Kiffin class that didn't sign, quit the team, transferred or were dismissed. When Dooley took this team over, it was only a shell of a SEC football team.

Another popular post or comment we hear now about Coach Dooley from other fans who want him out is about inexperience. In the midst of these various rants are references to UT needing to hire an "experienced winner" for a coach.

This is something we have all heard repeated over airwaves and by writers before.

Great idea!

Back when Kiffin announced he was leaving in the midst of recruiting season, the Volunteer's athletic director, Mike Hamilton, recognized the precarious situation he was in. Not only was he losing almost the whole coaching staff, but it was smack dab in the midst of the recruiting season.

Add into that mess a few calls from outgoing UT staff to incoming recruits. Legal by NCAA standards but just barely. They were saying, perhaps, they should rethink their commitment to UT—as in why not consider Southern Cal, where the coaches who recruited you are heading? And, Hamilton had a full-blown crisis on his hands.

Not only was he still losing players, the Fulmer administration had signed. Suddenly, the top-10 projected class the staff had recruited, before quitting, was seemingly being enticed away. And, the last portion of the active recruiting before signing day was just around the corner. 

So, Hamilton got busy getting the word out that UT was looking for a football coach. And, just as the football savvy fanatics suggested he should do, he talked to successful coaches.

The reports are far flung as to who all was really a serious candidate. Based on the information I have reviewed from various articles and reports, any one of the following people could have had the job if they wanted it enough to make the move:

Kyle Whittingham: head coach, Utah Utes

Troy Calhoun: head coach, Air Force Academy

Al Goldem: head coach, Temple

David Cutcliffe: former Tennessee offensive coordinator; head coach, Duke

Will Muschamp: Texas defensive coordinator

Jon Gruden: former Vols assistant; Super Bowl-winning NFL coach

Derek Dooley: head coach, Louisiana Tech

There were other names in the pot, such as Kevin Sumlin, head coach at Houston. But, these are the names that came up in several different reports as potential Kiffin replacements. 

Until they got to Dooley, every name on the list flat-out turned them down.

Most coaches realized it would take three to four years to rebuild the program to a point where it would again compete regularly. They also realized that certain elements of the "fan"base would never be that patient.

So, why leave the job you have and go somewhere you know people are going to start calling for your head after two years? It didn't matter how much UT had to pay—up to $3 to $4 million annually for an experienced coach, maybe more—are the numbers I've seen.  

After five or six people turned the job down, Mike Hamilton approached Dooley. He accepted the job. He is in year three of a four-year deal.

For those who don't like Dooley, that's fine. But, at least be educated enough to stop with all the dumb claims about who they "should have" hired as if you know what was happening.

Just because UT has a job open, doesn't mean every coach in America wants it.

I don't know yet if Coach Dooley can lead UT back to prominence. If he can't, then he should be replaced.

But, I do know enough about the situation he inherited—and good business principles—to say that before the season starts in year three isn't the time to try and drum up support for running him out of Knoxville.


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