Strange: Dooley doesn't abandon discipline

Mike Strange

Derek Dooley comments on Friday morning's violent bar brawl

We thought Derek Dooley would have to pass his first test on Sept. 4 against UT-Martin.

Really, though, that one's a gimme. So make it Sept. 11 against Oregon.

He didn't get to wait that long.

Dooley had to abandon a vacation Friday to deal with his first crises as coach of the University of Tennessee football program.

I'd prefer to let the latest episode of Vols Gone Wild get sorted out a little more before passing judgment. But I liked Dooley's initial reaction.

He didn't waste any time dropping the hammer on the most obvious offender, safety Darren Myles. Charged twice in less than four months for resisting arrest, Myles is gone.

More impressive, though, Dooley didn't hide behind the police report in dispensing further discipline.

He announced the indefinite suspensions of Greg King and Marlon Walls, even though neither had been identified in the incident report.

More announcements of disciplinary action are possible, even likely, as UT and the police sort through accounts of a bar fight on Cumberland Avenue in the wee hours of Friday morning.

But Dooley was ahead of the curve Friday.

Coaches have, on occasion, been known to tailor punishment to the police blotter if it will minimize the damage:

No charge or charges dropped? Hey, no punishment.

Dooley was an attorney before he was a football coach. He can do black and white, but he also distinguishes the shades of gray.

"I know what's right and wrong,'' he said Friday night, meeting with the media.

"I know when you're charged with something, that doesn't (necessarily) mean you've done something terrible. And when you're not charged with something, you can do something really not good from a judgment standpoint.

"I'm always going to navigate it with that standard in mind, of what's right and wrong.''

From the January day he was hired after a hurry-up search to replace Lane Kiffin. Dooley has harped on character.

When it comes to character, every coach in every sport talks the talk. I believe Dooley walks the walk, too.

Besides recruiting and implementing his system on the field, he has spent considerable time laying the foundation for a character-enhancing system off the field.

Just last month he hired ex-Vol Andre Lott for the newly created position of Vol for Life/Character Education coordinator.

"We're going to build a structure that will educate, discipline and support our players,'' Dooley said.

He also has a book he reads to his three children (ages 6 to 11). The title is "Sticky Situations: 365 Devotions for Kids and Families.''

Simple stuff. Right-and-wrong stuff.

"It's a great book,'' Dooley said. "When you find yourself in a sticky situation, there's a lot of ways you can go.

"And understanding what the consequences are when you go a certain way, that's the educational component.''

OK, that sounds fine for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

But what about Mister Dooley's neighborhood - or Mister Saban's or Mister Richt's? These are neighborhoods where a sticky situation might involve a brawl or even a gun.

An off-duty policeman was left lying unconscious after the latest incident. That's a pretty tough neighborhood.

Judging from Friday's response, I wouldn't underestimate Dooley if I were one of his players. Even if he might sound like Mister Rogers at times, he's still got a paddle in his hand.

"Sometimes you have to fall really hard to really get it,'' he said.

What's right and wrong, and knowing the difference between the two.

It's an interesting premise for running a program.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 29

britt writes:

sounds like DaRick Rogers might need to hear about Mr Rogers neighborhood. I like the fast firm decisions CDD made so far and expect more of the same as all the facts come out

Wauconda_Vol writes:

Solid article.

justincredible369#357762 writes:

I believe no matter what we have all been in situations where we may have used poor judgement and regreted it almost immediately. These guys are young and have very little life experience. If its a 1st time offense let it slide. The second time punishment fits the crime. If theres a third they are out no if's, and's, or buts. I may be biased cause I'm all VOL, but 15 yrs ago would we have even heard about a fight with some football player. Best of luck to everyone involved, and I hope you all walk away a better more intelligent person than before. Bleeding orange in Bristol!! Goodnight......................

FWBVol writes:

In time I believe Derek Dooley will prove that setting standards for discipline and character can establish a program that will win not only football games, but championships.

CDD showed today that he's not afraid to make the hard decisions quickly, and yet still take time not to rush to judgement based on information in a police report or newspaper story.

westennvol writes:

Good article. Better coach. We picked the right coach this time....I hate when it comes to this though. We all have done stupid things, but the pattern over the last 15 years is staggering... my fervent hope is CDD will reverse this trend ASAP...

smokies_old_soul writes:

more of these guys need to be gone - not just Myles. "indefinitie suspension" better mean more than running the stadium steps if Dooley wants to take control of thuggish behavior that never seems to end by this football team.

eventually, fans are just going to quit caring.

CRFVols writes:

in response to smokies_old_soul:

more of these guys need to be gone - not just Myles. "indefinitie suspension" better mean more than running the stadium steps if Dooley wants to take control of thuggish behavior that never seems to end by this football team.

eventually, fans are just going to quit caring.

Give him time to get the facts together. The action with Myles was cut and dried....the facts were clear and he made a very quick decision. Good job by Coach DD. I'm sure the proper punishment will come fast and swift once CDD has gotten all the facts and figured out the truth as best he can.

d_ray writes:

The story made CNN Headline News this morning, so all the nation ... wait, the world ... knows about this incident. This is very embarrassing and will take time for UT to recover any kind of good image.

I do not blame Coach for the actions of these adolescents (18-19 yr old) or young men. The blame starts with their parents who had 18 years to mold their character. Some of the blame goes to their high school coaches who apparently spoiled them and gave them carte blanche to behave how they wanted to off the field. Now Coach Dooley has to step up and teach them character and mold them into better citizens. That is just wrong. He was hired to coach football, not be their father.

Finally, Da'Rick fought back with the arresting officers. To me this is a dismissal event. If he remains on the team, he will be a ticking time bomb just like Myles was. Send him home now and don't let him be the bad apple in the barrel. He is a 5-star spoiled brat that needs to mature.

tennrich1 writes:

It really is AMAZING the lack of ability some of these guys possess to make logical, reasonable and sensible decisions. I also believe CDD will "get it right". Shouldnt be a lot of emotion involved...just a HARD HAMMER falling. There are just too many young men who know the right thing to do and the proper way to conduct themselves to say it's there age, the way they were raised, yada yada yada...At some point, we need PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY!!! The major thing missing in our soceity today...

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to justincredible369#357762:

I believe no matter what we have all been in situations where we may have used poor judgement and regreted it almost immediately. These guys are young and have very little life experience. If its a 1st time offense let it slide. The second time punishment fits the crime. If theres a third they are out no if's, and's, or buts. I may be biased cause I'm all VOL, but 15 yrs ago would we have even heard about a fight with some football player. Best of luck to everyone involved, and I hope you all walk away a better more intelligent person than before. Bleeding orange in Bristol!! Goodnight......................

Under Fulmer, even after a second offense, the player returned to the time, i.e. Colquitt after 5 DUI's. Majors was a bit better, but not much. Kiffin, well, never mind. Dooley, to become successful here MUST drop the hammer and stop all the nonsense these players get into. I applaud Coach for making the tough decisions. No way do I agree with your let it slide comment, thats what has been wrong at UT for the last 5-6 years at least

shipperman#280095 writes:

the player returned to the time= team...Sorry it is early

gohawks1 writes:

Hammer down, Coach. Good job.

bemami writes:

Part of the problem is the UT football culture itself--- too much emphasis on winning and not enough on winning with good people. Yes, it can be done, as it is back in my home state of Pennsylvania. Joe Pa and his program should be Dooley's model. Penn State has few disciplinary problems, a high graduation rate, and a winning tradition at least on par with UT's. Who won the last game between UT and Penn State? Well, take a guess.

d_ray writes:

in response to Domino:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I grew up in the Western Heights Projects (as you would label it "ghetto") without a father. But I did have a strict mother. I had perfect attendance in high school. Have a college degree. And am completing a successful project management career. Don't throw out labels that you know nothing about.

I made the right choices. These kids have made wrong choices. It is the individuals fault, not the neighborhood they grew up in. Some of the nicest folks I know, grew up surrounded by poverty.

easleychuck writes:

in response to d_ray:

The story made CNN Headline News this morning, so all the nation ... wait, the world ... knows about this incident. This is very embarrassing and will take time for UT to recover any kind of good image.

I do not blame Coach for the actions of these adolescents (18-19 yr old) or young men. The blame starts with their parents who had 18 years to mold their character. Some of the blame goes to their high school coaches who apparently spoiled them and gave them carte blanche to behave how they wanted to off the field. Now Coach Dooley has to step up and teach them character and mold them into better citizens. That is just wrong. He was hired to coach football, not be their father.

Finally, Da'Rick fought back with the arresting officers. To me this is a dismissal event. If he remains on the team, he will be a ticking time bomb just like Myles was. Send him home now and don't let him be the bad apple in the barrel. He is a 5-star spoiled brat that needs to mature.

If you do not understand that coaches are 'fathers' away from home to most of their players then you are beyond clueless.

Were you there?

And since you can foresee the future, what are tonight's pick six numbers?

d_ray writes:

Here is a photo op of Da'Rick that I found in the online Nashville newspaper.

http://deadspin.com/5583404/da-rick-r...

RoadTrip writes:

in response to bemami:

Part of the problem is the UT football culture itself--- too much emphasis on winning and not enough on winning with good people. Yes, it can be done, as it is back in my home state of Pennsylvania. Joe Pa and his program should be Dooley's model. Penn State has few disciplinary problems, a high graduation rate, and a winning tradition at least on par with UT's. Who won the last game between UT and Penn State? Well, take a guess.

Surely you are joking with this. Surely. Please tell me you are not serious. Penn State?! Joe Pa?! The same Joe Pa that was featured on national news shows that I watched for saying "boys will be boys" after bar fights, thefts and abuse against females. He was forced into changing by the administration after recriting thugs for years. They were going to force him into retirement over the all of the phooey up there.

CDD can handle things without assistance from anyone else.

Go_Big_O writes:

in response to d_ray:

The story made CNN Headline News this morning, so all the nation ... wait, the world ... knows about this incident. This is very embarrassing and will take time for UT to recover any kind of good image.

I do not blame Coach for the actions of these adolescents (18-19 yr old) or young men. The blame starts with their parents who had 18 years to mold their character. Some of the blame goes to their high school coaches who apparently spoiled them and gave them carte blanche to behave how they wanted to off the field. Now Coach Dooley has to step up and teach them character and mold them into better citizens. That is just wrong. He was hired to coach football, not be their father.

Finally, Da'Rick fought back with the arresting officers. To me this is a dismissal event. If he remains on the team, he will be a ticking time bomb just like Myles was. Send him home now and don't let him be the bad apple in the barrel. He is a 5-star spoiled brat that needs to mature.

Have you read Roger's arrest report? It says that Da'Rick "stiffened" when they tried to put the cuffs on him. Not hardly fighting back. Maybe we should all just let the people who know what's going on make the decisions...

Go_Big_O writes:

Sorry. I reread the report. It says he "tensed up" and wouldn't put his hands behind his back. This is what he got arrested for.

Hardly worthy of getting kicked off the team. IMHO

RockyTop1 writes:

in response to d_ray:

I grew up in the Western Heights Projects (as you would label it "ghetto") without a father. But I did have a strict mother. I had perfect attendance in high school. Have a college degree. And am completing a successful project management career. Don't throw out labels that you know nothing about.

I made the right choices. These kids have made wrong choices. It is the individuals fault, not the neighborhood they grew up in. Some of the nicest folks I know, grew up surrounded by poverty.

d_ray I also was in a projects (Christenberry Heights)during High School but made decisions not to use my environment as an excuse! My father was not around either! I also had an abusive stepfather but, we all have the choice to do right or use our background / circumstances as an excuse for our bad choices.

I applaud you on your response to those who judge without walking one step in some of these guys shoes!

No excuses, Coach did right, we need to support character not characters!! I look forward to what is ahead with CDD!! GO VOLS!!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to d_ray:

I grew up in the Western Heights Projects (as you would label it "ghetto") without a father. But I did have a strict mother. I had perfect attendance in high school. Have a college degree. And am completing a successful project management career. Don't throw out labels that you know nothing about.

I made the right choices. These kids have made wrong choices. It is the individuals fault, not the neighborhood they grew up in. Some of the nicest folks I know, grew up surrounded by poverty.

Good post. To build on your point, I'd reference the recent tragedy in Virginia with their lacrosse teams. George Huguely didn't come from the "ghetto". Some would call his family rich, but he murdered his innocent girlfriend. Although I strongly believe that one's socio-economic background plays a significant role in incidents like these, there are many other elements that lead to the problems we've had over the years. The common element is discipline. Either you had rules and regulations that you had to follow, or you didn't. There is no gray area.

When Cutcliffe was here, our discipline issues were few and far between. When he left, our discipline issues picked up: former safety Brandon Johnson shooting guns at Bridgecourt Apartments, brawls with fraternities, DUI's, etc... When strong discipline was apart of our program, we were extremely competitive in the SEC and Nationally. I'd argue that the most disciplined people are the most successful in life: Bill Belichick, Saban, Parcells, etc. I'd also argue that our level of success on the football field directly correlates to our level of discipline on and off the field. When we establish a level of discipline equivalent to that of a National Championship contender, we'll be back where we ought to be. I expect heads to roll. Dooley acted swiftly thus far. I'm willing to put up with the embarrasment of losing seasons in order to regain control and avoid the embarrasment of these off the field "issues".

bemami writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

Surely you are joking with this. Surely. Please tell me you are not serious. Penn State?! Joe Pa?! The same Joe Pa that was featured on national news shows that I watched for saying "boys will be boys" after bar fights, thefts and abuse against females. He was forced into changing by the administration after recriting thugs for years. They were going to force him into retirement over the all of the phooey up there.

CDD can handle things without assistance from anyone else.

My point is the same one that UT's Chancellor made last fall after UT lost to both UCLA and Cal the year before. He said that UCLA and Cal were better at football and were better academically, places that UT should emulate.
If you check the New York Times on Joe Pa and Penn State's recruiting practices, you'll see a number of favorable articles. UT would do well to model itself on Penn State, Michigan, UCLA, and Cal. The current model seems to be Miami. Joe Pa is highly respected and has been for decades, all while UT was going through a string of mediocre coaches, and as too many of their players and former players were being arrested for vehicular homicide, assault, gun violations, and drug charges. You can't deny that. You should try to change the culture.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to bemami:

Part of the problem is the UT football culture itself--- too much emphasis on winning and not enough on winning with good people. Yes, it can be done, as it is back in my home state of Pennsylvania. Joe Pa and his program should be Dooley's model. Penn State has few disciplinary problems, a high graduation rate, and a winning tradition at least on par with UT's. Who won the last game between UT and Penn State? Well, take a guess.

Joe Paterno had his share of discipline issues through the last decade. ESPN's Outside the Lines did a special that highlighted Penn State, Oregon, Tennessee, FSU, and Colorado and the high number of arrests that took place over a two year time frame. Earlier this decade, many people were calling for Joe Pa to be forced out much like the recent incident with Bobby Bowden. To save his job, Joe Pa and company started recruiting more "questionable characters". Those recruiting classes led to more wins and more arrests. Since then, Joe Pa has regained control, but at one point they had as many discipline issues as we have. Essentially, we all get our groceries from the same store. Some apples are good, but some are bad.

We need a system in place to help the bad apples transition from their various backgrounds to productive college student athletes. They might meet the NCAA minimum requirements for grades, but they don't meet society's minimum requirements for life. Our new character coach is a good start, but we definitely need to take more steps in all sports. The next step I'd take is nominate Pat Summitt to replace Hamilton as AD.

murrayvol writes:

in response to d_ray:

I grew up in the Western Heights Projects (as you would label it "ghetto") without a father. But I did have a strict mother. I had perfect attendance in high school. Have a college degree. And am completing a successful project management career. Don't throw out labels that you know nothing about.

I made the right choices. These kids have made wrong choices. It is the individuals fault, not the neighborhood they grew up in. Some of the nicest folks I know, grew up surrounded by poverty.

Good post.

Life is chocked full of choices. The high ground is reserved for those who make good ones.

Southland writes:

fact: Kicking a person in the head when he is down is a lowlife move not a bad decision.

Fact: UT has to change its awful culture and repuatation. It will take time.

Fact: Too many UT fans want to win at all costs. See the former Kiffin fans as examples.

Fact: UT is a place of learning and not just a football team. If you can't act like a human you shouldnt be there

murrayvol writes:

Excellent article.

TnScooby writes:

in response to bemami:

My point is the same one that UT's Chancellor made last fall after UT lost to both UCLA and Cal the year before. He said that UCLA and Cal were better at football and were better academically, places that UT should emulate.
If you check the New York Times on Joe Pa and Penn State's recruiting practices, you'll see a number of favorable articles. UT would do well to model itself on Penn State, Michigan, UCLA, and Cal. The current model seems to be Miami. Joe Pa is highly respected and has been for decades, all while UT was going through a string of mediocre coaches, and as too many of their players and former players were being arrested for vehicular homicide, assault, gun violations, and drug charges. You can't deny that. You should try to change the culture.

I find it hilarious that a Penn St fan comes to this board at this time to issue a lecture on the "Penn State Model"...Every big time school has issues and your sacred Nittany Lions are no exception......

"From 2002 to 2008, 46 Penn State football players have faced 163 criminal charges, according to an ESPN analysis of Pennsylvania court records and reports. Twenty-seven players have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to a combined 45 counts.

In July 2008 former wide receiver Chris Bell pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats for an April incident in which he pulled a knife on a teammate in a university dining hall.

These criminal charges coincide with concerns from a former player, a recruiting analyst, local media and others that Penn State has pursued recruits who are good athletes but might have questionable character issues, in order to improve performance. The team under head coach Joe Paterno faced an unprecedented four out of five losing seasons from 2000 to 2004. "

And that is excluding the last 2 years(not enough space to add it in)

And if you think player problems are bad, check out this link on the fans
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/29...

As far as the "mediocre coaches" reference, PennState has been fortunate to have Paterno since '66, but the past 100 years of Penn State football "boasting" a 62% rate of wins is "mediocre" when compared to the 70% winning pct The Vols racked up during the same time period...And as for recently, Phillip Fulmer left UT with a record of 152-52-0 for a 77% pct while Joe Pa sits at 383-127-3 for a 74.9% clip...Now which would you claasify as "mediocre"?...By the way, you might remember a "mediocre" coach named Robert Neyland...the one the stadium is named after?? He "only" compiled a 173-31-12 record with 4 national titles back in the day...I guess his 83% winning pct would be "mediocre" to you...I know Joe Pa has 2 National Titles too, but that's ALL for Penn State, compared to 6 total for the Vols.....Don't come to this board and try to lecture UT about things you obviously know nothing about...Kudos to your legendary Joe Pa for being around so long but the Vols have been playing football a few years as well...Stick to what you know, however little that might actually be, and save your lectures for somebody else!!!!

peachbasket2#527318 writes:

I had a lot of friends that played football for Vince Dooley at the University of Georgia, UT Coach Derek Dooley's father. Those guys loved and respected Vince Dooley and feared disappointing him like a son would fear disappointing his father. They had strict rules to follow and they followed them. If they did not, they were gone. There were few the did not follow the rules. I was anxious to see how Derek Dooley would handle this situation and am glad to see that he is his father's son handled the situation so well.

It has been troubling to see the behavior that has been displayed by some of the UT football players over the last few years. If they do not have enough self-discipline to be of good character off the football field, how can be expected have the self-discipline needed to give the school, fans and the team their best on the football field?

Being selected to play on the UT football team should be considered a privilege and an honor, I don't care how good a player you are. One should have the attitude of being grateful to have been chosen to play for a great school like the University of Tennessee, not have an attitude that UT is lucky to have them. This narcissistic attitude that some of the players display of being bigger and better than anyone else and that they do not have to follow the rules of others needs to be put to an end.

poppachuck writes:

Dooley has done nothing to set him apart from the last years of Philip Fulmer. Why hasnt Rogers at least been suspended? He suspends 2 players not even mentioned in the police reports, but i will not argue with that he may have info we are not privy to yet, but STILL, Rogers was arrested. It is the same BS over again!

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