There were hours of interviews last week at SEC Media Days.
From there, Derek Dooley went straight to an event with fans in Nashville to share even more thoughts on his Tennessee team.
Then there was the second appearance in a little more than a month for the Vols coach on the campus of ESPN when Dooley flew up on Monday to Bristol, Conn., which was followed up with another engagement back in Knoxville on Tuesday.
Dooley didn’t appear to be showing any signs of fatigue when he spoke to the Rotary Club at the Marriott, despite his grueling travel schedule lately and the fact that he’s closing in on 50 appearances on the speaking circuit this summer. But he did make clear he’s ready to step away from podiums for a while and get back on a practice field.
“I’m excited to go play,” Dooley joked. “Then I won’t have to talk about playing anymore.
“I can get back to coaching again.”
That day is fast approaching with the Vols set to report for fall camp on Monday, and an audience that had about 30 minutes to pepper Dooley with questions seemed just as excited for his second season to kick off as he did. Dooley uncharacteristically declined interview requests from local media members, though the Rotary Club took full advantage of its chance to grill him.
The questions covered all aspects of the program, from the offense to recruiting and even the schedule, which Dooley indicated would “always include a I-AA opponent” and he won’t apologize for it given the difficulty of an SEC slate.
The only topic that didn’t really draw a response came when he was asked about the status of linebacker Austin Johnson after his arrest on Sunday morning for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, which Dooley said he wasn’t ready to address until his investigation into the matter was complete.
He didn’t mention when that would be, though he’s aware it will be brought up again.
There’s one more major press conference to go before he gets to coach a practice, then he can get back to business. On the way out the door, he offered a reminder to the media how close that day is.
“See you Monday,” Dooley said.
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