Dooley comments on hiring Wilcox for DC position
Derek Dooley didn't look for the most impressive resume.
The new Tennessee coach saw more than enough of Justin Wilcox in person to be sold on his ability, and what he didn't witness live he certainly watched on film.
Dooley could have hired a defensive coordinator with more experience or somebody with a more recognizable name in the UT locker room, but that likely would have ruled out one of the hottest young coaches in the game. And the Vols might not have had as much to feel good about after bringing Wilcox in Wednesday to take over the defense and give them a nearly complete staff almost three weeks after Dooley took over.
"There's a thousand coaches that wanted that job," Dooley said. "Finding the right person who was going to fit was more important to me than some resume hire. I told the players that - 'Look, I could go hire a guy right now who's got 15, 20 years of coordinator experience in the NFL, but that's not really fair to you as a player.'
"What's important to me is that I get the right coach that fits on this staff, that's going to support you the way I want to support you, and that's why I took my time on it. I wanted to be very diligent, because I wasn't going to rush into a hire and then regret it two weeks later because we were worried about this year's recruiting class."
The class turned out just fine on National Signing Day without him, but the signature from Wilcox could have been the most important UT received on Wednesday.
The Broncos might be better known for their entertaining offense than a hard-hitting, physical defense. But with Wilcox leading the latter over the last four seasons, Boise State went 49-4 and last season ranked third nationally in total scoring - including impressive performances against Oregon and then TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Idaho Statesman newspaper reported that Wilcox is expected to receive a three-year contract worth about $650,000 per year - tripling the $215,000 he was making with the Broncos.
His hiring also only leaves one vacancy on the UT staff, though Chuck Smith is the likely favorite to take over the line on a Wilcox-led defense.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity," Wilcox said in a statement released by UT. "I'm really humbled to be considered and for Coach Dooley to offer me the job. Boise State is an incredible place and I really wasn't looking to leave there. All this happened pretty fast.
"But after talking with Coach Dooley and a couple of the other coaches, and getting a feel for the way he wants to model the program and a lot of the philosophies he has, I just felt like it was a great opportunity at an unbelievable place in terms of the tradition. I think it's just one of those things that was too good to pass up, and I'm excited to be here."
If his somewhat surprising candidacy didn't immediately produce much excitement outside of the program, that hardly seemed to matter to Dooley.
During his three seasons at Louisiana Tech, Dooley became plenty familiar with Wilcox and what he was doing at Boise State as it ran over the Western Athletic Conference. And though that in itself didn't win him the job, it certainly helped him stand out among a pool of candidates who all had some ties to the SEC.
"I've got to say, I played against him for three years, and I watched his teams play, his defenses play for three years," Dooley said. "I've watched every game he's ever coached, and the best resume for a coach is the film. There's no better resume. You can get a piece of paper, you can get 28 coaches calling to recommend him, you can get players calling to recommend them, but when you just watch the film and watch how the players play and the effort, the toughness, the discipline, the multiple schematic issues, it was good.
"I always was impressed with him, but what really impressed me with Justin was the three hours I spent eyeball-to-eyeball with him. He believes in the same things I believe. He's got a great personality. He's very humble. He wants to grow professionally. So, I'm happy to have him. I'm thrilled, like I am with all my coaches."
Now there's only one more left for Dooley to hire.
Four Downs: Dooley didn't give anything away about the last assistant left to hire. But he did clear up the system UT's next defensive line coach will be helping operate.
"I think it's still too early to talk about scheme," Dooley said. "But we're going to base out of a (four-down front)."
There had been questions based on other rumored coordinators and the available personnel on the UT roster about a possible move to a 3-4 attack, but Dooley put those to rest on Wednesday. He didn't confirm or deny any whispers about longtime friend Chuck Smith taking over the defensive front though, despite the fact Smith has long been assumed to be the likely choice.
"I don't have a timeframe," Dooley said. "We'll see. I know Chuck, Chuck's a great coach, great person, great player. We'll see where all that takes us."
Position: Defensive coordinator.
Experience: California linebackers coach (2003-05); Boise State defensive coordinator (2006-09).
Notable: While working with the Broncos over the last four seasons, the team went 49-4 and Wilcox capped his stint there by shutting down high-powered TCU in a victory at the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State ranked third in the nation in points allowed while rolling to a perfect 14-0 record last season.