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Derek Dooley will reportedly be named Tennessee's next head football coach even though the Vols still had at least one interview left to conduct.
Multiple media sources are reporting that the former Louisiana Tech head coach has agreed to replace Lane Kiffin, who left UT for Southern California on Tuesday, and a deal is imminent. Several other media sources are indicating it is not a done deal.
A 1981 Dassault Falcon airplane registered to Pilot Corp. was photographed at the Ruston (La.) airport this afternoon, amid reports that UT athletic director MIke Hamilton and booster Jim Haslam are in Ruston where the Louisiana Tech campus is located.
And, the Monroe (La.) News Star is reporting that Dooley is resigning to take the Tennessee job and quotes a booster.
“He’s gone,” the newspaper quotes Steve Davison, one of Louisiana Tech's most influential boosters and a friend of Dooley. as saying. “Now we have to make another good hire. Coach Dooley was a good hire for us, and I’m confident we’ll make another one."
Earlier in the afternoon a sourcetold the News Sentinel that the competition had become a two-man race between Dooley and UT interim head coach Kippy Brown with Dooley the heavy favorite but Brown still being given serious consideration. Hamilton interviewed Brown earlier in the afternoon.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was the other finalist, according to a source close to the process.
A Louisiana Tech spokesperson declined to confirm or deny the move but said to check back later this afternoon.
Dooley, who has been the coach at Tech for three seasons, canceled end-of-the-season meetings with his players on Wednesday and left Ruston to meet with UT officials on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Gannett News Service. Dooley was also the athletic director of Louisiana Tech since March 2008.
Dooley, 41, is 17-20 at Louisiana Tech with a 12-12 record in the Western Athletic Conference. Tech went 8-5 in 2008 and won the Independence Bowl. Dooley has a law degree from Georgia and a bachelor's degree in government and foreign affairs from Virginia, where he played receiver.
Dooley is the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley. Derek Dooley coached under Nick Saban as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2000 to February 2003, then was named special teams coach and running backs coach for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Dooley followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins where he was tight ends coach in 2005 before accepting the Louisiana Tech job in 2006.
Dooley came highly recommended by Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who was thought to be one of UT's first targets. Muschamp, however, decided to stay at Texas. Texas Christian's Gary Patterson and Air Force's Troy Calhoun also issued public statements that they would not be leaving their respective schools. The Vols were in serious talks with former coach David Cutcliffe, but Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke, and UT couldn't come together on Cutcliffe's staff at UT.