Dooley puts high value on character

Program for teaching athletes to make right choices a priority

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On the field, everything appears to be in place for Derek Dooley.

The new Tennessee football coach put together his first signing class, completed hiring his staff and also has a full roster ready to start spring practice next week. As of Tuesday, he even has a kickoff time for the Orange and White Game (April 17, 2 p.m.).

But as Dooley has repeated every time he's been in public since taking over in January, that's only half the battle for him. The off-the-field pieces aren't all in place yet based on job listings on the UT Web site for a director of football operations, an on-campus recruiting expert and a coordinator for his character development program.

And though the first two likely will have a visible impact when the Vols step on the turf, the last one might actually be the one Dooley could value most.

"Character education - very important to me," Dooley said last month. "So many of these young men come from different backgrounds, they come from different value sets, they come from different socioeconomic places, and they all have different views of what's right and wrong. Let's face it, when you're 18 to 22, no matter where you came from, you have a big hole in your head. I know I did. I did some of the dumbest things that I can't even believe I did.

"I think it's our responsibility as coaches to help educate them as people. That's not an easy task, so we put in a character education program at Louisiana Tech. It was very successful, it's a rough culture there, and over the course of two years we changed the culture. We started defining what's right and what's wrong and helping them make choices."

Dooley will have a similar program for the Vols, though it might not be completely ready at the moment.

The UT job listing describes the vacant position at the top as a sort of guidance counselor for the team, doing everything from opening lines of communication with families of players to coordinating community service events. The hire also will be involved with "developing personal skills in the area of character education," ideally to help avoid situations like last year's arrests for attempted armed robbery during the middle of the season.

"ESPN.com, every day it's unbelievable," Dooley said. "I almost hate reading it to see every day there's somebody doing something that's embarrassing the institution, that's embarrassing themselves, embarrassing their hometowns.

"What I believe is that 90 percent of those guys, 95 percent sometimes, they're really not bad people. They make bad choices, they make choices not thinking about the consequences, they didn't even know what the consequences were."

It won't be just up to Dooley or the head of character development to make sure everybody is aware of them, and no matter how many people UT hires there's no guarantee something negative won't happen at some point.

But it likely won't be for lack of trying to prevent it.

"Sometimes we put so much on these guys and expect them to be model everything - great players, model citizens, representing the institution, phenomenal student," Dooley said. "But that doesn't come without a tremendous amount of work and support from the coaching staff, and it's got to start with the head coach.

"He's got to believe in those things, and I can tell you - I do."

And he's not done finding a few others who believe the same to help him out.

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Comments » 122

Gbovol writes:

I heard a great definition tonight for the word THUG- from the new football coach at North Carolina A and T. "T"horoughly "H"umble "U"nder "G"od. Maybe that should be UT's mantra in the future.

westennvol writes:

I find new ways to respect Coach Dooley every week. We have a coach that TENNESSEE can be proud of now!

TheDudeAbides writes:

I've got the warm n fuzzies.

britt writes:

Wow. Coach Dooley hasnt even had his first practice yet and Im already thoroughly impressed with him. If his on-field results match his off-field goals we're in for a great run coming up

Thunderstorm writes:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

FWBVol writes:

I think CDD has his team priorities in order.

Great character and responsibility off the field will translate into great character and responsibility on the field, which, coupled with great players that love Tennessee, should translate into wins.

volsoutwest writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I think CDD has his team priorities in order.

Great character and responsibility off the field will translate into great character and responsibility on the field, which, coupled with great players that love Tennessee, should translate into wins.

Exactly. Well said.

eduardo writes:

Sure beats listening to lame kiffin!!! What in the daylights did lame kiffin do to get the UT Job??? Shouldnt have even been a candidate!!!

PureOrange writes:

Now this is the kind of coach we want and deserve. Character is important to him, so it will be important to our players.

I am very proud of this coach, and I look forward to many great years.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He is intense,no doubt.
Thnx for the link RR2.

charles57#1378642 writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

Coach Dooley has already, in my opinion, won the biggest game of them all. It's called the game of life!

tnaseevol writes:

Sounds like CDD has his head in the right place.
Character Education sounds like a winner to me.
Opening up lines of communication right off the bat is IMO the best way to go.

Can't wait to see what CDD puts on the field.
O/W can't get here soon enough, then will have to wait til it's "FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE"

GBO

tnaseevol writes:

in response to charles57#1378642:

Coach Dooley has already, in my opinion, won the biggest game of them all. It's called the game of life!

I'm with you on that one!

Voluvr writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

Good question. Over and over you see teams winning the national title that do have that "something extra." We had it in '98. You had leaders on that team with values and Christian leadership. This guy just might do it. Let's give him time.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

The jury is still out on the guy that Southern Cal hired opening the door for Derek Dooley to get the UT job too.

richvol writes:

I admire this step very much. Building character off the field will help display it on the field. So many of these kids have had one parent families or non existent parenting and need this type of guideance more than being taught football skills.

Most of the attrition that Tennessee has experienced over the past several years is the result of weak character...just look no further than the immediate past head coach. This is an idea whose time has come. I would think this will be a great recruiting tool for Dooley to sell to Moms and all other SEC teams will follow suit.

jimr07 writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your point is...............

volswithclass writes:

They should hire Bruce Warwick back as the Director of Football Operations. He was here under Fulmer and has NFL experience with the Packers and Rams. He is in St. Louis now doing football operations.

darbhoo writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

Sometimes it is better to remain silent and have people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

nocleats writes:

I think Coach Dooloey is on the right track, but still is no guarantee that 17-22 yr olds wont make STUPID choices. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/st...

Flyfisherman writes:

After Weasel Boy gets fired from USC, perhaps he can apply for the Character Development Coordinator position...if not him, surely Oregeron. They both ooze character...I'm just saying!

I too am more impressed w/CDD the more I learn. Now if we can win!!

Gbovol writes:

In response to First and Goal:
I'm not concerned about other schools at this point, just UT. Start at home. C. Dooley is on the right track, but what builds the right character is what counts.

VOLinATL writes:

Unfortunately, if he has an "All-Character" team and only wins 7 - 8 games a year, he is fired. He has a bunch of idiots and thugs, but wins SEC titles, he is "Coach of the Year". Just ask the old 'Canes coaches about that choice.

TLepage writes:

It was good to hear this and see that he ACTUALLY cares about the well-being of his kids..... Lets face it, most of these kids need guidance....

tenecvol4 writes:

in response to tnaseevol:

I'm with you on that one!

Me too -- I'm with you on that too- Im all for a Natl Championship but not at any cost - I would rather have good decent young men who makes us more proud off the field as good future citizens and I think Double D will be the coach who will inspire that kind of attitude- with players like that then the big wins will follow

GerryOP writes:

Any hour a kid spends in a college classroom as a scholarship athlete is an hour that the kid may not have spent in a college classroom without an athletic scholarship. The hope is that they take full advantage of the opportunity that they EARNED. Looks like Dooley feels that the scholarship also should give the kid an opportunity for "life-training" also. Good move.

These kids EARNED the opportunity to attend The University of Tennessee on scholarship and the univesity stands ready to help the kids take full advantage of that opportunity. A fair exchange.

VolFaninCT writes:

Can the basketball team utilize this program as well?

GerryOP writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

Unfortunately, if he has an "All-Character" team and only wins 7 - 8 games a year, he is fired. He has a bunch of idiots and thugs, but wins SEC titles, he is "Coach of the Year". Just ask the old 'Canes coaches about that choice.

Guess you're implying that it is not possible to have an "All-Character" team that wins championships? VolinATL, I hope that's not true ... and pretty confident it's not.

agentorange writes:

character is nice but it's about winning football games in the end.

give_him_6 writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

If you are looking for National titles in the next year or so...you better get your priorities in order. WE have to crawl before we walk. We didn't get into this shape over night and we won't get out of it over night. Sheeesh.

tnsportsman writes:

OK this statement is as a messenger and IS NOT MY OPINION.

‘A few weeks ago on ESPN they were discussing this subject of ‘Character’ concerning Oregon. Their facts on Championship Teams in the last 10 years were the Teams with lots of trouble and arrests had the talented players that win championships.’

I hope Coach Dooley can change this ‘type of culture’ and still win Championships! It will be a very tough road and big task for him to do so, I wish Coach Dooley all the best and he has my support.

GO VOLS

nocleats writes:

in response to agentorange:

character is nice but it's about winning football games in the end.

Im afraid your right, ask Bill Battle. I would love to find those special players who have character, and morals,BUT, when they step out on to the field,their eyes glaze over,their nostrils flair,women start screaming,children start crying, dogs start howling and barking, and all he// comes undone until the game is over and they return to nice people again.

TLepage writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agreed.... He is intense and I like it... We should start calling it "the slap heard around the world"....

TLepage writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

Unfortunately, if he has an "All-Character" team and only wins 7 - 8 games a year, he is fired. He has a bunch of idiots and thugs, but wins SEC titles, he is "Coach of the Year". Just ask the old 'Canes coaches about that choice.

i know football is completely different then basketball, but coach K wins championships at Duke with players of sound character.... Granted it is easier in basketball bc you don't need to sign as many players.... But i still think we can get "better" people.... Also, this article isn't saying that Dooley is only going to recruit angels.... All it says is that he is going to place an emphasis on character development once players arrive on campus... A lot of them haven't had strong male role models in their lives, i think the kind of support that Dooley wants to give them is a great idea....

SwamisBigOrangeCrystalBall writes:

in response to nocleats:

Im afraid your right, ask Bill Battle. I would love to find those special players who have character, and morals,BUT, when they step out on to the field,their eyes glaze over,their nostrils flair,women start screaming,children start crying, dogs start howling and barking, and all he// comes undone until the game is over and they return to nice people again.

I dont think he's suggesting making them flawless but just trying to give them the info they need to help them stay out of trouble and contributing to the team.

TLepage writes:

Breaking News...... Rubio promoted to Character to Development Czar.......

TLepage writes:

in response to TLepage:

Breaking News...... Rubio promoted to Character to Development Czar.......

just kidding.... I couldn't resist.... I'm still laughing about this.....

mcoll4 writes:

in response to nocleats:

Im afraid your right, ask Bill Battle. I would love to find those special players who have character, and morals,BUT, when they step out on to the field,their eyes glaze over,their nostrils flair,women start screaming,children start crying, dogs start howling and barking, and all he// comes undone until the game is over and they return to nice people again.

You're right, it is about winning football games. But to do that you have to make sure that these kids understand what is required of them. As the old saying goes, "To whom much is given, much is required". We want to have these kids still here in 2 to 3 years. Many people commenting in these posts have little idea where some of these kids are actually coming from. When smoking pot, carrying guns and knives, robbery and even dog fighting are common place in your environment, these kids truly do not know right from wrong. This is the building character to re-educate these kids than our coach is talking about. It's a harsh reality and some of these kids do understand that this is their ticket out of the getto and lots of money in the NFL. But that doesn't mean that they have the right training to become useful citizens once they suddenly have all this money. We see this all the time.

This is a very important program and will benefit not only the university but society in general for years to come. I see posts on this site all the time with people saying there should only be one chance for things like smoking pot. You absolutely must understand where these kids are coming from and then be willing to give them a second or third chance. Many of these kids do not come from middle class families and do not have the same values as you or I. Some have no values at all. This is their life every day. So that last chance might be just the thing to turn them around and make them the type person you thought they were when they got here. Being from the deep south, I have seen a lot of this although I did not grow up this way. It would be nice if all this did not exist but it does.

So the next time you feel like putting these kids down for this, just walk a mile in their shoes before commenting. Better yet, get out and volunteer with some of the community programs and you'll see for yourself.

This is a great start and I am proud of our university for following through with it.

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

in response to eduardo:

Sure beats listening to lame kiffin!!! What in the daylights did lame kiffin do to get the UT Job??? Shouldnt have even been a candidate!!!

Really?? You don't know why Kiffin got the job? He was a recruiting phenom that had worked under a National Championship winning head coach. Kind of like the new recruiting phenom that worked under a national championship winning head coach. Honestly, can you not perceive even the slightest similarities between the Kiffin and Coach Dooley hires?

abnermc writes:

First lesson in this training : Never rob 2 teenage coon hunters driving a 10 year old Mazda & have only one cheeseburger!

volfanew writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

Unfortunately, if he has an "All-Character" team and only wins 7 - 8 games a year, he is fired. He has a bunch of idiots and thugs, but wins SEC titles, he is "Coach of the Year". Just ask the old 'Canes coaches about that choice.

Call me naive, but I refuse to believe the majority of great athletes lack character. We only hear more about the ones that make bad decisions. This is a good move on Coach's part... a win/win position. We will be getting young men who truly wish to better themselves on, and off, the field.

TommyJack writes:

CDD. First coach since Battle with high character.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to agentorange:

character is nice but it's about winning football games in the end.

My sentiments exactly. When the dust settles, how did you fare against UGA, Bama, FL? That is what defines a UT football coach.

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

I'm gonna get called a troll, but I don't care. This PR stuff is nice, but it isn't going to translate to wins. Personally, I think it's driven more by Hamilton's desire to reinvent the UT brand in order to get the Kiffin stank off it.

Character development programs, D.A.R.E to stay off drugs, hugs for thugs...I don't care what type of programs Dooley puts into place as long as he gets results on the field, but the reality is that character development does not chart a straight course into on-field success (regardless of how many posters are convinced that it does). USC and Florida have, for the past decade, run two of the most criminally laced programs in the country and they've both been successful. UT hasn't lost every game to Florida since 2004 because our kids lacked character. UT lost because they got 1)out coached and 2)out recruited by the Gators. That's just the reality. We could have 2 Rhodes Scholars, 15 academic all-Americans, and Patch Adams on the roster, but if Florida is able to keep cramming the spread offense down our throat because our Defense gets beat off the line and our offense seems allergic to the end-zone, it won't matter.

If Coach Dooley wants to spend his budget, and his staff's time and effort to turn Neyland Stadium into Thug Rehab University, good luck. But he better win come fall of 2011 or all of this "character" talk is going to look like pretty curtains on a mobile home.

Let the insults begin. (Btw: my favorites are the ones where people that have never run a college program point out that I don't know what I'm talking about because I've never run a college program...the hypocrisy is fantastic!)

VolsJoy writes:

in response to mcoll4:

You're right, it is about winning football games. But to do that you have to make sure that these kids understand what is required of them. As the old saying goes, "To whom much is given, much is required". We want to have these kids still here in 2 to 3 years. Many people commenting in these posts have little idea where some of these kids are actually coming from. When smoking pot, carrying guns and knives, robbery and even dog fighting are common place in your environment, these kids truly do not know right from wrong. This is the building character to re-educate these kids than our coach is talking about. It's a harsh reality and some of these kids do understand that this is their ticket out of the getto and lots of money in the NFL. But that doesn't mean that they have the right training to become useful citizens once they suddenly have all this money. We see this all the time.

This is a very important program and will benefit not only the university but society in general for years to come. I see posts on this site all the time with people saying there should only be one chance for things like smoking pot. You absolutely must understand where these kids are coming from and then be willing to give them a second or third chance. Many of these kids do not come from middle class families and do not have the same values as you or I. Some have no values at all. This is their life every day. So that last chance might be just the thing to turn them around and make them the type person you thought they were when they got here. Being from the deep south, I have seen a lot of this although I did not grow up this way. It would be nice if all this did not exist but it does.

So the next time you feel like putting these kids down for this, just walk a mile in their shoes before commenting. Better yet, get out and volunteer with some of the community programs and you'll see for yourself.

This is a great start and I am proud of our university for following through with it.

Thanks for your post, you are 100% right. Every one needs to take a good look into the life of these young men. They also need to look back at some of the ones that UT has sent to the NFL, had they had some of this kind of training they just might have made it better in the "Big Time" instead of time spent for DUI,Hit and Run, child support for multiply mothers,drugs to just name a few, and these were players good enought for the NFL! This is a good start to teaching a lesson in life that every one should support.

elmoe writes:

in response to VolFaninCT:

Can the basketball team utilize this program as well?

I would expect ALL students be priveledged to this program if it is put in place. Why discriminate against a kid who is in school to achieve an education who doesn't happen to play some sort of sport?

FWBVol writes:

As others have stated, the character problems start long before the kids get to the University of Tennessee or any other school.

I was talking to a high school coach the other day and said it is hard to find a kid that is the total package academically, athletically and character wise, but they are out there.

The character and academic kids sometimes lack the athletic ability. And even a lot of kids that have the athletic ability and character lack in the academics.

A lot, not all, of the great athletes at the high school level already think they are God's gift to their particular sport and are poison even at the high school level.

And the temptations of today's world are not restricted to the great athlete in the big city. I'm aware of a small high school in a county in north Florida about half way between Pensacola and Tallahassee that has a population of less than 25,000 and yet half the members of the baseball team were dismissed for smoking pot.

I believe university adminstrations are going to become more and more concerned with the mounting off the field incidents coming out of athletic programs and will crack down on the conduct of athletes.

What Derek Dooley is doing with the character program, if he is sucessful on the field, could become a model program for teams across the country.

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Guess you're implying that it is not possible to have an "All-Character" team that wins championships? VolinATL, I hope that's not true ... and pretty confident it's not.

Ok Gerry...tell us about that All-Character team that consistently wins championships (either conference or National). I mean, from my perspective (that in the modern era of college football, on the field talent is more responsible for success than having a character driven team) I can point out several examples of programs that have had big character problems and then gone on to be extremely successful on the field. Is it possible that an "All-Character" team can win championships? Sure. Is it likely? I don't know, but we haven't seen much evidence for that.

Ron1967 writes:

in response to Thunderstorm:

Many think he is a great guy but does he have what it takes to win a National Championship? The Jury is out on Dooley. The question is can he win!!!!!!

The jury is also still out on UT fans. Do they have the patience to allow a new, young coach the time and space he needs to develop the talent necessary to win?

PennVol writes:

I like the approach but ultimately the team will be gauged in how well it represents the university in wins and losses. It's the world we live in.

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