John Adams: Fashion statement speaks well of Derek Dooley

John Adams
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, Thursday, July 21, 2011,  in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Photo by Dave Martin

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, Thursday, July 21, 2011, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

HOOVER, Ala. — Team Tennessee rarely has looked so in sync in the off-season. In fact, its attire for SEC Football Media Days was almost as uniform as on game day.

The three seniors — Tauren Poole, Malik Jackson and Dallas Thomas — weren't just dressed like each other. They were dressed like their head coach: black suit, orange tie and a Power T on the lapel.

Thursday's dress might have appeared orchestrated, if not mandated. But this display of team unity actually was achieved independently.

Thomas laughed with surprise when told during a News Sentinel Sports Page radio interview that he was dressed no differently from head coach Derek Dooley. He laughed again when the coach — dressed almost identically — took his place at the microphone.

"I guess Coach Dooley is influencing us," Thomas said later.

The influence qualifies as progress for a team handed down from one coach to another for three consecutive years.

Dooley's hands-on approach to college football doesn't extend to dressing his players in similar fashion. Yet he expects adherence to certain standards when they represent the program.

"He wants us to be professional, to carry ourselves with pride," Thomas said.

For their media-day plunge, the threesome dressed as professionally as corporate executives.

That doesn't mean the team will win the SEC East or even win more games than the six it did in Dooley's first season at UT. It does mean the players are no longer stumbling around in the dark, learning on the run what's expected from their latest leader. There's continuity as well as comfort with a program that has had little of either for several years.

"We know what Coach Dooley wants," Thomas said.

Consider that a small step forward. But, as Dooley would emphasize, don't trivialize the significance of small steps.

"I believe everything matters," Dooley said. "The failure of a program is never because of just one thing. It's a cumulative effect of little things and bad decisions."

It's hardly a revolutionary concept, but Dooley can articulate it with conviction and without the preachy intonation of someone who has climbed onto a platform high above his audience.

He hasn't changed from his first SEC media venture. The perception of him has changed.

He's no longer known so much as the coach who got the Tennessee job despite a losing record at Louisiana Tech. He's known as the most articulate coach in the league, as reconfirmed by his most recent turn at the podium.

UT and non-UT fans alike seem to like the guy. A common assessment — one that I've heard several times in the last two days from a Tennessee fan, an Auburn fan and a media-type — goes something like this: "I think he's really a sharp guy. I hope they give him enough time."

The obvious question hanging over the program: How much time will it take to turn the Vols from also-rans into contenders?

Dooley can't answer that. How could he? This isn't just about UT. It's about the competition.

"It's a tough neighborhood," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "Every school in this conference is committed to improving their football program."

More improvement will be necessary in training camp when the Vols come together as a team and take the next step toward rebuilding their program. They could only talk about improvement at media days.

But they at least looked like a team while they were doing it.

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 » 29

OrangePride writes:

CDD did look great! He had command of the message and he is a really fine ambassador of the University of Tennessee. And as JA points out in his article, his style and leadership has dramatically influenced this team. It is only a matter of time before all this ground work begins to pay off and make its appearance on the field...the first hints of which will be in just a matter of weeks. GO VOLS!!

pingkr62 writes:

Whenever I hear an interview,or read an article about C.D.D. the more I like and admire the man. I'm convinced he will make our football program one that we can all be extremely proud of. He exudes class and integrity. Maybe one day there will be a statue of him next to the one of Gen Neyland. G.B.O.

flatrock writes:

Derek Dooley is the right guy at the exactly right time.

Brillovol writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You ain't kiddin. There's something to be said for team unity, but I didn't expect a fashion article in the sports section.

UofTNVol writes:

This was actually new information to me, which I rarely get here. I thought it was an interesting article and about fell out of my chair whan I realized Adams wrote it.

Classof72 writes:

Thanks, Vince and Barbara! We have every reason to hope and believe we have a coach we can all be proud of for a very long time. If we're patient, we may even win some games, someday.

UofTNVol writes:

If you saw the video of their interviews then you would understand where the guy was coming from, for a change. GBO

miatatom writes:

As CDD has said, it's about changing the culture. This is a great example of how he's getting it done. GBO and CDD!!!!!

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

"We know what Coach Dooley wants. He wants us to be professional and carry ourselves with pride". "I believe everything matters", Dooley said. Things are headed where we all want them to. It's a great time to be a Tennessee Vol.

hueypilot writes:

Great journeys begin with small steps.

huckabee writes:

Who hired this guy? ;)

VOLFTBL writes:

I love a coach who garners the respect of his team and the SEC!

voloffaith writes:

in response to huckabee:

Who hired this guy? ;)

The soon departed TARGET of the disgruntled masses in BOC. A house built on a "solid' foundation is in a better position to weather the storms than the one built on "sinking sand." THe coach is taking those mainly small steps to get "the Culture" right.
The tough point being that in today's serve me right now mindset Coach Dooley has to perform quicker because the huddled masses aren't usually very patient about much of anything.

VOLinATL writes:

It's good to have a winning team, but it's so much better when you can respect the leader.

Volunatic writes:

in response to voloffaith:

The soon departed TARGET of the disgruntled masses in BOC. A house built on a "solid' foundation is in a better position to weather the storms than the one built on "sinking sand." THe coach is taking those mainly small steps to get "the Culture" right.
The tough point being that in today's serve me right now mindset Coach Dooley has to perform quicker because the huddled masses aren't usually very patient about much of anything.

Very good post, but what is BOC---
Blue Oyster Cult?
Bank of Canada?
Bulgarian Olympic Committee?
British Ornithologists Club?
Bell Operating Company?
Battle of Chancellorsville?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Very good post, but what is BOC---
Blue Oyster Cult?
Bank of Canada?
Bulgarian Olympic Committee?
British Ornithologists Club?
Bell Operating Company?
Battle of Chancellorsville?

Anyone with your screen name should know, or be able to deduce in context, that BOC stands for BIG ORANGE COUNTRY. But maybe you were joking. Or maybe you are a troll disguising yourself in figurative Vol colors.

johnlg00 writes:

On topic, CDD's public persona is ever so much more appealing than ex-CLK's shambling, mumbling, under-dressed demeanor. I confess I drank the LK koolaid at least at first simply because he was the coach of my team. CDD seems to be the kind of man anyone, Vol fan or not, can respect and not have to apologize for doing so.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Very good post, but what is BOC---
Blue Oyster Cult?
Bank of Canada?
Bulgarian Olympic Committee?
British Ornithologists Club?
Bell Operating Company?
Battle of Chancellorsville?

Apologies, volunatic, for my somewhat snarky answer to your post. Having seen a fair number of them, I know that you are a loyal Vol fan. It just threw me a little that a Vol fan didn't know or at least guess that BOC might stand for Big Orange Country, but I will just chalk that up to a momentary brain-f**t, of which we all have our fair share from time to time.

dvol writes:

Dooley can handle a news conference. He seems to be a great speaker and very smart. I'm goind to throw this out there and see where it goes. I like Dooley but, I don't think he can win at Tennessee. But, I do think he would make a great A.D. Lets hire him and let him find us a coach. He has all the tools to be a great A.D.

manoffewwords writes:

in response to dvol:

Dooley can handle a news conference. He seems to be a great speaker and very smart. I'm goind to throw this out there and see where it goes. I like Dooley but, I don't think he can win at Tennessee. But, I do think he would make a great A.D. Lets hire him and let him find us a coach. He has all the tools to be a great A.D.

Agree with everything except the can't win. Please tell us why he can't win.

Volunatic writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Apologies, volunatic, for my somewhat snarky answer to your post. Having seen a fair number of them, I know that you are a loyal Vol fan. It just threw me a little that a Vol fan didn't know or at least guess that BOC might stand for Big Orange Country, but I will just chalk that up to a momentary brain-f**t, of which we all have our fair share from time to time.

No worries. But I probably need to switch away from that dadgum decaf.
GO VOLS!!!

snoopbob87 writes:

Matching suits and ties! I feel better about the football season. Reasonable to think we will see the team in matching uni's.

I have a bad feeling about the Vols not being able to compete in the SEC. One reason being lack of size, speed and talent. 2nd reason, too many players willing to coast after we see the other team get ahead.

Pompey writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

....no wonder UT fans are shown so little respect......

pammyvol1000 writes:

I'll go so far as to say he's HOT! yep, I said it.
and ...his wife is beautiful too!!

Bufforange00 writes:

Best hair in the league, hands down

LJS1984 writes:

THIS IS GOOD! THEY ALL SHOULD WEAR THE SAME SUITS. This will hopefully be carried over to the Vol Walk and the team pictures on the UTSPORTS.COM website. If you watch Alabama, Auburn, UGA, etc. when they show their starting lineup on television they all have on the same suit. In the past few years Tennessee hasn't even had on suits at all, just uniforms with bulky shoulder pads in the lineup pictures. Suits show a whole lot more class and I'm pretty sure this is where Dooley is going with this.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

in response to Unfrozen_Caveman_Volfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No he just misses his buttbuddy kitten,thats lame kitten

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

No worries. But I probably need to switch away from that dadgum decaf.
GO VOLS!!!

Thanks for not taking offense. Goodness knows, we have enough trolls on here trying to spread hate and discord that we don't need Vol fans picking on each other. As a caffeine addict myself, I must say that a little too MUCH of it can cause people to jump too quickly to false conclusions(;-D)!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to snoopbob87:

Matching suits and ties! I feel better about the football season. Reasonable to think we will see the team in matching uni's.

I have a bad feeling about the Vols not being able to compete in the SEC. One reason being lack of size, speed and talent. 2nd reason, too many players willing to coast after we see the other team get ahead.

Maybe the thin teams of the last couple of years got worn down trying to stay even in the early going and just didn't have the energy or the numbers to make an effort to recover when behind. I don't see that as a character defect so much as just a thing that happens to an out-manned team that hasn't yet established a tradition of coming from behind when necessary.

Can't say just how much better this year's team will be in those situations when they arise, but surely the extra experience of the young guys who were thrown into the fire early last year along with greater familiarity of the players and coaches with each other will result in SOME improvement in that area.

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