Angst with access: Confusion at UT over who is allowed, and when, at practices

An apparent misunderstanding has some Tennessee football lettermen concerned about head coach Derek Dooley's policy decisions.

The discord began in mid-February when Dooley cleared UT's indoor practice facility of all visitors not involved in the upcoming conditioning drills.

Unbeknownst to Dooley, former UT players were in the group escorted from the building, according to senior associate athletic director David Blackburn.

Blackburn said that Dooley has since spoken to the board of UT's Lettermen's Club and sent a letter to former players, mostly to welcome them on campus - with a few stipulations.

Most importantly, if a former player wants to attend practice, he's asked to inform the football office beforehand.

"The lettermen are always welcome here to stop in and visit," said Blackburn. "They're always welcome at practice."

Dooley was not available for comment Monday, but did speak to former defensive tackle Wes Brown, one of the players unceremoniously escorted from UT's complex.

Brown said Dooley called Monday to apologize and the two even joked about the situation. Brown said Dooley said he wants former players to be involved and is the opposite of the reputation that is preceding him among some former lettermen.

"He was basically telling me there were so many fresh faces (in the complex)," Brown said. "I understand that. I wasn't upset or mad."

Brown said he didn't think much about being asked to leave, that he only planned to stay for a few minutes and was close to leaving for class anyway.

Brown said UT's last coach, Lane Kiffin, also had a small circle of confidants he trusted in the early days of his tenure before opening up.

Brown said he understands the need for security, that onlookers could be from other schools.

"I'd want you out of there, too," Brown said. "It was pretty odd how fast word traveled (among former players)."

Before Dooley addressed the problem with Brown and other lettermen, rumors circulated among former players that they might not be welcome at practice and during team functions.

Former UT safety Eric Berry, who has been preparing for the NFL draft since January, said he planned to meet with Dooley today.

"That was one of the things I'm going to bring up," the All-American said of the snub Monday on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page.

Berry said he heard of the new rumored policies.

"One of my former teammates called and told me that he (Dooley) had kicked a few guys out of practice and they weren't able to watch practice," Berry said. "I got a message from someone else saying that they were also kicked out of practice.

"They were very upset about it. I was trying to figure out what was going on. I thought a lot of people were just playing (joking), but I found out it was a serious matter."

Berry admitted he wasn't completely clear on the new policies. But if he's asked to give back - financially or otherwise - he expects to be welcomed by the athletic program.

"They're going to ask us to give back, but at the same time people have played here," Berry said. "We've played, sweat (and) cried. It's been a big deal. A lot of people have put a lot of time into Tennessee and the 'T' on our helmet.

"It would feel nice to be able to come back and at least watch practice and just see what's going on with our university that we were a part of."

Former UT offensive lineman Chris Scott said former players during practice were always a strong motivator.

"You look at them. They set the foundation for me to be here," said Scott, who also is preparing for the NFL draft. "They're on the sidelines looking at you and how you play ball. They're motivating you. That's always a good feeling."

With the meeting between Dooley and Berry looming, the Jim Thorpe Award winner's opinion will surely carry more weight among his peers.

Berry was one of the most respected players on his team, highly thought of for his selflessness, having never complained through UT's recent struggles.

Berry also knows UT's traditions as well as anyone. His father, James Berry, was a standout running back at UT.

"Tennessee is going to be Tennessee regardless," Eric Berry said. "Whoever comes in, it's still going to be Tennessee."

Access Policy: With Tennessee scheduled to announce its media policy Wednesday, not much access is expected.

Dooley has coached under Alabama coach Nick Saban at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins. Saban is known for granting extremely limited media access.

Under Kiffin, spring practice and preseason scrimmages were open.

Fall practices were open for approximately the first 20 minutes only to the media.

Former UT coach Phillip Fulmer had open practices for most of his career, but then closed them beginning in 2004.

Berry said having an audience at practice had its advantages.

"It made us compete in practice," he said. "We were used to that game atmosphere and used to being around a lot of people, and crowds of people watching us compete. When we got out into the stadium, it wasn't anything different."

The Vols start spring practice Thursday.

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Comments » 136

USNVOL writes:

Maybe its the limited media access that Mr. Hooker is most concerned about?

SmokeyHowls writes:

Hey, Peyton we need you to leave practice, but before do please leave your check, with the secretary at the door. What a joke. These guys have given more to UT than Dooley has dreamed of. If he doesn't let players come to practice (except for Tee Martin, since he is at Kentucky) then they should take their check and bye their wives or kids something nice.

Major_Magilicutty writes:

Not a good start. I'd have to say you should know who it is you're kicking to the curb before you give them the boot. I'm willing to give Dooley the benefit of the doubt, but this ain't pretty, no matter how you slice it.

TommyJack writes:

in response to SmokeyHowls:

Hey, Peyton we need you to leave practice, but before do please leave your check, with the secretary at the door. What a joke. These guys have given more to UT than Dooley has dreamed of. If he doesn't let players come to practice (except for Tee Martin, since he is at Kentucky) then they should take their check and bye their wives or kids something nice.

Perhaps you should read the article, Smokey.

nocleats writes:

in response to USNVOL:

Maybe its the limited media access that Mr. Hooker is most concerned about?

You are dead on. Not only Hooker and the media, but also some of the old "insiders" who like to blab all things seen and done.

OrangeVeins writes:

I agree, but I'm thinking that he just doesn't know faces really and you know the Old Dirtbag that left could send a scout in to check things out, posing as a former player (for an example)?

Other than that, we can't assume that CDD is a scumbag type?!?! Really? BTW not directing hatred towards you or anything....just think he's a good guy, who just don't know yet?

Psychovol writes:

Contempt before investigation is not good policy or public relations. This could have easily been avoided.

forkball writes:

Much ado over nothing.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Coach needs to welcome all former players to be wherever they want to be if they are not in the way. I'm sure he will clear this up. As far as media, he needs to also be welcoming or else eventually there will be an adversarial relationship....

gaj619 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Perhaps you should read the article, Smokey.

I agree. Seems to be quite a few 'kneejerks' on tonight.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Dooley-You cannot put UT Football on Lockdown. UT Football is a way of life around here and you are alienating the team from the fans. You don't have to do everything Saban's way.

GerryOP writes:

Move on folks, nothing to see here.

Madkels writes:

Once again, the media tries to create drama where there is none.

Dooley will have everyone understanding his policies....don't worry.

OMike writes:

Luckily CDD is probably a lot smarter than me and doesn't read these BS comments.

BlackSilverVol writes:

Just to lighten things up, us Vols fans apparently aren't the only ones who think "what's his name" is a girlie-girl. LOL - Courtesy of the College football section of Profootballtalk.com

Posted by John Taylor on March 15, 2010 1:38 PM ET
There really is no rhyme or for the content of the following post, except for the fact that it's funny as (Jon Gruden's favorite word).

In the spirit of March Madness, the men's magazine Esquire is doing an NCAA basketball-style bracket to determine the Sexiest Woman Alive.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Southern Cal head coach Lane Kiffin is included in the pool of 64. Not his drop-dead-gorgeous wife Layla; the head coach himself is the only male in the field.

Again, I have no clue why.

Kiffin enters the "tournament" as the No. 16 seed in what could only be called the WTF?!? Regional, and will square off with LPGA star Natalie Gulbis. The description of Kiffin by the magazine? "Such a pretty girl. Sure raises a ruckus."

If Kiffin could somehow pull off the upset, it would set up an intriguing match-up in the second round as Kiffin/Gulbis gets the winner of the Erin Andrews-Danica Patrick tilt.

Kiffin vs. Andrews? Oh yeah, bring it on.

And, just for the record, I voted for Kiffin. I implore you all to do the same and get the word out to your friends, co-workers and better halves to do likewise. Let's do right by Kiffin and put him in his rightful place: on the throne as the Queen of College Football.

This will be a tough row to hoe, though; as of this writing, Kiffin is trailing 83 percent to 17 percent.

C'mon, people. Get out and vote. Do it for your country, do it for the game you love, and, most importantly, do it for Kiffin.

He deserves your support in this endeavor.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to Top

flatrock writes:

Is Chris Scott finally attempting to get in shape?
About 2 years too late!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Move on folks, nothing to see here.

You got that right Gerry!

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea, right. Lucky. You don't go 14-0 and 26-2 in two seasons and get lucky, dipwad.

WillieGault writes:

in response to OMike:

Luckily CDD is probably a lot smarter than me and doesn't read these BS comments.

Amen Mike

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Yea, right. Lucky. You don't go 14-0 and 26-2 in two seasons and get lucky, dipwad.

Why are you on this website? Has Saban so completely restricted media access that you have to come to a Vols website to get your news? I can happily say that I have never been to a Bama blog, news site, or anything relating to your team. Want to know why? BECAUSE I DON'T CARE ABOUT BAMA FOOTBALL AND NEITHER DO MOST VOLS FANS. WHY ARE YOU READING ARTICLES AND POSTING ON THIS WEBSITE????

ccVOLSdhf writes:

in response to BlackSilverVol:

Just to lighten things up, us Vols fans apparently aren't the only ones who think "what's his name" is a girlie-girl. LOL - Courtesy of the College football section of Profootballtalk.com

Posted by John Taylor on March 15, 2010 1:38 PM ET
There really is no rhyme or for the content of the following post, except for the fact that it's funny as (Jon Gruden's favorite word).

In the spirit of March Madness, the men's magazine Esquire is doing an NCAA basketball-style bracket to determine the Sexiest Woman Alive.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Southern Cal head coach Lane Kiffin is included in the pool of 64. Not his drop-dead-gorgeous wife Layla; the head coach himself is the only male in the field.

Again, I have no clue why.

Kiffin enters the "tournament" as the No. 16 seed in what could only be called the WTF?!? Regional, and will square off with LPGA star Natalie Gulbis. The description of Kiffin by the magazine? "Such a pretty girl. Sure raises a ruckus."

If Kiffin could somehow pull off the upset, it would set up an intriguing match-up in the second round as Kiffin/Gulbis gets the winner of the Erin Andrews-Danica Patrick tilt.

Kiffin vs. Andrews? Oh yeah, bring it on.

And, just for the record, I voted for Kiffin. I implore you all to do the same and get the word out to your friends, co-workers and better halves to do likewise. Let's do right by Kiffin and put him in his rightful place: on the throne as the Queen of College Football.

This will be a tough row to hoe, though; as of this writing, Kiffin is trailing 83 percent to 17 percent.

C'mon, people. Get out and vote. Do it for your country, do it for the game you love, and, most importantly, do it for Kiffin.

He deserves your support in this endeavor.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to Top

Guys this is so true and so funny. If your ready for a good laugh Google... Esquire magazine lane kiffin....we can only this ends up on ESPN

VolAlum2003 (Inactive) writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with what you're saying about Dooley and the media. He doesn't seem to want to use the media as a tool to benefit the program. In an SEC Network world...that does not bode well. If Dooley doesn't start winning early, he won't be able to rely on the media to defend him.

I don't know what to make about this whole former player/practice debacle. My initial feeling is that this was just Dooley figuring out where his unofficial boundaries lie. Still, this was a mistake that shouldn't have happened. You would think that the University would provide Dooley with someone to advise him on UT "culture," especially considering the last coach.

I also agree with the Bama being lucky thing. Luck is a huge part of winning a BCS championship. We got lucky a number of times during our championship run too (Florida's missed FG, Arkansas QB fumble). However, Saban is, unfortunately, a good coach. Championship success includes the ability to capitalize on your luck and the misfortunes of your opponents and Saban does that consistently.

Couchdummy writes:

No big deal here. Will be resolved.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to Madkels:

Once again, the media tries to create drama where there is none.

Dooley will have everyone understanding his policies....don't worry.

Yep.

TDTenn writes:

keep randy sanders out, too. I saw him at the UK basketball game in lexington cheering for the kats. I think he coaches youth league football up there.

99gator writes:

i don't know why, but y'all seem to have more stories regarding football that are unrelated to football than any program i can think of.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to SmokeyHowls:

Hey, Peyton we need you to leave practice, but before do please leave your check, with the secretary at the door. What a joke. These guys have given more to UT than Dooley has dreamed of. If he doesn't let players come to practice (except for Tee Martin, since he is at Kentucky) then they should take their check and bye their wives or kids something nice.

Read the article again
It's just Hooker and his big stick trying to stir the pot and put a negative spin on the new coach!!!
Or a better idea that I am going to incorporate is when I see Hooker wrote the article, I will not read it!!!
EVER

GreerVol22 writes:

Awwww, did someone hurt Adams Jr.'s feelings? I can hear him now....."Coach Kiffin was my best friend, and he always let me play in his sandbox. I know, I'll write a nasty about Coach Dooley so everyone will hate him. yea, that's it!"

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Yea, right. Lucky. You don't go 14-0 and 26-2 in two seasons and get lucky, dipwad.

yea, i heard that since you guys are so good now, they're gonna move your team to the AFC central division next year.

now you can go home to your tailor park and comb your mullet and work on your nova and not have to mess with us anymore.

tngilmer writes:

in response to Major_Magilicutty:

Not a good start. I'd have to say you should know who it is you're kicking to the curb before you give them the boot. I'm willing to give Dooley the benefit of the doubt, but this ain't pretty, no matter how you slice it.

What he said.

smokyredbone writes:

Iloved EB as a player,but when did he become the AD? He chose to leave the program early,he needs to support the program or shut the FU !!

shaymous writes:

in response to forkball:

Much ado over nothing.

Yep...

smokyredbone writes:

First practice and 30-40 extra people in the room. Maybe thats what will make him better than the last two, he went to work instead of yucking it up with visitors. He will and has welcomed former players,just wanted his teams attention for their first workout! V,B

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to forkball:

Much ado over nothing.

Yes...the media must be starving for something to write about....just starving for a crumb beneath the table.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe you got the right attitude, but I just can't seem to get it. Throwing Wes Brown and our other players out of a Tennessee practice? That's worse than hanging pictures of USC players...unacceptable.

allntl1#565211 writes:

As sand sifting through the fingers of time, These Are The Days of Our Lives. Que the music.
Hey how about, As The World Turns.

Dooly snubed me and I had to leave anyway and go to class.

NeylandWest writes:

Good lord...so many experts out here with regard to the entire situation. Are you missing the part of the story where Dooley called Wes Brown to apologize and explain his position? Are you missing the part where Dooley is meeting with Berry to go over things?

Trust me...if the guy was alienating players, he wouldn't take time out of a busy spring practice week/recruiting period to do so.

If you want to talk about people who tried to alienate players and fans, look no further than Kiffin. Josh McNeil sure has a lot to say about how CLK put USC propaganda in the trophy case and in the locker room.

Hell...that's alienation. Get over yourself, Hooker.

orangepaws writes:

It doesn't really matter. We'll see the Orange/White game. We'll see how we play in games. We're talkin' about PRACTICE...jeesh...GO BIG ORANGE!!

allntl1#565211 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I do not think hurting of feelings is the intention, I think we as Vol fans do not understand why you would want to hang out on UT sites unless you are a closet fan. I am a Tide fan and proud to admit it. I have a box in the laundry room, if it was good enough for my mom it's good enough for me. Clean Tide!!

barefoot43 writes:

Hooker is and has always been an idiot. He attempts to make chicken salad out of chicken #$***. If I was a former player from long ago and if I went over there they would not (nor should they) know who I am. This staff has only been there a few weeks and are actually working. Give them a break! If Hooker wants to pout about not being allowed access, then let him pout by himself and other media people. But please be man enough to pout by yourself and not drag other people (players) into the cry baby's arena.

vol49 writes:

Just HAD to do it didn't you Hooker? Just HAD to mention his name again.

Ayres_Hall writes:

No, this was a GREAT start.... Coach Dooley has to set the rules, the tempo, the direction. If it must end with him, it must also start with him.

Saban-like is good and this will be "no news" in a day or so.

Pullingguard writes:

It is hoped that Coach Dooley is highly successful at Tennessee and builds championship teams, however; there have been enough toe stumping so far that tells us all that Coach is on a learnng curve and graduating from the minors to the majors takes on a different scene. Running UT like a Saban run team just may not work, for its hard to copy someone and have the same results, in the media or on the field. So, lets hope that Coach Dooley finds his comfort level where previous and present players are comfortable.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to Madkels:

Once again, the media tries to create drama where there is none.

Dooley will have everyone understanding his policies....don't worry.

I agree, this is much ado about nothing...

Dooley doesn't know every former UT player. He cleared it up, and as far as I'm concerned, it's been dealt with sufficiently.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well, boys, we got one that fell for the headlines here...

I suppose you gobble up everything you read in the NYT, WaPO, etc as well.

seems like a lot of trolls rendering their unwelcome opinions on this site before dooley coaches his first game.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to vol49:

Just HAD to do it didn't you Hooker? Just HAD to mention his name again.

Says his name every night! lol

twovols#669523 writes:

As usual-- Hooker making a mountain out of a mole-hill....without garnering all the facts. Even the former players understand this !!! Just a few details to be worked out. Leave it alone.

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

Coach needs to welcome all former players to be wherever they want to be if they are not in the way. I'm sure he will clear this up. As far as media, he needs to also be welcoming or else eventually there will be an adversarial relationship....

The media is a big part of what's wrong with sports today (and this society in general). If they would stay out of most issues, things would be better. He will get this corrected and everything will be just fine. I won't waste a minute of worry over this stupid article.

GO VOLS!!!!!!

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to twovols#669523:

As usual-- Hooker making a mountain out of a mole-hill....without garnering all the facts. Even the former players understand this !!! Just a few details to be worked out. Leave it alone.

Hooker got his press pass in a box of Lucky Charms.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

Coach needs to welcome all former players to be wherever they want to be if they are not in the way. I'm sure he will clear this up. As far as media, he needs to also be welcoming or else eventually there will be an adversarial relationship....

The media will be the media, regardless of whether he holds open practices or not... unfortunately, objective journalism is dead.

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