It offered insight into his approach to player-coach relationships, and had nothing to do with orange, white and black - the latter of which was decried by UT traditionalists but embraced by players and more open-minded fans when the Vols donned the new jerseys for last year's Halloween game against South Carolina.
"There's always that balance about what the players want," Dooley said. "My 11-year-old wants to play video games all day. If I just want to make him happy, I let him do what he wants and he's going to fall flat on his face. There's a real balance in coaching in doing what the players want and convincing them that they want to do what you want them to do."
Based on press conferences and conversations with Dooley, he seems capable of executing the balancing act. As a former lawyer, he's at least confident enough in his persuasive skills to give it a shot. Some coaches wouldn't even attempt it.
Instead, they would take the "my-way-or-the-highway" approach or put the game and program in the hands of the players they recruited, get out of the way and hope for the best.
"I prefer the middle ground," Dooley told his audience.
"I don't like to do what (the players) want all the time," he added. "And I don't like to tell them what to do. I like them to tell me that they want to do what I want to do. That's a key to coaching. That's the art of it.
"If you tell them what they're going to do whether they like it or not, they're going to be out there miserable, and morale's bad. Or you can let them do whatever they want, and you're going to have no control."
You can tell from Dooley's answers on a myriad of topics that he has put a lot of thought into what it takes to be a coach. It didn't hurt that he could study Nick Saban on a daily basis in his seven years as an assistant.
"I'm not Nick Saban," he said when he first joined the Vols.
That's obvious by now. But it's also obvious they share some core values when it comes to a football program.
Lane Kiffin, Dooley's predecessor at UT, didn't talk much about "changing the culture." His response to almost any big-picture question was, "We've just got to win."
He was right. Ultimately, that's what Dooley must do. But what does that entail?
Kiffin expended his energy on recruiting the best players he could and coaching them up. He was making progress until he deserted the Vols for Southern California in January.
Dooley's rebuilding plan is more broad-based. Nothing is too trivial if it impacts his football program. He has talked more about the personal development of his players than he has the depth chart. And he has an interest in everything, from nutrition to media relations.
Managing it all is just another balancing act, one that he knows must be performed with the bottom line in mind.
"Do I know what we will get measured on?" he told the Rotarians. "Absolutely. Don't worry, guys. I understand if we don't win, Tennessee fans aren't going to be happy.
"I believe we will win. I know we will win. Tennessee has always won.
"We will do it in a way that will represent you guys in the way you want to be represented. And I take responsibility for that."
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.