Dooley's focus on UT's future

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley poses with his wife Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley and children, from left, Peyton, Juliana and John Taylor.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley poses with his wife Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley and children, from left, Peyton, Juliana and John Taylor.

I can tell you this — everything that we’re going to do is going to be with a foundation of integrity in every aspect of the program. We’re going to represent this institution with class, on and off the field.

Derek Dooley, UT head football coach

Introducing UT's new head coach Derek Dooley

Both come from famous coaching fathers.

Each is a limb of an impressive professional tree.

The emphasis on recruiting is virtually identical.

But for all the similarities the new Tennessee coach might share with the old one, the differences were what stood out most after former Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley was formally introduced on Friday night to cap a wild, three-day search to take over the program.

“Look guys, if you’re going to look for soundbites and things from me that are going to attack other programs and disparage people, that’s just not how I am,” Dooley said. “I’m worried about Tennessee. I’m worried about what we need to get our program going, and I’m going to always keep my focus on that.

“I think when you worry about somebody else or what other people are doing then you’re not taking care of your own house. We’ve got plenty to be feeling good about in this program, and that’s what we should keep our focus on. The times of worrying about what happened are over.”

The Vols obviously didn’t spend much time dwelling on the Lane Kiffin era, and they replaced him almost as quickly as he disappeared this week to take the Southern California job.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton seemingly cast a wide net over the last few days and came away with a handful of public rejections to prove it. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, TCU’s Gary Patterson and former Vols offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe all released public statements essentially turning down the job, and according to reports Utah coach Kyle Whittingham privately did the same on Friday morning.

But no matter how difficult or tiring the rapid hiring process may have been, Hamilton wrapped it up with a coach clearly excited to pick up where Kiffin left off, though perhaps not in the exact same way.

“I’m not going to sell this program and what we’re about to do in soundbite,” Dooley said. “It’s impossible. But I can tell you this — everything that we’re going to do is going to be with a foundation of intergrity in every aspect of the program. We’re going to represent this institution with class, on and off the field and we’re going to be a fun team to watch by how we compete, by the effort that we give, by the togetherness and the spirit that we play with.

“There’s going to be bumps along the way, there always is. But I can assure you that we’re going to continue to forge ahead, we’ll always be developing and growing as a program and I’m excited about what the future holds at Tennessee.”

Perhaps most important to the crowd in the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complex, Dooley plans on moving forward by embracing the past.

He reminisced about watching Johnny Majors on his coach’s show and professed his respect for former coach Phillip Fulmer. He spoke fondly of running through the ‘T,’ the checkerboard end zones and the sound of Rocky Top.

And at one point Dooley looked over his shoulder during his introductory press conference and breathed a sigh of relief that he believed in all the Maxims. That certainly doesn’t make him the anti-Kiffin and that wasn’t necessarily what Hamilton was looking for, but in more than a few ways he seemed to have found him.

“His organizational skills, when we sat down for the first time, it was clear,” Hamilton said. “He gave me this book about how he goes about his business, how the football program would be organized, how we’ll accomplish things.

“The time went very quickly, so much so that we got to a point where I said, ‘Hey, Coach, we’ve only got about 20 minutes.’ And we hadn’t really even got started. It was obvious from that. Great conversation, and I have respect for the people that he’s worked with, and I know that he’s been trained well for this moment.”

That training started in the family from his legendary father, former Georgia coach Vince Dooley. It continued with a five-year run by Nick Saban’s side at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, and then he picked up a few things himself while serving as both coach and athletic director at Louisiana Tech.

All that experience and his ties to the SEC helped him stand out when the job came open, but it also made the UT job appealing enough for him to make what was clearly a difficult decision to leave the Bulldogs. And Dooley did his best to assure a fanbase that might be wary of trusting of him that he doesn’t plan on leaving them anytime soon.

“Quite frankly, there’s not one thing I could tell you right now that’s going to convince every fan,” Dooley said. “But I’ve never been more excited about the future than I am right now. This football program has a ridiculous tradition of winning for a long time. We’re going to win here, and it’s going to win a long time after.

“So it’s the (players’) program. It’s not my program. It’s not the prior coach’s program. It’s their program. They can do with it however they want, and I think it’s a great lesson in life what happened (with Kiffin). Was it an unfortunate situation for them? Of course it is. They’ve gone through two tough years, and I sympathize for them. But if you think this is as hard as it gets in life, look out. Life is tough, you’re going to get knocked down a bunch, and the quicker you learn to deal with how you react to it and dust your britches off and move forward, then the quicker you’re going to lead to happiness.

“We’re going to move forward and not dwell on what happened.”

The Vols all took the first step on Friday, but it’s clear the new leader isn’t doing it by filling somebody else’s shoes.

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Comments » 727

bluetickhoundguy writes:

I like him!!! His wife is a definite upgrade over Layla too!

TrueVol70 writes:

“I can guarantee you that we are going to represent this program with integrity and class."

That's a 180 from the past 13 months. Welcome aboard, coach. I am behind you and the Vols 100%. Make us proud!

BillsBrother writes:

Integrity? Good. Class? Good.

Will the stadium be full?

topgun writes:

Congrats coach, clean up the mess and make us proud to be VOLS!!

Hoodvol writes:

How refreshing is it to have a guy with a brain who you can be proud to call our coach? I'm very impressed. Can you say really, really smart?

volinflorida2 writes:

Welcome Coach Dooley! Your Dad is a class act and we are sure you are as well and will lead UT back to greatness.

VolinCincy writes:

Don't know how many are watching the presser right now, but count me as a Dooley fan. Seems like a class act and we'll be much better in the long run for having endured the roller coaster ride of the last few days.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

in response to bluetickhoundguy:

I like him!!! His wife is a definite upgrade over Layla too!

Is that true?

I wanted to keep Layla and make sure that lying b@stard and his old man left town.

d_nowell00 writes:

Congrats Coach Dooley and welcome to Big Orange Country.... This guy is growing on me already.

1974Vol writes:

This was desperation hire by a beleaguered AD. That said I hope it works out or we'll wonder in the wilderness for another decade with 7-6 being our new benchmark.

rabidvol1998 writes:

Class is back in K-town. That's what i'm talking about.

peerlessvolfan writes:

I'm just glad this week is over (except for beating Kansas and blowing out War Eagles. Welcome Coach Dooley!

Mr_Bandman writes:

Sold. Smart, professional, humble yet confident, genuine---qualities I never saw in the last guy (never to be named again).

Orange_Crush writes:

Hey, he talks a good talk...that'll get people on board for now...he's gotta back it up with recruiting, staff, and off season work. Go Vols!

Exiled writes:

I don't know, but he sounded like he belonged here. Loved the accent. Sounds like a football coach. My first impression was a good one.

Seinat writes:

I already like this guy. He sounds like he will offer the stability we need right now. He is, in many ways, the anti-kiffin. Humble, committed, appreciative of TN football tradition. I think he will do well

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to Mr_Bandman:

Sold. Smart, professional, humble yet confident, genuine---qualities I never saw in the last guy (never to be named again).

I like that --- "the last guy"

FromKnoxville writes:

I am listening to the press conference with Coach Dooley. I firmly believe UT has hired a man of integrity and character, two qualities all-important as a foundation. I look forward to watching him develop this program.

Exiled writes:

Took a couple of digs at "him" as well. Loved it!

Mjollnir writes:

Welcome, Coach Dooley. We will be behind you all the way. Tennesseans appreciate and respect folks of integrity, and it's good to have a man of integrity at the helm.

DannyVol writes:

I like the sound of this guy. Kiffin wouldn't even allow the Maxims to be stated on the road and had USC photos up all around the UT football complex. Plus, I bet this dude is not a chronic philanderer as has been alledged of the last clown. I cannot believe how evil a character we had running the show we love so dearly. I sincerely thank God Dooley is here.

GreenbackMike writes:

This guy is exciting, I am 100% behind you Coach D... Let's suit 'em up get it started!

rockban62 writes:

Lets buckle down and GIVE OUR ALL TO TENNESSEE

1974Vol writes:

I had a nightmare where Dooley goes 9-3 and wins the Capital One Bowl then Mark Richt gets fired after going 6-6 and missing a bowl and he takes the Dawg job - another one and done.

TheCommish writes:

You guys should be proud of your new coach. He has been very engaging and impressive at the presser. Good things are coming your way!

tapeworm writes:

i have to admit, I wouldn't want to be in Hamilton's shoes, but he chose them. Now, he has to walk in them, and I can only hope they fit, because we're all wearing them now.

Mr_Bandman writes:

in response to 1974Vol:

This was desperation hire by a beleaguered AD. That said I hope it works out or we'll wonder in the wilderness for another decade with 7-6 being our new benchmark.

I respectfully disagree. I think Cutcliffe or Brown would have been desperation hires. This guy has a pedigree, some experience on all levels, perspective on the history and traditions of the program and the conference, and a lot of very highly respected people vouching for him. This is the hire we SHOULD have made 14 months ago.

BTW....will we "wonder" WHILE we "wander" through the wilderness?...?

DaveRamseyRocks writes:

Watching his press conference...He has a fan here...GO VOLS

VolHound writes:

With a son named Peyton he can't be bad. Wecome Coach. Get behind this man.

pammyvol1000 writes:

I did not see the video but I have a good feeling about this guy! I am excited again!!

volnut64 writes:

CLASS, CLASS, and more CLASS!!!! Hope "IT" heard it! Me likey!!!!

Titan writes:

What a different approach - oozes class and will not be an embarrassment to the university! I loved his comment "The General knew what he was doing."

BornVolDieVol writes:

Welcome Coach Dooley!!! I appreciate your comments and thank you for taking us into a new era that embraces our Traditions and our Integrity. I am looking forward to the future. You have my support as you become a legendary coach here at Tennessee.

tnlooking writes:

Like the sound of this guy so far! Welcome to the Big Orange nation coach! Look forward to seeing what the future holds.

jeffhaga writes:
calvolfromkingsport writes:

What a class act and a true contrast from clk.I hope it works out. I feel better already.

heisthelord367 writes:

glad to be passing around some orange kool aid again..anyone thirsty?...i think he's a good hire..

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

How can you not like COACH DOOLEY ?

deesam#309104 writes:

Welcome coach Dooley, as a son of a great SEC coach you know SEC football traditions. I also hope you know you are a part of the VOL FAMILY not just a flashy guy with head phone.

JenB (Inactive) writes:

Sounds like we should give him a chance! I like his spunk!

stayingorange writes:

Impressive. Now put it to work. This is a good start.

dvols writes:

what a breath of fresh air.

I got a new coach!

GO BIG ORGANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Volfan1 writes:

I missed the press conference, but if he has a son named Peyton he must be good!

Orange_Crush writes:

Good lookin' family, too.

DallasVolsFan writes:

Hey WD,
I wonder how many of these Dooley fans were talking smack about him an hour ago???

He sounds like a UT coach, not like a used car salesman from Cali. He didn't make anybody mad, he didn't make promises he couldn't keep...sounds good to me!

deesam#309104 writes:

Lane who? It's like I just woke up from a bad dream, rolled over and saw my wife, Jennifer Anniston smiling at me.

VolsfannUSAF writes:

Very impressive, really like the way he carried himself and refused to bash other coaches around the league or NCAA. Let's get the staff together and return to the top.

rockytopatl writes:

Isn't it nice to hear our coach speak and not feel like you need a shower?

Reel 'em in, Coach Dooley. GBO!

MidTennVol writes:

Well, this man just won me with his press conference. Coach, I hope you can keep the staff you've inherited -- IF they embrace the same values and philosophy you bring.

Best of luck and welcome to Tennessee.

VolinTally writes:

Like the family comments and commitment. Bodes well to earning the trust of players and their families. I think recruits and their families will respond well to him. And as I've said on numerous posts, if recruits don't want to at UT for the right reasons then don't be at UT. He's right; it's their legacy as much as the University's and his.

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