Hooker: Vols need to release mid-term enrollees

Dave Hooker

It was hard not to be struck with Derek's Dooley's intense, genuine nature during his introductory press conference Friday.

Dooley extolled the virtues of integrity and class shortly after he was hired as Tennessee's 22nd head football coach.

Two SEC coaches backed his claim, telling the News Sentinel that Dooley is a "great guy", referring to his character.

Dooley has an early opportunity to put that character on display just days into his UT tenure.

If Dooley is truly in it for the long haul at UT, he should release the eight mid-term enrollees that were recruited by UT's former staff under Lane Kiffin.

Those players worked hard academically in order to enroll at UT for the spring semester. Those players signed on to play for another coaching staff. And those players should have the option of going though the recruiting process again, then determining whether UT is the right place for them.

By allowing such moves, UT could perhaps convince the NCAA to overlook its transfer rule that forces players to sit out a season.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said last week he had no intention of releasing the players who were a victim of incredibly bad timing.

That's the wrong stand.

Morally, it's obviously the right thing to do, but it's also pragmatic.

If those eight players feel betrayed, they'll never feel the loyalty to the program that Dooley insisted was so important when he was hired.

Dooley doesn't need malcontents and the chemistry issues they can cause.

And while I'm not aware of any off-field issues with the eight, I get the feeling that Kiffin's staff may have been a little looser on character issues than Dooley will be. There's a great chance that some of those players are better fits for the last staff than the new.

Dooley needs all the scholarships he can get. He needs to build this program in his image.

He needs to release those eight players, with one caveat: No player will be released to Southern California.

Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He may be reached at hookerd@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 185

mmhartz writes:

If there are potential character issues, maybe Dooley is what they really need to help them shape up.

stayingorange writes:

I disagree. I do not like how this worked out, but this is an issue for the NCAA to solve across the board, not for UT to be made to suffer from because a coach jumped ship on these guys. I would hope most of these guys signed to be at UT.
How did you feel last year when he who shall not be named pulled scholarships on lots of kids who planned to come here? To me that is much worse.
How much should UT have to give in because of a problem outside its control. Had he been fired it might be more reasonable.
By the way, as I read on other sites most of these guys are now excited to be here and happy with the new coach. Why don't you see how many want to stay before you talk about how bad a move it is and how bad it will be for team chemistry.

dtennessee#235123 writes:

Absolutely, but this AD has no record of doing anything that isn't in his immediate self interest.

rootin4volz writes:

Have you spoken to the 8 mid-term enrollees, Dave, and gotten their take on it? Or are you speaking FOR them out of turn?

mtvols writes:

I totally disagree with the article. The players should sign with a school and not a coach.

dvols writes:

hooker, i am positve you have talked face to face with these young men, and being the x-college athlete that you are i am sure you bring a great insight on this matter, hooker i dont know if you are a tennessee grad or not.(my bad), ur right it is your opinion to make a news thread, but if these 8 young men want to dorn the orange then by god who are you to get in their way! sleep well!

Hounddog writes:

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Including the reports of our football players robbing people and our basketball players speeding while packin and smokin.

Let's play football. Hounddog

staf101#341843 writes:

Dome, Dumber, Crazy. They signed with the University not a coach. How did you get to be a sports writer?

USNVOL writes:

They should have came to play for Tennessee the school...not the coach.
I am sure they are smart enough to know that once they enrolled that they had to stay at Tennessee or sit out a year.
Go write another story Hooker.
Try and find something postive to write about the next time.

vut56#231073 writes:

Chalk up another total disagreement with this article; it addresses a deep, festering problem, one the pondering, plodding and usually impotent NCAA should, but probably will not address on a broad scale.

A small gesture on UT's part will have no national impact. And to suggest this without any apparent reason to believe this elite eight wish to be released is just slinging phooey toward the wall to see what sticks.

This Kiffin affair, following similar moves by Kelly and, yes, Carroll, have spawned many well thought out and insightful blogs regarding coaches being allowed to go with students still chained to the plantation. However, the issues, taken seriously, are so complex and involved that they warrant a far greater macro view than that offered here. These comments were ill conceived and untimely.

space writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

darbhoo writes:

Hooker is your job to report the news or to manipulate the issues that should be handled by the policy and rules of the conference? Sports writer that take it upon themselves to twist and manipulate the situations are not reporting "fair and balanced" information, they are stirring up nonsense that does not have a place here.

The coach/recruiting issues at Tennessee have been out of control enough without your undermining opinions. Leave those confused young men alone and let Coach Dooley do his job.

TxFatBoy writes:

Hooker, shut up and let the University make the decisions on the recruits. Those that already enrolled are no different than the recruits that Kiffin signed last year...they also signed because of him. You need to learn to write or REPORT but do NOT advise the coaches on how to handle the team. To begin with, we are already short handed from a scholarship stand point. Dropping another 8 or 9 PLUS however many may decide to decommit could put us seriously short handed. The students will still get their education, they'll get a chance to play, and they'll get their free ticket. Tossing them back now would be stupid and would not accomplish what you seem to think it would.

Again, find SOMETHING that you do well and switch careers...just don't try coaching.

br_vol writes:

You are way off base with your ideas on how this should be handled and your comments suggesting that there is "a good chance these players have character issues" is insulting. You should be embarrassed of this article. You are trying to draw a line in the sand for judgment of Dooley and that's ridiculous.

volsfan74 writes:

I COMPLETELY disagree with Hooker! These kids signed to be Vols. Kiffin is not the one paying for there $200k+ education, UT is doing that. Dave if that is your theory why not open it up that when a new coach comes in ALL players have the right to transfer, why just mid-term enrollees? Your wrong on this one!!!

CT_VOL writes:

It’s great how hooker pretends to be an independent thinker who goes against the grain based on his own principles. Unfortunately, he has proven over and over again that he lacks such professional integrity. Instead, it’s more of a "look at me" mentality. This is akin to a child saying outrageous things to garner attention from adults.

Frank

TinCup writes:

Hooker, you are a reporter and not a journalist. There is a difference. Stick to trying to get recruiting reports because you can't even get the scoop on those events yet.

If you want to practice journalism, do it in the privacy of your own home and please do not subject us to it.

EHScyclone writes:

I agree with Hooker...It`s just a matter of do you want to do the right thing or do you want to do what`s best for the football team...Just do the right thing and let them then decide...Put yourself in their place...

nocleats writes:

Disagree Dave, By your standard every time a coaching staff leaves, the players should be allowed to leave. If that was the case, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas Tech, Southern Cal, South Fla, East Carolina, Memphis, Notre Dame,Fla State, Cincinatti, Buffalo, La Tech, and yes "for 2 days"* Fla should have all released their players. Its been said a million times, Pick the school and teammates you want to be with, Not the coach. I respectfully disagree.

BIGEJ writes:

Opinions vary and some smell like, well you know. GO VOLs

volsfan74 writes:

in response to EHScyclone:

I agree with Hooker...It`s just a matter of do you want to do the right thing or do you want to do what`s best for the football team...Just do the right thing and let them then decide...Put yourself in their place...

I wish I could put myself in their place! FREE education at a great university, I think people are forgetting that it is the University that makes the financial sacrifice for these kids. The coaches have invested one dime.

twister2 writes:

Disagree. So when CPF was let go, should that whole team had the option to leave? Same thing. Rules are rules...like them are not.

de3cls writes:

in response to darbhoo:

Hooker is your job to report the news or to manipulate the issues that should be handled by the policy and rules of the conference? Sports writer that take it upon themselves to twist and manipulate the situations are not reporting "fair and balanced" information, they are stirring up nonsense that does not have a place here.

The coach/recruiting issues at Tennessee have been out of control enough without your undermining opinions. Leave those confused young men alone and let Coach Dooley do his job.

Absolutely right on!!

BreweryVol writes:

Dave you must know something we do not. Those eight students must have confided in you that they can not wait to get out of Knoxville. And besides UT does not have any control over the NCAA and its transfer policy....and we are not in the good graces of the NCAA anyway.

1vol writes:

Hooker you need to be released.

volsfan74 writes:

If you were to allow players to change their commitment with coaching changes, you would have to allow it even if it were a positions coach or coordinator, not just the head coach. In a lot of cases it is a positions coach that did the recruiting, and has built the relationship with the family not the head coach. This is not a can of worms that needs to be opened.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

DH,
This was a tough lesson for all of us to learn. Nothing more than bad timing. Rules are rules, and the worst thing to teach these kids is that they can be broken.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to volsfan74:

I wish I could put myself in their place! FREE education at a great university, I think people are forgetting that it is the University that makes the financial sacrifice for these kids. The coaches have invested one dime.

Have not invested one dime. Sorry!

rusty_shackleford writes:

Players sign a Letter of Intent with a University, not a coach. Therefore, Hooker's premise is ill-informed and simple-minded: typical from the dinosaur media.

RoadTrip writes:

Go cover Memphis High or something you are more qualified to comment about. You didn't help get Kippy the job so now it's time to bite the new staff. Sure you are not part of the SportsSource team of whiners?

Try doing some more due diligence writing your pieces. The eight are present and accounted for and are very happy to be Vols. So will most of the rest of the previous commitments along with 6-10 others you will be hearing about in short order.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to 1vol:

Hooker you need to be released.

I guess if Hooker was released it should open the door for everyone on the editorial staff to leave?

tbmccord#279221 writes:

Hooker, when is KNS going to release you to let you go through the job search process? If you are so concerned about these athletes rather than trashing the University as usual, why would you suggest that they not be released to play for the coach that recruited them? You are a fraud Hooker!

mdvol writes:

Hooker....
When did you start writing editorials? Just give us the recruits, their star rating, and their schools of interest. We will fill in the rest.

Nice swipe at our new coach baiting him to release these guys. But I detest the even bigger swipe saying...

"There's a great chance that some of those players are better fits for the last staff than the new."

Now what makes you say that? Give us some specifics, not generalities.

Really disappointed in this article from you.

davethevol writes:

Hooker is absolutely correct with this issue. It's not fair to the kids.

Mtnbiker writes:

Wow love the attitudes here....Dave please report NEWS not speculate in order to produce news. Since you did NOT Quote any of these 8 mid-term players, I have to believe you haven't. REPORT, don't FABRICATE.

USNVOL writes:

in response to darbhoo:

Hooker is your job to report the news or to manipulate the issues that should be handled by the policy and rules of the conference? Sports writer that take it upon themselves to twist and manipulate the situations are not reporting "fair and balanced" information, they are stirring up nonsense that does not have a place here.

The coach/recruiting issues at Tennessee have been out of control enough without your undermining opinions. Leave those confused young men alone and let Coach Dooley do his job.

Hey Dardhoo,
You are 100% right on the money about this reporter.
Sometime I believe he just wants stir the pot,but wait until he has the chance to suck up to Coach Dooley,it will be a different story.
I really believe that KNS should get rid of Hooker and replace him with a reporter who wants to be positive about UT,instead of trying undermine the program.

sjackson#227599 writes:

I agree totally with this article. The kids should be given the same right to move that the coaches have. If you force them to stay and they do not want to be here how much help are they going to be to the program? Most people not wanting them to be given their release are only interested in recruiting ratings which are a crock anyway. Also, a good point about the lack of emphasis on character displayed by the last staff. Kiffen and Orgeron (especially Orgeron) could care less about the character of the kids they recruit based on the fact that they are both basically pond scum.

DERELICK_MY_VOLS writes:

Hey Dave while we are at it then lets let Brown, Teague, Oku, Jackson, Myles, King, and the whole entire 2009 class that signed under Kiffin and Co. a free pass too....get serious guy and get off of your high horse....and while we're at it lets let the rest of Fulmer's recruits go as well....I mean Dooley and his staff didn't recruit them either....retard.

hamrbr writes:

WRONG... as usual.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to davethevol:

Hooker is absolutely correct with this issue. It's not fair to the kids.

Well davethevol just like Dave Hooker you are wrong!

Capt_Winters writes:

Hooker you're a hack. That's all.

easleychuck writes:

Totally, disagree. The funds that were used to recruit these kids to the University of Tennessee were Tennessee's. They made a free will decision to attend UT.

They chose to come the University of Tennessee not the Ogeron College or Kiffin's College.

Their helmets will have power T's on them. It was our facilities that they were impressed by. The coaches that recruited them were employees of UT...not private subcontractors.

These employees should have been required to sign non-compete clauses and forced to stay out of the business of college coaching until their contracts ran their courses. A buyout should not be the device that allows them to escape so readily. A coach who sells himself and not the school should face sanctions. They should be required to have a recruit and their family sign a notice along the lines of what a realtor in many states has potential buyers agree to....they are representatives of the sellers (the schools).

This would cut down on about 2% of the disception that goes on in bigtime recruiting. It would at least be a start.

And yes, I am aware that Coach Dooley left another job to come here.

The difference in Coach Dooley and the previous zealots is that I really believe that he will recruits to the school, not to his ego they way Kiffin did.

The damage done to a school's entire recruiting season is massive when someone pulls a "Kiffin". To release players that agreed to enroll at mid-term to better themselves at the school they chose could be a complete bomb on the entire recruiting period.

Hooker has no idea what type of kids have shown up and his back-handed remarks that they may somehow be trouble makers borders on libel.

great_2B_Vol writes:

What a moronic article. Why the "one caveat" Dave? If these players came to UT to play for Lyin' Lane, then wouldn't true integrity allow them to follow the coach they committed to and play at USC? Your caveat is not aimed at helping the kids, but hurting Lane Kiffin.

Unfortunately, this falls under the category that life isn't always fair. At the end of the day, they still have a fantastic opportunity to use their God given gifts and get a quality education. The Tennessee fans welcome them and will cheer them on if they do the right things on and off the field. GBO!

rockytopvol writes:

These kids would not have commited if Kiffin or Orgeron were coaching at TULANE.They were sold on UT facilities, game day experience, tradition, VOLWALK,etc. UT was used to snag these kids.They are getting a free education and a chance to play for a great team. UT had more roster players on the 4 NFL teams playing today than USC and FLORIDA.These boys need to play ball and learn a life lesson...

wycoller writes:

Is Ernest T. Bass now writing for KNS? What kind of logic is this? On the one hand, Hooker (er, Ernest T.) says that these enrollees were recruited by the former coach, then on the other, he says they should released---but not to the school where the former coach is now hiding. Why don't we just leave these decisions to the administration? And I ain't chewing my cabbage twice.

EHScyclone writes:

in response to volsfan74:

Well davethevol just like Dave Hooker you are wrong!

Wrong because you say he is wrong or wrong because it is not the right thing to do...

asleep#212036 writes:

I would release them and here's why. I could care less about changing the NCAA but it would be great PR. Give every one of them the option to reenter their recruitment. I'll bet not a single one of them would after having met Coach Dooley. And anyone that does, we're better off anyway in the long run. What a coup! DD comes off looking like a saint and in reality, it won't cost us a thing. Win-win. Of course, they could all take him up on it, in which case my idea is stupid and I should shut up. Go Vols!!!

798orange writes:

I tend to agree, they should not be trapped by the circumstances. However, in light of what has transpired around here lately, these recruits should be taught by coaches and parents alike to put the school before the coaches. With the hiring of this new coaching staff, there is now a much better chance that will happen.

So are you inferring that some of these young men have character issues? Unless you know them personally that is irresponsible. Also, if you say they should be released, then unless you include USC you are contradicting your own rationale.

volnavy4life writes:

I rarely agree with Hooker as he is always looking to write a piece from the heart that usually stirs the pot. However he has it right on the money here.

What good is it to have players stuck at a school that got sold by a snake oil salesman? If they came to UT to play for UT then they'll stay at UT.

But this program IS about student atheletes and they got screwed. This is a way to 1. make it right and 2. Prove that trust is earned as Dooley said is his unique approach.

Kiffin would never say that trust has to be earned- he said get on board or see ya....thats one approach (honestly his only option because hasn't earned any trust from anyone in his life).

The other is to say I'm gonna earn your trust. First step in that is to give these guys the option.

mrvica#308650 writes:

Hooker, are you trying to re-write the recruiting rules as they apply to UT? If you think that this rule should be changed then start a campaign with the NCAA and get the rule changed for all teams in the NCAA. If you were a good reporter, you would have seen where most of these guys have publicly stated that they are happy at UT and have no desire to transfer. I suggest that you restrict your efforts to reporting and not try to form opinion or change the rules.

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