John Adams: Success for UT in Year Two?

John Adams

Derek Dooley comments after practice - April 7, 2011

If you are still puzzled by Derek Dooley’s spring math, I can help.

At the outset of spring football, the Tennessee coach pointed out this was Year One of his program. Astute followers of UT football distinctly remembered Dooley being on the job last year — hence, the confusion.

You’ve heard of “dog years.” These are “coach years.”

Dooley correctly ascertained the rebuilding job here was so monumental, one calendar year equated to two coaching years. So he dubbed his first season as Year Zero.

Such accounting is obviously very subjective. For example, new Vanderbilt coach James Franklin should have opened his first news conference with: “Welcome to Year Minus Two of our program.”

The fifth calendar year (assuming he has a fifth year) would officially begin Year Two of his program. By then, he could deal with the higher expectations — remaining in bowl contention until mid-November, perhaps.

No matter to what depths a program has descended, its fans invariably have great expectations for the second year. So it’s hardly surprising that many UT fans are optimistic about Dooley’s second season.

Last season is a big factor in those expectations. After a 2-6 start in which the Vols threatened to lose more games than any other team in school history, they won the last four games of the regular season and qualified for a bowl, which they also won if you subscribe to the antiquated theory that a game ends when there is no time remaining on the clock.

There’s another reason for second-year optimism. You only have to stroll through the SEC neighborhood to realize it.

Urban Meyer at Florida and Gene Chizik at Auburn each won a national championship in his second year on the job. And to think Auburn’s program was no better than the Vols’ a couple of years earlier.

Those are the best examples of a Year Two transformation. But almost every team in the conference can attest to recent success in a coach’s second year.

Nick Saban won an SEC championship in his second season at LSU and was 12-0 and playing for an SEC title in his second season at Alabama. Mark Richt was 13-1 and won a conference championship in his second season at Georgia.

Arkansas improved from 5-7 in 2008 to 8-5 in Bobby Petrino’s second season. Mississippi State went 9-4 last season, its second under Dan Mullen.

Steve Spurrier won eight games in his second season at South Carolina. So did Lou Holtz, whose first Gamecocks team was 0-11.

UT has had its own second-year bonanzas if you go back far enough.

A tie was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season for General Neyland in his second year at UT in 1927. Doug Dickey’s second team was 8-1-2 and ranked 10th nationally in 1965, a year after the Vols were 4-5-1 and failed to score more than a touchdown in seven games.

But it’s worth noting that in all the second-year success stories, none of those programs had three different coaches in three years as the Vols did from 2008 through 2010. Turnover isn’t necessarily synonymous with turnarounds.

Slight progress would be a realistic goal for UT’s next season. Then, maybe the program could take a take a sizeable leap forward in 2012.

That would be Season Two in coach years.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 37

VolinCalif writes:

Thanks for the Info John. I do believe that DD has it right about last year being ground Zero. Most programs , like you said , have something to work with in the 1st yer. Dooley didn't even have a attitude to build on.

Razor784 writes:

I didn't agree with the hire of Coach Dooley, but he did a nice job last year and he's recruiting fairly well, so by 2012 we should be at least in the mix for the SEC championship

Huttdawg100 writes:

Looking at the schedule, I think that a lot of us have reason to hope for at least a two game swing. Frankly, our offensive and defensive lines were as bad as ever. This year, those guys are bigger, stronger and more experienced than before. We've got a senior running back and excellent wide receivers. Our defense will be better. We're way more complexed than we were last year. Janzen Jackson will be back. Plus we're adding guys who will help immediately: Couch and Moore. I think we've got a lot to be hopeful about. I'm not saying we'll win a national championship, but I think we'll win 2 more games than last year and finish 8-4. That might be enough to win the SEC east depending on how things shake out.

ReVolver writes:

I am really starting to feel very optimistic about Dooley's approach and what he and his staff can accomplish here.

Fast forward to this Fall and a couple losses, and all the drama queens on the boards here will be callin' for his head and everyone else up there.

Hope people give him the time he needs to build a championship program.

SEAL_9821 writes:

I think every logically thinking Vol fan will agree that 2012 will be a year that we can expect big things from this team. I'm going for an 8-5 with a bowl win this year. We may do much better and I hope we do...but, I'm looking at our schedule and the roster of the opponents, and it is gruesome. If we don't compete for the east in 2012, we seriously have another problem on the Hill that may have to be dealt with.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Looking at the schedule, I think that a lot of us have reason to hope for at least a two game swing. Frankly, our offensive and defensive lines were as bad as ever. This year, those guys are bigger, stronger and more experienced than before. We've got a senior running back and excellent wide receivers. Our defense will be better. We're way more complexed than we were last year. Janzen Jackson will be back. Plus we're adding guys who will help immediately: Couch and Moore. I think we've got a lot to be hopeful about. I'm not saying we'll win a national championship, but I think we'll win 2 more games than last year and finish 8-4. That might be enough to win the SEC east depending on how things shake out.

We can sure win the SEC East. Fl is the game to watch. Not that Fl is better than Ga or SC but that game would be a real break through. In short we need to beat FL. and this just my be our year. COW is a very good OC but who the He.. likes him? I just think that he may have a little trouble getting the players fired up to play for him, I believe that was a big part of his problems at ND.

VOLliven2it writes:

Comparing what Chizik began with at Auburn to what Dooley faced at Tennessee shows a low amount of intelligence.
It will be improvement if we win 7 games and 8-4 in the regular season would be fantastic. But it will take time. Anyone demanding we win the SEC east in 2012 will likely be disappointed. We can all agree that we expect the team to play better overall for the whole game this fall. In doing that they will get one or two more wins. Dooley is doing fine. We will climb back up to the top in the east. Let's just not put too quick a time table on that even though it is what we all want.

Volfan1 writes:

Not to question the intent of the article, but it is not entirely correct historically. With Dickey's team, he WAS the third coach in three years:
1962 - Bowden Wyatt
1963 - Jim McDonald
1964 - Doug Dickey
You can look it up. JA, you might want to do a little more research.
It does not take away from what Dickey did in his second year, but adds to it. Let's hope Dooley can do the same.

murrayvol writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let go of the stone Duke.

lguy (Inactive) writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you don't like him, don't read him. It was a well crafted column; I'm sure it was far better than anything you could do. Sniping and complaining doesn't make you a man. Grow up.

fearthehound writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nothing wrong with Adams' writing--he's just not a homer. You should repect that.

'romantic ireland's dead and gone
it's with o'leary in the grave'--excuse me, I just watched 'Michael Collins' again

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I must give credit where credit is due: Adams, that line about the Vandy coach saying that this is year minus two was very clever and funny! I also am cautious about the VOLS taking a big step this year because they are so young at so many positions! Many have said 8 wins...if that happens, Dooley is National Coach of the year!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There are already enough buffoons in DC!

everydayisorange writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I pulled out the ole media guide to help with some stats. In Fulmer's early years, there was great success on and off the field. After the NC, there was only 1 back 2 back 10 win seasons, 2 9 win seasons, 2 8 win seasons, and 2 sub 500 seasons. The 1'st place in the east was as much failure on the other teams part as our success. He was 4 and 12 against FL, 3 and 4 against LSU, the last loss in the SECCG, and 3 and 4 against AU. He had winning records against GA and ALA, but most of the wins against both were earlier in his career. All of the other teams, he beat on a regular basis. I state all this info to show a gradual decrease in his coaching skills and also recruiting. I loved Coach Fulmer like most did, but his time to retire had come. Because he wouldn't do this, the only other option was dismissal. This is factual, but the people that still cling to him wont except it. I didn't like that he was fired mid-season, but history can't be changed, and complaining wont change anything. I hope that everyone will get behind our 2'cd year coach, because special years are ahead for our VOLS! GBO!!!

everydayisorange writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

I pulled out the ole media guide to help with some stats. In Fulmer's early years, there was great success on and off the field. After the NC, there was only 1 back 2 back 10 win seasons, 2 9 win seasons, 2 8 win seasons, and 2 sub 500 seasons. The 1'st place in the east was as much failure on the other teams part as our success. He was 4 and 12 against FL, 3 and 4 against LSU, the last loss in the SECCG, and 3 and 4 against AU. He had winning records against GA and ALA, but most of the wins against both were earlier in his career. All of the other teams, he beat on a regular basis. I state all this info to show a gradual decrease in his coaching skills and also recruiting. I loved Coach Fulmer like most did, but his time to retire had come. Because he wouldn't do this, the only other option was dismissal. This is factual, but the people that still cling to him wont except it. I didn't like that he was fired mid-season, but history can't be changed, and complaining wont change anything. I hope that everyone will get behind our 2'cd year coach, because special years are ahead for our VOLS! GBO!!!

Sorry for the above novel.

VolunteerLifer writes:

The key this year is injuries. We are thin almost everywhere. If the injury bug hits, we will have no answer. If it doesn't, we should have a decent, but probably not great, season. I'm looking forward to seeing our young talent developing, and to watching the staff recruit to build our depth and improve our talent level.

newtonrail writes:

in response to Volfan1:

Not to question the intent of the article, but it is not entirely correct historically. With Dickey's team, he WAS the third coach in three years:
1962 - Bowden Wyatt
1963 - Jim McDonald
1964 - Doug Dickey
You can look it up. JA, you might want to do a little more research.
It does not take away from what Dickey did in his second year, but adds to it. Let's hope Dooley can do the same.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers. It galls me every time they say Tennessee has never had 3 coaches in 3 years before.

TKO writes:

Dooley is trying to build this program in a solid fashion, the right way.Not a quick fix with cash.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

We can sure win the SEC East. Fl is the game to watch. Not that Fl is better than Ga or SC but that game would be a real break through. In short we need to beat FL. and this just my be our year. COW is a very good OC but who the He.. likes him? I just think that he may have a little trouble getting the players fired up to play for him, I believe that was a big part of his problems at ND.

Yeah. I've got the Florida game circled on my calendar too. They're breaking in a new offense, and they're breaking in a new defense. You've got people who were recruited for the spread, but now they're having to go to a pro style offense. I think they'll have growing pains early in the season, but get better late. Brantley is in many ways like Crompton, so I'm curious to see where his confidence level is.

I'm going to the Florida game this year. It will be my first SEC road game, and I'm looking forward to it.

give_him_6 writes:

Well, with the cakewalk we have with the non-conference schedule, we sohuld improve. I mean that's what that idiot Hamilton is trying to accomplish by scheduling one of the weakest non-conference schedules in UT history. Hammy must go!!!

rootin4volz writes:

in response to Volfan1:

Not to question the intent of the article, but it is not entirely correct historically. With Dickey's team, he WAS the third coach in three years:
1962 - Bowden Wyatt
1963 - Jim McDonald
1964 - Doug Dickey
You can look it up. JA, you might want to do a little more research.
It does not take away from what Dickey did in his second year, but adds to it. Let's hope Dooley can do the same.

What do you expect from an LSU fan who happens to be a "sports columnist"?

TennVol01 writes:

John Adams did not take into consideration that Coach Dooley is a "lawyer". Lawyers can twist words in and around your mind to the point that it all sounds like nonsense. Coach is simply downplaying the strength of this team. If we have a bad year .... he can say "I told you so." If we have a good year, he will say "We got a lot of lucky breaks." Gotta love it.

Volunatic writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Remember 59-20? That humiliating loss to uf occurred in that magical '07 SEC East championship season. Does 41-17 ring a bell? That was the loss to bama that season. After the '08 fiasco, it was time.

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

Duke...seriously...it has been 3 YEARS. Give it up already. I loved Coach Fulmer too, but he is gone. Get over it.

Bicardi = delusional. Oliver Stone would be proud. Do you work for KNS as ole' TJ says?

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Remember 59-20? That humiliating loss to uf occurred in that magical '07 SEC East championship season. Does 41-17 ring a bell? That was the loss to bama that season. After the '08 fiasco, it was time.

Yea, I also remember the 35-14 win over #2 ranked Georgia and being tied for the best record in the SEC going into the SEC Championship game and leading the eventual NC LSU in the 4th quarter. I also remember the win over ranked Wisconsin in the bowl game too that year. I also remeber Fulmer having to replace a great offensive co and install a whole new offense that he didnt have the players to execute the next year and him being fired before the season even ended. There was some bad , but there was some good in the year before Fulmer was fired. I just hope Dooley isnt held to the same expectations Fulmer was because I think he can build UT back into a respectable program, but the clock is ticking. UT fans arent known for their patience and realistic expectations. Dooley knows the record has to improve this year, thats why N Carolina was dropped from the schedule, and he is trying to lower the fan bases expectations by saying the football team is really bad and that this is really year one. I dont think it will work though, and I dont see any reason why UT cant win 8 games with this schedule.

Volunatic writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Yea, I also remember the 35-14 win over #2 ranked Georgia and being tied for the best record in the SEC going into the SEC Championship game and leading the eventual NC LSU in the 4th quarter. I also remember the win over ranked Wisconsin in the bowl game too that year. I also remeber Fulmer having to replace a great offensive co and install a whole new offense that he didnt have the players to execute the next year and him being fired before the season even ended. There was some bad , but there was some good in the year before Fulmer was fired. I just hope Dooley isnt held to the same expectations Fulmer was because I think he can build UT back into a respectable program, but the clock is ticking. UT fans arent known for their patience and realistic expectations. Dooley knows the record has to improve this year, thats why N Carolina was dropped from the schedule, and he is trying to lower the fan bases expectations by saying the football team is really bad and that this is really year one. I dont think it will work though, and I dont see any reason why UT cant win 8 games with this schedule.

Tennessee may have been tied with LSU and UGA for best SEC record prior to the SECCG in '07, but Tennessee also had a humiliating OOC loss, getting clobbered 45-31 by a very average (7-6) Cal team. If Tennessee had actually won the SEC in '07, the embarrassments of that season could be overlooked somewhat, but they did not win it. The biggest embarrassment was Hamilton giving Fulmer an unnecessary raise and a ridiculous buyout contract guarantee after '07.
I like Fulmer, and appreciate what he did for Tennessee, but I don't think he was fired prematurely. He had 10 years without any championships after '98.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Tennessee may have been tied with LSU and UGA for best SEC record prior to the SECCG in '07, but Tennessee also had a humiliating OOC loss, getting clobbered 45-31 by a very average (7-6) Cal team. If Tennessee had actually won the SEC in '07, the embarrassments of that season could be overlooked somewhat, but they did not win it. The biggest embarrassment was Hamilton giving Fulmer an unnecessary raise and a ridiculous buyout contract guarantee after '07.
I like Fulmer, and appreciate what he did for Tennessee, but I don't think he was fired prematurely. He had 10 years without any championships after '98.

See, thats the difference in us. I dont think just because UT didnt win the SEC Champ game it negates the good they did in 07 like winning the East, Tying for best conf record, whooping #2 ranked Georgia, and beat ranked Wisconsin in a bowl. Just like in 01 when they had the best record in the SEC , but didnt win the Champ game. It was disappointing, but I look at the season as a whole instead of picking out just the negatives to base my opinion on Fulmer. I do think he deserved another year to see if he could get the offense turned around. He never went more than 1 year in his 17 yrs that he didnt win at least 9 games so I think he wouldve done it again, but thats over now and hopefully Dooley can not just have the best record in the SEC , win the East , and beat ranked teams. Hopefully he can win the Championship game so he can live up to some UT fans expectations

orangeman1 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I too think it was a mistake to fire Fulmer but there is no turning back now and you are exaggerating things way too much. Dooley has pulled two good recruiting classes in, and I think he has the brains and work ethic to get UT back to competing for the SEC in the next couple of years. I do hope fans dont hold him to the same standard as Fulmer though because I dont think any coach can match his 1st 10 years of success in todays college football world. Just be thankful we have a coach with integrity like Fulmer did instead of Kiffin. He set the program back even further. Thanks Hamilton.

Coates writes:

We have a cupcake out of conference schedule, this is Dooley's second year (in spite of what he says), and the SEC East is as weak as it has ever been. If Dooley doesn't win at least 8 games then he probably won't ever build UT into a national power. All of the other successful coaches you mentioned made their mark the second year and some of them inherited programs with losing records, so this is the year for Dooley to start making his move.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to lakindofguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BJ Coleman. There were several more that are starting at other schools if you care do the research. And if you think Fulmer was worse than the other coaches that were replaced, I dont now what to say except look at his record and achievments compared to the others he named then get back with me.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to lakindofguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Also you might want to look at the depth chart before you make absurd comments like we dont have any juniors or seniors at all.

NorthwestVol writes:

While, like everyone else, I'd love an immediate climb to the top, I just don't see a dramatic one year improvement. I think Coach Dooley can get the job done in the long term, but I think he's going to try to run a clean program and build from the foundation up. Under Dooley success may be defined with the Vols topping out at 8-10 wins a year, occasional SEC East title and such. If he can do that with kids that stay off police reports, maintain a decent graduation rate and with coaches that steer clear of the NCAA, then I'll once again be a happy Vol fan.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Obviously you can't read or maybe incapable of understanding english? I gave the series of events that led to Fulmers's release, some parts were left out, but were not relevent, or maybe you would rather just complain about were the team is at in the present? Either way, I don't give a damn, because you don't either!

everydayisorange writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As I stated, I loved coach Fulmer, but he had become complacent in his position. He was a good coach, but in no way should he be mentioned with JOPA. Paterno is a legend, but Fulmer is a legend only in your's and other Fulmerites mind!

UofTNVol writes:

I wish Fulmer was good enough to land a job somewhere far away from Knoxville for a while. GBO

UofTNVol writes:

For all you who have forgotten why Fulmer had to go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KChSpO...

If you aren't one of the 100 or so Vol fans still in the stadium during that clip then you should really just shut up. If you're still on the Fulmer whine-wagon, either you didn't really support your hero so you didn't go, you sold your tickets to Bama fans cause you'd given up, or you left at half time because you couldn't watch anymore of the jacked-up trainwreck anymore... again.

Now put your money where your mouth is and tell the truth: where were you?

OldNumber7 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well for starters, that NC was because of an NFL Pro Bowl team and very..very depleted SEC teams...not because of great coaching. Great coaching would have sustained some level of success...but...we all know what happened. Phil hired a nobody to the most important role Tennessee had during his tenure to that point - a great OC. The next decade proved 98 was an accident from a head coach perspective. And the 2001 team showed the 98 team yielded good recruits..but even they laid an egg against a very vulnerable Saban LSU team...that was a huge showing of the end for the program and its lack of experience at OC. What ensued was an outcoached and out-recruited fest for 8 years. Shall we go over 2005? As for 2007 the real teams in the conference beat each other up that year? Can't lose to UF and UA in the same season by 100-37 and keep your job here. Vandy fared better against those teams that year. If you think 100-37 was an accident you are very naive. So Dooley is literally starting from zero. He had freshmen last year...now he has freshmen and sophomores. A bowl bid should be our highest expectation. IBM was king of the world a while back too. But refusal to evolve killed them. At least Bear Bryant knew his head was gone if he didn't evolve...he did evolve (wishbone). Fulmer made very risky and bad choices...starting with Sanders.

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