Derek Dooley: Vols 'Light years ahead’ of last year

Culture change was big priority

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, right, looks on while defensive back Prentiss Waggner (23), left, runs a drill during practice at Haslam Field on campus Saturday, March 26, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, right, looks on while defensive back Prentiss Waggner (23), left, runs a drill during practice at Haslam Field on campus Saturday, March 26, 2011.

The priority was clear from the moment Derek Dooley took over at Tennessee.

The Vols coach had an exact plan in mind on how to make it happen as well.

But specifically finding a way to gauge his ongoing effort to change the culture at UT isn’t quite as easy for Dooley as he heads into his second season with the program.

There are no statistics to track the character of his players or polls that reflect the value of community service, but that doesn’t mean Dooley hasn’t been able to see some progress over his 15 months at UT. It just is hard to prove numerically.

“Well, how do you measure it, that’s a really good question,” Dooley said earlier this month. “I think you can’t really quantify it, but there’s always events that give you an indication of where you are culture-wise. I think we are light years ahead of where we were a year ago — I know we are.

“Ultimately it’s hard for your culture to fully change until the guys that you went out and sold your program to, who believe in everything you believe, come in and they cycle through the program. I think you’re constantly in any company, you’re most concerned about your culture.”

Dooley recognized that right away with the Vols and put cleaning up their image at the top of his to-do list a year ago, instituting the Vol for Life program for educational purposes, adopting a hard line on discipline and spending a great deal of time getting to know recruits to avoid potentially risky situations down the road.

There were still some numbers that Dooley can’t avoid during his season at the helm, with a handful of off-the-field incidents popping up throughout the year. And while that hasn’t been uncommon at UT or even around the SEC East at schools like Georgia and Florida and in some respects might be unavoidable at times, having four significant incidents throughout the year is still a number Dooley would prefer to lower — or eliminate entirely.

“I think in any football program, and really in any athletics program, with the scrutiny and the exposure and the number of players and the socioeconomic backgrounds and all these factors jumbled in — you’re dealing with young people,” he said. “You’re going to have incidents. I don’t think you will ever not have incidents, just like you go on any college campus, there are incidents.

“But when those incidents become part of what you are and who you are, that’s when it’s a concern. I felt like that was the case when I got here.”

That wasn’t a problem which could be fixed overnight after Dooley arrived, and he has obviously had a few issues to address early in his UT career.

Darren Myles provided the first discipline test with an arrest in the hours after Dooley’s first Orange and White Game, then tried him again for his role in the Bar Knoxville brawl — an event that initially produced an arrest for Myles and receiver Da’Rick Rogers before the majority of charges were dismissed.

Myles was kicked off the team for his second run-in anyway, linebacker Greg King and defensive lineman Marlon Walls were both suspended in the fallout and Rogers faced some internal punishment.

Jacques Smith was arrested during the season after returning from a road loss at South Carolina on charges of simple assault for another bar fight. The freshman pleaded guilty, received judicial diversion and didn’t miss any playing time.

During the offseason, safety Brent Brewer added another arrest to the UT record after a domestic dispute in February which earned a five-week suspension from team activities by Dooley before the charges were reduced to offensive touching, which also came with judicial diversion.

But those four brushes with the law under Dooley’s watch aren’t enough to convince him there hasn’t been headway.

“I didn’t view those as setbacks,” Dooley said. “I don’t feel like that’s the case with either of those scenarios (with Smith and Brewer). Both of them were extremely remorseful, both of them handled it as well as any young person could handle it after it happened. Both of them have forged ahead and not only had a tremendous attitude about it, but they’re doing great in school and performing very well on the football field.

“In some ways, I view that as a good test case for where you are, and I feel like it showed we’re making a lot of progress.”

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 47

mountainbrook writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hardly. But Muschamp does have a way to go to catch up to Urban Meyer's record of player arrests and traffic offenses.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you get time and a half on weekends?

everydayisorange writes:

I know that this sort of thing happens at all colleges and universities, but I hope the VFL program gives the student/atheletes some mentoring that is sorely needed. Our program has developed a bit of a reputation over the past years, so if CDD can gain a bit of control, then I can say there has been progress made. I know I don't make a very good example with some of my comments, ( I sometimes let the trolls control what I say, no excuse ), but I think that our coach will get this under control. As he said, there will always be some mistakes made, I just hope the level of offences continue to decline in severity!

everydayisorange writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

I know that this sort of thing happens at all colleges and universities, but I hope the VFL program gives the student/atheletes some mentoring that is sorely needed. Our program has developed a bit of a reputation over the past years, so if CDD can gain a bit of control, then I can say there has been progress made. I know I don't make a very good example with some of my comments, ( I sometimes let the trolls control what I say, no excuse ), but I think that our coach will get this under control. As he said, there will always be some mistakes made, I just hope the level of offences continue to decline in severity!

May I add that regardless of how I feel about the trolls on this site, I really hope that all the programs in the S.E.C. can get the bad apples off their teams and maintain some measure of control. These players need guideance and mentoring as well to make good citizens of the future. These problems the conference teams have, need to be addressed for their future and the overall apperance of the conference, as a whole.

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What the Coon said!

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

May I add that regardless of how I feel about the trolls on this site, I really hope that all the programs in the S.E.C. can get the bad apples off their teams and maintain some measure of control. These players need guideance and mentoring as well to make good citizens of the future. These problems the conference teams have, need to be addressed for their future and the overall apperance of the conference, as a whole.

Very well put, sir. I believe that too many times some of us revel in the fact that an opposing team is having disciplinary problems, and we forget that these are young men and women (no matter what school they attend) who need guidance and mentoring to help them become the kind of citizens who can be productive members of society. We all need to remember that football, basketball, or whatever sport they play is just a game, and will not be the legacy most of them leave. The legacy most of them will leave when all's said and done is: "What kind of person have I become, what do I do for the betterment of my fellow man, and have I done everything within my power to make sure my family is taken care of?" Don't think we can ask for any more if the answers to those three things are positive.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

TennVol01 writes:

If we are "Light years ahead" this year .... we should win maybe 8 games? Maybe, just maybe, we can beat a down and out Florida.

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 41
Montana Grizzly Bears 17

iowavol writes:

in response to everydayisorange:

May I add that regardless of how I feel about the trolls on this site, I really hope that all the programs in the S.E.C. can get the bad apples off their teams and maintain some measure of control. These players need guideance and mentoring as well to make good citizens of the future. These problems the conference teams have, need to be addressed for their future and the overall apperance of the conference, as a whole.

The fact that you had nine "I"s in the first post was worth noting. Then you commented on your own post and added three more "I"s. Twelve I's to make one point - impressive.

Any program, any institution, any organization is going to have issues that are contrary to the culture of that organization. The fact that college athletics is under a microscope so to speak means that every transgression is portrayed by orders of magnitude bigger than it really it is. Add to it he elite status that so many of these athletes have enjoyed most of their lives, managing the issues is hard at best. Having said that, it is critically important Dooley continues to emphasize those things that are going to make these athletes successful in and out of football. Progress has been made, but improving over the former coach isn't really that hard.

VOLliven2it writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oops, you still have Vol in your name!

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to iowavol:

The fact that you had nine "I"s in the first post was worth noting. Then you commented on your own post and added three more "I"s. Twelve I's to make one point - impressive.

Any program, any institution, any organization is going to have issues that are contrary to the culture of that organization. The fact that college athletics is under a microscope so to speak means that every transgression is portrayed by orders of magnitude bigger than it really it is. Add to it he elite status that so many of these athletes have enjoyed most of their lives, managing the issues is hard at best. Having said that, it is critically important Dooley continues to emphasize those things that are going to make these athletes successful in and out of football. Progress has been made, but improving over the former coach isn't really that hard.

The fact that you used 0 "i"s in your post, except to comment on the other poster= IRRELEVANT.

On topic, I am proud of this coaching staff and FB team. We can only get better from here! GBO!!!

miatatom writes:

Coach Dooley, I support you 100%.

GO VOLS!!!

everydayisorange writes:

in response to iowavol:

The fact that you had nine "I"s in the first post was worth noting. Then you commented on your own post and added three more "I"s. Twelve I's to make one point - impressive.

Any program, any institution, any organization is going to have issues that are contrary to the culture of that organization. The fact that college athletics is under a microscope so to speak means that every transgression is portrayed by orders of magnitude bigger than it really it is. Add to it he elite status that so many of these athletes have enjoyed most of their lives, managing the issues is hard at best. Having said that, it is critically important Dooley continues to emphasize those things that are going to make these athletes successful in and out of football. Progress has been made, but improving over the former coach isn't really that hard.

Me not sure what your 1'st paragraph means, but me hopes this will help you to feel better! LOL!!

volpreacher writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kentucky.

everydayisorange writes:

in response to volpreacher:

Kentucky.

I have tried unsuccessfully to explain this to fan and troll alike! Ky had a winning record when we beat them, and only after the bowl game was their record below .500. Some folks can't see the forrest for the trees!

tntoak writes:

UT beat Kentucky when they had a winning record, and they should have beat both LSU and UNC had it not been for the endgames with time being put back on the clock (notice that the NCAA addressed that for the 2011 season and beyond). But this article isn't even about on-field performance, it's about the culture of the program and reducing the number of incidents. And it makes sense. If you don't have players getting arrested and thereby distracted due to off-field issues, then you will have players that can focus on the game at hand better. Ultimately, that will translate into on field performance.

RemembertheAlamo writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tenn-Martin was 6-5... and we beat them 50 to zip.......I can see the Forest and the Trees.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

lol dude you're straight goofy! Chawmp chawmp Gator fan hahaha

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to tntoak:

UT beat Kentucky when they had a winning record, and they should have beat both LSU and UNC had it not been for the endgames with time being put back on the clock (notice that the NCAA addressed that for the 2011 season and beyond). But this article isn't even about on-field performance, it's about the culture of the program and reducing the number of incidents. And it makes sense. If you don't have players getting arrested and thereby distracted due to off-field issues, then you will have players that can focus on the game at hand better. Ultimately, that will translate into on field performance.

In the record books, UT lost to both LSU and UNC. However, I have video proof that the Vols were victorious in both games ;)

arkyvol writes:

every time i try to convince myself to feel good about dooley, i remember he was hammy's pick.

Razzle writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A feeling I have...

Tennessee 21 Florida 10.

Razzle writes:

in response to Razzle:

A feeling I have...

Tennessee 21 Florida 10.

Another one...

Kentucky 35 Florida 31.

RaineyVol writes:

in response to TennVol01:

If we are "Light years ahead" this year .... we should win maybe 8 games? Maybe, just maybe, we can beat a down and out Florida.

Florida won't be down and out this year.. they still have a lot of talent!

allvol32 writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, I want TN to beat every team that they play. Do I hate those other teams? No. Do I act like a moron and make idiotic post after idiotic post on other team's fan sites? No

Dude, you and a couple of others on this site have some very serious character issues.

To quote John Rich "why don't you go take a swim in Lake You and see what you can find".

And to quote Don Devoe when he was coaching at Florida and Dwayne Schintzius quit the team "he's gone off to find himself and he's going to be mighty disappointed when he does."

gatorhator4eva writes:

in response to Razzle:

A feeling I have...

Tennessee 21 Florida 10.

a little too early to be calling this one. although i think tennessee will have the advantage. muschamp is basically in the same predictamint as dooley was a year ago.

BigOrangeSlim writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know one might agree, however, Coach Dooley has proven one thing. He is able to recruit. Winning will only help that effort. I truly hope he is the man will all my heart. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word and a great representative of our institution. If he can keep top line assistants and his team together a couple of years the future of Big Orange Football will look very bright!

orangeman1 writes:

I do think Dooley is a man of integrity and he will discipline the way most coaches discipline. He may be stricter than Kiffin, but his discipline style so far reminds me of Fulmer, but I think Fulmer didnt put as much emphasis on character of the recruit as it looks like Dooley will. Recruiting good character players is a start, but we'll have to wait and see how it turns out. He said it himself that all schools are always going to have players getting into trouble. I just hope the off the field incidents can be reduced from this past year.

DenverVol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This.

Go VOLS!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor pretty sure "feelin'" the reason you aint allowed at middle school games.
Bones never lie.

ChrisUTvol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

very well put.

gillblog writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

Very well put, sir. I believe that too many times some of us revel in the fact that an opposing team is having disciplinary problems, and we forget that these are young men and women (no matter what school they attend) who need guidance and mentoring to help them become the kind of citizens who can be productive members of society. We all need to remember that football, basketball, or whatever sport they play is just a game, and will not be the legacy most of them leave. The legacy most of them will leave when all's said and done is: "What kind of person have I become, what do I do for the betterment of my fellow man, and have I done everything within my power to make sure my family is taken care of?" Don't think we can ask for any more if the answers to those three things are positive.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

There is an elephant in the room of your very laudable sentiments; money. There is so much money running through big time college athletics that even the most stable, well-adjusted young people (AND there parents !) easily loose their perspective on what it means to be successful in life. With all the money comes the self-delusion of entitlement and immunity from the behavioral constraints of normal society. Amateurism is an oxymoron in the world of college athletics today, and I frankly do not see the sincere efforts of decent-minded people like CDD as anything more than handwaving in the middle of the hurricane of big money sports.

writer#358485 writes:

in response to jecusitnet:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...and that attitude is what is wrong with college football today.

TKO writes:

in response to dwa7#337691:

early predict:

UT 41
Montana Grizzly Bears 17

I know it is early, but Montana will have a veteran squad that can play. Don't be surprise if they make a game out of this.

phippo1956#453504 writes:

in response to InDestruCtible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

like who did ol will and texass stop at anything last year. and if it was so good in texas why did he leave, he damn near took a paycut to go to fla and have to change everything, if he has a good season he should get coach of the year, but i believe he will regret weise, the sec is unlike any other conference in the country. so year 1 is gonna be tough. getting beat up by vandy will put them in shock as we all know vandy gives you all they have, win ,lose, or draw.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor pretty sure "feelin'" the reason you aint allowed at middle school games.
Bones never lie.

HILARIOUS!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

HILARIOUS!!!

Huttdog and Vol fans,

Remember.......simply put, trolls such as the copycat/imposter........Witch doctors daddy......are weaklings. Those who copy another's screen name are extremely lacking with a self image.

Of course, the troll thing goes without saying. We have an opinion as to why trolls hang out here so much but let's just leave it at that and know who they are. ( WDD, SEC1, Cantstandhimself, Merlot, the ones from the litter box, etc. ) Just to name a few.
These guys/gals have serious issues.

kantanuuv writes:

When I read the title of this article I thought it would be about game readiness. Actually it's about how the number of armed robberies, cop beatings, and drug arrests by Vole players are slightly down from last year.

At least you're remotely competitive with Florida in something.

What a job CVDjr has done. Now if we could just get him to blink occasionally.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Biggestmanoncampus,

No, they won't leave. What else would they do? The WDD and another troll I forgot, the
"Precious" troll don't have enough intelligence to find their way out of the rain.
In fact, IMO they are bandwagon people and something about Tennessee, ( win or lose )
intrigues them. Could be the envy thing, could be something U T did to them.........caught them for cheating and kicked them out, who knows?

We just know there are good people here and there are these clowns.

OwensboroVol writes:

These coaches, and I mean all of them from Dooley to Meyer to Saban and so on, have my utter respect in dealing with these kids. These kids are competitors, which usually means type A personalities and full speed ahead. Add to these, the fact that many grew up in poor households and in terrible neighborhoods and you have a recipe for trouble. Some will get down on me on saying this, but, in my opinion it is a miracle that there is not many more problems than there are.

FatherVol writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Making assumptions, are we? <VBG>

gluesniffer writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

then why are you here?

everydayisorange writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No you wont! You and the rest of the trolls will ALWAYS FIND SOMETHING TO COMMENT ABOUT! Most of the people that come to this site doesn't go onto opposing team's web site, and do you know why? We are not obsessed with your team, nor do we care what happens except WHEN WE PLAY YOUR TEAM! Get a life, a job, or out of our state, we don't want you here or on the site. Don't give me that BS about it being a newspaper site, it is called GOVOLSXTRA for a reason!

VolGrad writes:

"Light years ahead of last year...."

Does that statement conform to the laws of physics?

djohnnyg writes:

in response to TennVol01:

If we are "Light years ahead" this year .... we should win maybe 8 games? Maybe, just maybe, we can beat a down and out Florida.

The only way UT beats Florida is if it's some big, shocking upset. That's how wide the gap is between these programs. UT will beat them someday I think but they are just so far ahead now, and are built to stay that way for at least ten or so years.

Even a "down and out" Fla. team will easily dominate UT because the huge disparity in talent. We can pray for an upset I guess.

Used to not be this way, but everyone was in such a big ole hurry to dump Fulmer, but by dumping him UT screwed themselves for years to come. Fulmer brought class AND great recruits, not to mention a National Championship that UT won't even come close to sniffing for gosh knows how long.

Fulmer didn't need to go. All UT needed were better assistants to work with the recruits Fulmer brought in. UT could've kept Fulmer as a figurehead showing stability and an SEC image nearing legendary status.

I wanted Fulmer gone. I admit it. I was wrong. I wanted a short term fix and all it did was ruin a once proud program to the status comparable to a MAC team.

djohnnyg writes:

in response to FatherVol:

Making assumptions, are we? <VBG>

Interesting that some will evoke the tradition of UT football as a reason they can compete with the Fla's, Alabama's, LSU's, Georgia's, and Auburn's of the world, but at the same time slam anyone who dares speak of the folly of firing Fulmer as "living in the past". The "past" IS the basis of UT's tradition in the first place and Coach Fulmer didn't win all the time, but he engineered a seven year stretch of dominating Alabama and did at least beat Florida once in a while; something no Vol coach has done yet and we are still aways away from doing so again.

I know. He's not coming back, but how long does UT stick with the guy who brought down the whole program in very short order? Yes, i'm talking about Hamilton.

Pompey writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...what kind of name is Janoris...is he an American?

lakesidegator writes:

in response to NachoDaddy_76:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Look who's calling anybody Jethro. You are a hillbilly who is so obvious, it makes the rest of us roll our eyes at your "moron-ness."

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