Editor's note: Tennessee basketball signee Trae Golden's name was spelled incorrectly in an earlier version of this story.
MEMPHIS - When you've taken over a football team that basically has no playmakers, you consider every option to acquire or maintain talent.
It is certainly that way for first-year Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley, who was in Memphis on Tuesday with men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, at the Hilton for the annual Big Orange Caravan spring tour stop.
Dooley said he's leaving the door open for sophomore running back Bryce Brown to return to the team, though Dooley quickly added that Brown has not indicated in recent conversations he wants to return.
Brown, who ran for 460 yards and three touchdowns in 101 carries as a backup last season to departing senior Montario Hardesty, quit the squad before the start of spring practice.
The nation's No. 1 high school running back a year ago, Brown was persuaded to sign with Tennessee by previous coach Lane Kiffin, who left unexpectedly in January to coach Southern California. He has remained enrolled at Tennessee and has yet to transfer.
"I don't think he's coming back, but if he wanted to, the first thing I'd do is talk to our team to see if they'd want him back," Dooley said. "I think at the end of the day, our team would welcome Bryce back, if that's what he wanted to do.
"But Bryce is going to have to want to come back. He's not going to be easy. He's not going to be handed anything. I'm not going to make a recruiting pitch to get him."
Dooley, a one-time assistant at LSU for Nick Saban, understands he needs all the help he can get, especially after watching Vols' game film from last season when Tennessee finished 7-6.
"When you look at the inexperience we have going into this season, it's a concern," Dooley said. "I don't think there's ever been a situation where you have five new offensive linemen, a new quarterback and a new running back with a new head coach.
"Then along with that goes a depth issue. We can't afford to lose a lot of guys with just 75 players on scholarship. Those are things you can't fix right away."
Unlike football, a basketball coach can solve key personnel losses with just a few signees. Which is why Pearl, with such incoming talent as signees Tobias Harris (the nation's No. 1 high school power forward), Trae Golden, Georgia's Mr. Basketball) and Marquette transfer Jeronne Maymon, is confident his team can make another strong NCAA tournament run.
Maybe not as deep as this past season, when the 28-9 Vols narrowly missed making their first Final Four appearance ever, losing to Michigan State, 70-69, in the Midwest Regional finals.
The close call was bittersweet for Pearl, especially since just a few days after the loss he had to make his annual trip to the Final Four for the NABC coaches' convention.
"If you let me be in the Elite Eight every year with a chance to go to the Final Four on the last possession of the game, I'll sign up for that right now," Pearl said.
"The painful thing was going to Indianapolis (site of the Final Four) without my basketball team, knowing that (Colts quarterback and Tennessee alum) Peyton (Manning) is in that city.
"Peyton is Tennessee, and he and I were in touch during the (NCAA tournament) run. He and I had big plans. We would probably have gotten a fire truck and had a parade through the middle of the town. That city would have been conflicted between (Final Four semifinalist) Butler (located in Indianapolis) and Tennessee, but they would have put on orange for Peyton. I would have worked a deal with the NCAA, and had him sit next to me as a member of my staff."