SEC Media Days: Tennessee Vols Personify Class
Hoover, Ala. - You are probably thinking, "Wow! That headline is nothing close to what we saw about Tennessee at last year's Media Days." And you would be absolutely correct.
Yet, the Lane Kiffin years still live on in the minds of a select few media at this event. In case you've been sleeping for the past seven months, Lane Kiffin is no longer at the helm of the Tennessee ship.
Apparently, some in the media still have yet to figure that out. It only took a few questions into Derek Dooley's first official meeting with all the SEC media to get his first Lane Kiffin inquiry.
The question: Have any of your fellow coaches thanked you for not being Lane Kiffin or not being anything like him?
Dooley's answer, "No, no. I mean, how do you answer a question like that? Y'all are just waiting for me to say something, I guess. Let's go on to the next one."
That was only after the head coach fielded numerous questions on everything from what his parents, Vince and Barbara Dooley, are wearing these days to how much he learned from his SEC legend father to how much his best friend Nick Saban has rubbed off on him.
Yet Dooley handled each and every infuriating question that he's heard at least a thousand times since January with complete class, dignity, and as always, a steady dose of humor.
Dooley never called out a fellow coach. He never said when, where, or how he was going to sing Rocky Top all night long after defeating anyone. There were no awkward meetings with fellow coaches on an elevator. Nothing of the sort.
There was class.
Among the players he selected to bring with him were three of the classiest guys to wear the orange and white: defensive end Chris Walker, linebacker, Nick Reveiz, and tight end Luke Stocker were articulate and all three gave every bit of thanks for their success to God.
Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, it all goes back to the fact that Tennessee should no longer be viewed as the eyesore it became last season.
Those days are long gone.
This coach and these particular players are not going to incite crazy headlines because of their lack of the ability to shut up. These three players are not going to be fighting in a bar at 2 a.m. or holding up three strangers at pellet gunpoint. As a matter of fact, they're doing all they can do right now to keep anything like those incidents from ever happening again.
No, these guys are going to stay out of the news because they do things the right way.
That's not sexy or quotable, and it doesn't bring the base to the exciting crescendo that it experienced last season.
It is, however, something Tennessee fans can be proud of.
I know pride has taken a backseat to winning a championship every year these days. But there's nothing wrong with going back to doing thing the right way.
The wins and championships that Tennessee fans want so badly are probably not going to happen in 2010, but rest assured, Vol faithful: If this program resembles Derek Dooley's level of class and leadership in a few years, the program will be right where you want it to be.
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