Adams: Dooley staging a balancing act

John Adams

A Tennessee fan asked Derek Dooley about black jerseys at a downtown gathering of local Rotarians on Tuesday afternoon. The answer revealed more about UT's new football coach than color preference.

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 adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 42

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I think if everyone is patient, then DD can get us back to the winning tradition. I know the UT fans, 3 years max on the patience issue. Each yr. must show progress. 5-6 wins this yr., 6-7 wins next yr. and by the 3rd yr. everyone will expect a minimum of 8 wins. That's just the way the UT fans are.

IndyVolFan writes:

Good article, John.

UTByrd writes:

Once again, I come away from reading an article about CDD impressed. I can only think about what goes through a recruit's mind as well as his parent(s).
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Coach, I hope you or someone on your staff reads these posts. I just read a very inspirational story about an outstanding student/athlete at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo.
His name is Dorial Green-Beckham and you really need to check him out. Your integrity and Andre's Vol for Life program would truly add to this young man's growth as a person as well as a prime time player. His positive attitude would affect all who meet him.
Go VOLS!!!!!

CroKev writes:

in response to UTByrd:

Coach, I hope you or someone on your staff reads these posts. I just read a very inspirational story about an outstanding student/athlete at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo.
His name is Dorial Green-Beckham and you really need to check him out. Your integrity and Andre's Vol for Life program would truly add to this young man's growth as a person as well as a prime time player. His positive attitude would affect all who meet him.
Go VOLS!!!!!

Florida has made him their top 2012 prospect. Let's get on him!
http://www.maxpreps.com/news/b_l_tIqZ...

Classof72 writes:

As to "...more open-minded fans" embracing black jerseys, that's about as "open-minded" as it is "empty-headed". Think "The New Coke". Doing something stupid isn't "open-minded", it's simply stupid.

VOLinATL writes:

As I get older, I find that I prefer class and integrity to wins. It's getting harder to find the former...

gnm53108 writes:

in response to Classof72:

As to "...more open-minded fans" embracing black jerseys, that's about as "open-minded" as it is "empty-headed". Think "The New Coke". Doing something stupid isn't "open-minded", it's simply stupid.

Agree.

Stupid.

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I think if everyone is patient, then DD can get us back to the winning tradition. I know the UT fans, 3 years max on the patience issue. Each yr. must show progress. 5-6 wins this yr., 6-7 wins next yr. and by the 3rd yr. everyone will expect a minimum of 8 wins. That's just the way the UT fans are.

That is likely the most predominant sediment for most fans. I think most fans understand we are not going to be a strong team this season. Still waiting for our 1st 4 star verbal and we are way behind most SEC schools for commits. If you look at the late 90's we had a Rivals ranked top 20 rated player at almost every position. I really want CDD to succeed here but even he has admitted we are behind in recruiting. Without great talent we will never reach the VOLS were from 1994-2001.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Classof72:

As to "...more open-minded fans" embracing black jerseys, that's about as "open-minded" as it is "empty-headed". Think "The New Coke". Doing something stupid isn't "open-minded", it's simply stupid.

Post of the day. So far. Peculiar use of the phrase, "open minded", Adams.

Tru138 writes:

in response to UTByrd:

Coach, I hope you or someone on your staff reads these posts. I just read a very inspirational story about an outstanding student/athlete at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo.
His name is Dorial Green-Beckham and you really need to check him out. Your integrity and Andre's Vol for Life program would truly add to this young man's growth as a person as well as a prime time player. His positive attitude would affect all who meet him.
Go VOLS!!!!!

I live here in Springfield, and everyone believes this guy is the real deal. 6'5", 215 and fast. I know one of his coaches, and he is very impressed. According to a local news article, several schools have already offered him, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio State, Florida, Nebraska, UCLA and Arkansas. UT needs to get in the mix.

Brillovol writes:

in response to IndyVolFan:

Good article, John.

Blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.

FWBVol writes:

I believe almost any parent would want to see their son play for a coach that has Derek Dooley's priorities in place.

If the parent is a single mom, I would hope that she would want her son to be surrounded by coaches that are the role models that son might have never had when he was growing up.

If the kid comes from a two-parent household, or one where the parents are divorced but have a good relationship, I would hope that they would want their son to continue to be influenced by good people.

Yes, some guys, like the former UT coach that will stay unmentioned, come in with smoke and mirrors and fool people in the short term and can recruit so-called top players, but look at how many are still with the program.

It usually takes two or three years for a coaching staff to build the relationships that will pay off with early commitments from recruits.

Derek Dooley is laying the foundation for the long haul not a here today, gone tomorrow sprint.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I was a little surprised by the black jerseys, but I'm for whatever works, and the players responded by jumping all over South Carolina. I'll never forget that game. We kick off to them, and 4 minutes later we're ahead 14-0. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before. Obviously, the players were inspired. The black jerseys are not something I would criticize Kiffin over. In spite of everything, the guy did show flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, he also showed other things.

DaddyVol writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The black jersey's would have looked better if the helmets had been orange.

volboy81 writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I noticed that too. Apparently its impossible for John Adams to be All Vol even for one little article. Cant wait til hes gone!

TommyJack writes:

in response to DaddyVol:

The black jersey's would have looked better if the helmets had been orange.

DETEST the black shirts. But you're right. Looked goofy with our helmets.

Tennacious writes:

Realism and patience are the keys to building the program back up. Lame, his Pa and the Ogre were flash, and that would have played here for a little while. Despite the successes of the '90s the program had grown stale and the Kiffin coaching staff, shallow and brash as they were, were also refreshing and revitalizing in a cold shower kind of way. We'll see how long those Coaches can sustain their flash at Southern Cal given their probation obstacles.

Coach Dooley is a better fit for Tennessee in the long term. He has much more depth to him and to his approach. However, he has to win ball games too. As supporters we must be realistic when it comes to short term results and take satisfaction from incremental progress. If the fan base can be patient enough to give CDD and staff the opportunity to recruit and coach up the players through three seasons, we will be on very solid competitive ground. The only thing that will de-rail this now, is fan / booster impatience.

Or a DUI and a misplaced pair of red panties...

crimsonviper writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't lie nappy....You,have a friend? bwahahaha!

orangeman1 writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I think if everyone is patient, then DD can get us back to the winning tradition. I know the UT fans, 3 years max on the patience issue. Each yr. must show progress. 5-6 wins this yr., 6-7 wins next yr. and by the 3rd yr. everyone will expect a minimum of 8 wins. That's just the way the UT fans are.

By year 3, Dooley will be on the hot seat if he cant win more than 8 games. At UT expectations are to win championships. After 3 years, he should at least be competing for the SEC and 8 wins wont cut it. The BB situation wasnt handled too well by leaving a decision the coach should be making up to the players.

brokebackvol writes:

I like the comment about letting the players wear the black jerseys in Red Stick (Baton Rouge) - why not?

Honestly, I think CDD really has the right idea about what we want our fave football program to be like, so we will just have to wait it out until the rebuild is complete.

5-6 wins this year is reasonable, considering two games (florida and bama) are almost automatic losses for everyone in the conference right now.

Next year is a wildcard, depending on the schedule and the team strength the VOLS have to meet on the field. But we should expect a winning season with a nice bowl win by year 3.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Let's forget about last year, and all it's bad decisions and outcomes, shall we?

Orange and white are our school colors.

murrayvol writes:

in response to WEAREBETTERTHANVANDY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can fly? That's tremendous.

murrayvol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I believe almost any parent would want to see their son play for a coach that has Derek Dooley's priorities in place.

If the parent is a single mom, I would hope that she would want her son to be surrounded by coaches that are the role models that son might have never had when he was growing up.

If the kid comes from a two-parent household, or one where the parents are divorced but have a good relationship, I would hope that they would want their son to continue to be influenced by good people.

Yes, some guys, like the former UT coach that will stay unmentioned, come in with smoke and mirrors and fool people in the short term and can recruit so-called top players, but look at how many are still with the program.

It usually takes two or three years for a coaching staff to build the relationships that will pay off with early commitments from recruits.

Derek Dooley is laying the foundation for the long haul not a here today, gone tomorrow sprint.

Well said.

Patience is a virtue Vol fans will need to embrace for awhile.

murrayvol writes:

in response to VolnotHAMILTONfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Or you can let them do whatever they want, and you're going to have no control."

Does that remind you of anyone....a legend maybe?

murrayvol writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Don't lie nappy....You,have a friend? bwahahaha!

Truth be told viper, we're gonna miss naffy when they finally come to take him away....ha ha ho ho to the funny farm.

TommyJack writes:

in response to murrayvol:

"Or you can let them do whatever they want, and you're going to have no control."

Does that remind you of anyone....a legend maybe?

legendary at the Krispy Kreme. Hall of Famer as a matter of fact. First ballot.

Colliervol writes:

Hate to be off topic but thought I'd put it here so folks would see it. Lame is on Sports Nation answering questions from Colin Cowpie. Ruined my day when I turned on the TV. Talk about a disaster having to look at those two laugh at each others bad jokes.

1) Most surprising reaction- Titans suing or UT students rioting after his departure- Kiffin- "I can't comment on the lawsuit but I will say that we all wonder what the students would have done if we'd won more than 7 games." He also was asked if he was ever scared and he said he wasn't but that his wife and family were so they got them out of Knoxville quickly. He also said he hasn't sold his house and doubts he ever will.
2) Will the NCAA sanctions hurt a lot or a little- Kiffin still thinks it will only hurt "a little". Boy, is he mistaken. Maybe not this year but wait till years 3 thru 5. On the poll, 85% of the respondents said "a lot".
3) He was "excited about the gains we made and the direction we were going". So excited that he bailed to go to a team that everybody knew was going to get hammered by the NCAA. What a dimwit. (Something we obviously already knew.)

All in all, still the same old Lame. Can't look a camera or anybody else in the eye when he talks. It has been my experience that most chronic liars are that way.

Colliervol writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Don't lie nappy....You,have a friend? bwahahaha!

Sure he does crimson. Naffy serves as his own right hand man. Emphasis on the right hand.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Don't lie nappy....You,have a friend? bwahahaha!

Best retort of the day.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to murrayvol:

You can fly? That's tremendous.

Second best retort of the day.

Psychovol writes:

in response to Classof72:

As to "...more open-minded fans" embracing black jerseys, that's about as "open-minded" as it is "empty-headed". Think "The New Coke". Doing something stupid isn't "open-minded", it's simply stupid.

Stupid is as stupid does and I'd say you're pretty transparent. The Vols are undefeated in black and Coke is doing pretty good also.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Colliervol:

Hate to be off topic but thought I'd put it here so folks would see it. Lame is on Sports Nation answering questions from Colin Cowpie. Ruined my day when I turned on the TV. Talk about a disaster having to look at those two laugh at each others bad jokes.

1) Most surprising reaction- Titans suing or UT students rioting after his departure- Kiffin- "I can't comment on the lawsuit but I will say that we all wonder what the students would have done if we'd won more than 7 games." He also was asked if he was ever scared and he said he wasn't but that his wife and family were so they got them out of Knoxville quickly. He also said he hasn't sold his house and doubts he ever will.
2) Will the NCAA sanctions hurt a lot or a little- Kiffin still thinks it will only hurt "a little". Boy, is he mistaken. Maybe not this year but wait till years 3 thru 5. On the poll, 85% of the respondents said "a lot".
3) He was "excited about the gains we made and the direction we were going". So excited that he bailed to go to a team that everybody knew was going to get hammered by the NCAA. What a dimwit. (Something we obviously already knew.)

All in all, still the same old Lame. Can't look a camera or anybody else in the eye when he talks. It has been my experience that most chronic liars are that way.

Interesting you should mention his inability to sustain eye contact. Dead on.

What's going to hurt most is Pat Haden is a no nonsense guy. The Jackal is nonsense personified. This will not end well.

DannyVol writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Exactly, Merlot. Even though this was the least offensive article he's written in a long time he still has to express his disdain for UT in some way. This article - again, much less offensive than most of his hateful rants - would create an uproar in any other SEC town. Why more UT fans don't respond to his "phooey" is beyond me.

DannyVol writes:

in response to VolnotHAMILTONfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Very well said. The saddest part of this is that he's the editor. Adams' hatred of UT is so pervasive that even when another writer submits a positive story, Adams' headlines water them down.

OwensboroVol writes:

I guess I am more old fashion but I want to see that Orange, and the more of it, the better I am. Our colors have been orange and white forever and I don't want anything else out there. When I was in High School a lot of the guys who played high school football would have given anything to have been good enough to wear that orange shirt. Don't change it!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Decent story by Adams; Dooley's at least been smart enough to not sell the fans snake oil..He's also been pretty accessible to the press..As for the black jerseys; it would be a nice once a season tradition because it seems to fire up the players and in their mind it might become a powerful tool..I know that sounds simple and silly but somehow it empowers the team and theirs nothing wrong with that

TommyJack writes:

Black shirts serve no purpose. Except to sell black shirts. Put this gimmick to bed.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Black shirts serve no purpose. Except to sell black shirts. Put this gimmick to bed.

Our colors are orange and white. We should wear them.....fans and players alike.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You mean two days.

Pompey writes:

in response to FirstAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...this man damn sure talks a good game....

allntl1#565211 writes:

My sisters ex is a real scumbag even to the point of physically abusing her. She has went through two more since him but I still like to tie everything into him when I am talking about something.

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