In a fan-based get-together, he can count on a preponderance of questions about his famous parents - Vince, the former University of Georgia football coach, and Barbara, who makes regular appearances on Paul Finebaum's syndicated sports-talk show. If his audience is limited to local media, the ongoing soap opera of enigmatic UT running back Bryce Brown is a recurring theme.
As weary as Dooley might be from the queries about Brown, who didn't take part in spring practice and has never given any indication he will return for his sophomore season, both topics are appropriate.
Dooley's SEC roots contribute significantly to his appeal at a program as steeped in southern tradition as UT's. And you can't ignore the role running backs have had in shaping Dooley's football philosophy.
So it's only fitting that Brown, who was billed as the nation's No. 1 running back in the 2009 recruiting class, has provided an early sideshow to the beginning of the Dooley era at UT. By now, virtually anyone who has a tweet's worth of education on the subject expects him to transfer.
But no matter who is doing the running for the Vols, he can expect plenty of support from upper-level management. How could the coach who watched Herschel Walker carry his father's program to the pinnacle of college football ever discount the value of an exceptional running back?
You got your answer in the spring when Dooley was repeatedly asked about the challenge of mounting a running game with an all-new offensive line. He talked more about what a good running back could do for an offensive line than vice-versa.
"I've seen it everywhere I've been," Dooley said at last week's SEC football media days. "It's also a little bit like evaluating high school runners.
"I love it when (high school) coaches say, 'We don't have a good offensive line.' Good runners make yards. It doesn't matter who they run behind. They just have an ability to make people miss."
Or, in Walker's case, make defenders wish they had never got in his way. He led Georgia to a national championship, won a Heisman Trophy and ended his college career in 1982 with 10 NCAA rushing records.
"He set the standard," Dooley said. "I believe to this day he's the greatest college running back to ever play the game."
Walker didn't just lift Georgia to new heights. He started a trend. From the mid-1980s all the way to the late-1990s, the Bulldogs handed the ball to the likes of Keith Henderson, Tim Worley, Lars Tate, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis and Robert Edwards.
Dooley's brief head-coaching career also reflects his belief in running backs. In his three seasons at Louisiana Tech, the team's leading rusher never finished lower than sixth in the WAC; he had 1,000 yard-rushers in two of those three years.
UT's running backs have a noteworthy track record as well. That was extended last season when Montario Hardesty put his injury-plagued past behind him and blossomed as a fifth-year senior. Before former UT coach Lane Kiffin left for Southern California, Brown was expected to pick up where Hardesty left off. It hasn't worked that way.
Now, Georgia native Tauren Poole, who played sparingly the last two years, is the most likely candidate to carry the rushing load. But given UT's and Dooley's history, there should be more good runners on the way.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.