Mike Strange: UT is finer to not be Carolina

Mike Strange

I'm wondering if beleaguered Tennessee fans can find any solace in someone else's misery.

"Hey," Sam from Seymour might say to Roger from Rockwood, "at least we're not North Carolina.''

It wasn't the best of weeks at Tennessee. The athletic director search had to quietly scuttle another potential press conference when Joe Alleva elected to stay at LSU.

It was, however, a worse week in Chapel Hill. Who knew Butch Davis' final win at Carolina would be against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl?

Days after sending Davis to Atlantic Coast Con

ference Media Days to yak about the coming football season, the chancellor fired him, saying he must avoid further tarnishing to the university's reputation.

North Carolina's timing is even more perplexing — and that's a diplomatic choice of words — than UT's was with basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

In each case, the administration appeared hellbent on sticking with a winning coach whose program was charged with major NCAA infractions. At least in Pearl's case, UT reversed field in March, not mid-October.

And, like the Vols, the Tar Heels must eventually get around to hiring a new AD. Dick Baddour announced his resignation, to take effect some time after the school goes before the Committee on Infractions in October.

Presumably, Baddour won't be a candidate for Tennessee's AD job, open since Mike Hamilton stepped aside nearly two months ago.

UT appeared to have already found Hamilton's successor. Twice.

Dan Radakovich of Georgia Tech suddenly fell out of favor when details of Tech's own NCAA problems were aired.

Alleva, Plan B, was believed to be a physical exam away from taking the UT job, but backed out upon discovering his blood ran purple and gold.

UT has acknowledged no interest or offers to either. It has acknowledged only that it prefers a sitting AD, as opposed to a retired coach or a captain of industry.

So, what's Plan C, Vol fans are wondering? The prediction here is that it will be a while before we find out.

Nothing is terribly pressing. All the key coaching hires have been made. Joan Cronan is capable of holding down the fort.

After the Alleva scenario, I doubt UT will rush into the prickly task of wooing another candidate from a big-time school. If you're a sitting AD at a major program, chances are that seat is well padded, covered in the finest leather and too comfortable to abandon without a compelling reason.

Tennessee has pursued relatively big fish twice. Nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn't discourage consideration of lesser names.

Take the time to check out Steve Orsini at SMU, for one, and tell me what's not to like.

While we're considering all options, here's a candidate for you:

After watching him operate for 18 months, there's an in-house guy who would be up to the task — Derek Dooley.

He was even a sitting AD at Louisiana Tech when UT hired him to coach football. But coaching in the SEC and administering a $100 million department is unrealistic, even for a guy as bright and organized as Dooley.

Frankly, coaching football is the more important of the two jobs.

So Tennessee should pursue Plan C, whomever that might be, and Dooley should stick with football. That's especially true now that the program has regained continuity on his watch.

On that note, good thing North Carolina's not his dream job.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 23

imw8n4u writes:

Why even mention Dooley for AD then immediate say he's more important as the football coach?

CroKev writes:

Dooley should and will stick with fb.

bigorange61 writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In 1977, we got a proven, national championship coach. It took him five seasons to have a decent record at Tennessee, and nine seasons to win the SEC. I'm just trying to show that getting the kind of coach you talk about doesn't guarantee overnight success.

Let's don't expect Dooley to get things done overnight. At least give the guy a chance instead of proclaiming him dead on arrival.

dvhill100 writes:

Too bad JC is going to retire. She would be an excellent AD for the school. Strange is right, there isn't any hurry to hire a new one except to work with JC's schedule. Let things settle down, see what size of hammer the NCAA hits us with, then make the hire.

bigorange61 writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Any coach at LA Tech is on average going to lose more than they win. They usually get Louisiana players that SEC schools pass on. Then they schedule games in which they have no chance of winning. 2009 they had Auburn, LSU, Navy, and Boise State. Of course they had to play Boise State. They are 0-4 before the season even started. They agree to be whipping boys for tune up games for SEC schools. Must do it for the money. They had a little easier schedule in 2008, and it showed. They went to a bowl game and won against Northern Illinois. One thing worth noting is Tennessee almost lost to Northern Illinois that year.

Maybe no one cried at LA Tech when they lost the football coach. If so, maybe it's because it doesn't matter. I had no idea who Dooley was when he was hired, so I researched him like alot of Vol fans. I remember seeing plenty of Louisiana bloggers saying they were hoping LSU would have canned Miles and hired Dooley. Of course since Tennessee hired him, you guys didn't need him anyway. That's how it goes right?

As you point out, some SEC schools have fertile recruiting bases which puts Tennessee at a disadvantage to start with. Add to that the coaching changes and NCAA trouble, and we are clearly behind the eight ball.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

I live in Raleigh. I was mad when we chickened out of the UNC series and still mad now. After UNC canning Butch this past week, I wish all-the-more that we could still play UNC this year.

I mean, is an away game against UNC really worth cancelling for a home game against Buffalo when you historically recruit kids from the state of North Carolina? Dropping the UNC series will hurt our program more in the long-run than the extra cash we're going to get by playing Buffalo this year (that's assuming we even make any money with what will likely be a low turnout).

Bad, bad decision by UT.

Snapshot writes:

in response to Papermate_Chinese_Bandit:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"As Dooley struggles with this 2012 class",it is only July dude. After the results of his first class I would say they are recruiting just fine. Don't know where you get the idea he is "struggling", guess I will just consider the source.

Geaux Big Orange

SummittsCourt writes:

just hire Joan now!

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

I just hope Tennessee can make it to a bowl this year and actually WIN a bowl game even if it is the Birmingham Bowl

not_guilty writes:

What a pity that Vince Dooley is not 25 years younger. He would be a great AD.

Docrok writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I live in Raleigh. I was mad when we chickened out of the UNC series and still mad now. After UNC canning Butch this past week, I wish all-the-more that we could still play UNC this year.

I mean, is an away game against UNC really worth cancelling for a home game against Buffalo when you historically recruit kids from the state of North Carolina? Dropping the UNC series will hurt our program more in the long-run than the extra cash we're going to get by playing Buffalo this year (that's assuming we even make any money with what will likely be a low turnout).

Bad, bad decision by UT.

I totally agreed with this position till I saw the schedule for this season and realized that TN plays in consecutive weeks, GA, LSU, AL (away), and SC. Theses are consecutive games and all of which follow Buffalo (home) or would be (away) NC game. Keep in mind TN still plays FL and ARK this season away. Thats at least 3 top 10 teams, possibly the number one team on more than one occasion depending on who wins between ARK, LSU, and AL. So a lower tier Div I FBS school at home is probably wiser than another away game in a year in which your team is young and plays most of its toughest opponents away. Does it look bad. YES! But I don't think Dooley is shying away from competition since he simply asked to re-schedule the game at a later date, to which NC declined because they did not wish to meet TN at a more stable time for the program! AL did this with Penn State when Saban first arrived there and Penn State gladly agreed which is why we got to see that game in which AL was far better than when Saban first arrived!

Docrok writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with you Naval, I think Dooley knows exactly what he is doing and is a very good coach with a good plan! In one year look at the Offensive line, Head and Shoulders above anything since 2001 or 2002! Our O-lines have been declining since then and it has shown in the run game! I look forward to this recruiting season because he is focused on DT's and LB's and Wilcox and Dooley both prefer much larger LB's! THANK GOD! But back to the point I truly believe that not only is Dooley a good coach but our assistants are outstanding! That Terry Joseph is an outstanding recruiter and I believe TN is gonna have to give him a raise next season to keep him! Our assistants are top notch another indication that Dooley knows what he is doing.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

I live in Raleigh. I was mad when we chickened out of the UNC series and still mad now. After UNC canning Butch this past week, I wish all-the-more that we could still play UNC this year.

I mean, is an away game against UNC really worth cancelling for a home game against Buffalo when you historically recruit kids from the state of North Carolina? Dropping the UNC series will hurt our program more in the long-run than the extra cash we're going to get by playing Buffalo this year (that's assuming we even make any money with what will likely be a low turnout).

Bad, bad decision by UT.

My sentiments, exactly! I am a transplanted Vol living in Greensboro and, like you no doubt, have gotten a bellyful of grief from UNC fans. Funny, though; I haven't heard a great deal from them in the last few days.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Docrok:

I totally agreed with this position till I saw the schedule for this season and realized that TN plays in consecutive weeks, GA, LSU, AL (away), and SC. Theses are consecutive games and all of which follow Buffalo (home) or would be (away) NC game. Keep in mind TN still plays FL and ARK this season away. Thats at least 3 top 10 teams, possibly the number one team on more than one occasion depending on who wins between ARK, LSU, and AL. So a lower tier Div I FBS school at home is probably wiser than another away game in a year in which your team is young and plays most of its toughest opponents away. Does it look bad. YES! But I don't think Dooley is shying away from competition since he simply asked to re-schedule the game at a later date, to which NC declined because they did not wish to meet TN at a more stable time for the program! AL did this with Penn State when Saban first arrived there and Penn State gladly agreed which is why we got to see that game in which AL was far better than when Saban first arrived!

Though I agreed with BViC, you make some valid points as well. I'm afraid it is pretty much out of our hands, whichever way we lean on this issue.

NickDanger-ThirdEye writes:

in response to Docrok:

I agree with you Naval, I think Dooley knows exactly what he is doing and is a very good coach with a good plan! In one year look at the Offensive line, Head and Shoulders above anything since 2001 or 2002! Our O-lines have been declining since then and it has shown in the run game! I look forward to this recruiting season because he is focused on DT's and LB's and Wilcox and Dooley both prefer much larger LB's! THANK GOD! But back to the point I truly believe that not only is Dooley a good coach but our assistants are outstanding! That Terry Joseph is an outstanding recruiter and I believe TN is gonna have to give him a raise next season to keep him! Our assistants are top notch another indication that Dooley knows what he is doing.

on point in both posts Doc. I am upbeat on all of the commits so far and do expect more DTs and LBs as the year goes on. BTW is the Media Guide in the stores yet?

Docrok writes:

in response to NickDanger-ThirdEye:

on point in both posts Doc. I am upbeat on all of the commits so far and do expect more DTs and LBs as the year goes on. BTW is the Media Guide in the stores yet?

Nick I have seen the Vols annual magazine but not the SEC media guide however there is an Adams article on it and the cover so I have to assume that it probably is out in stores also

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say kudos Headline writer...nice.
Bones never lie.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to imw8n4u:

Why even mention Dooley for AD then immediate say he's more important as the football coach?

Mike has been attending the John Adam's School of Writing Random Thoughts.

bigsteve92 writes:

hahaha low blow with unc not a dream job

arkyvol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

In 1977, we got a proven, national championship coach. It took him five seasons to have a decent record at Tennessee, and nine seasons to win the SEC. I'm just trying to show that getting the kind of coach you talk about doesn't guarantee overnight success.

Let's don't expect Dooley to get things done overnight. At least give the guy a chance instead of proclaiming him dead on arrival.

that 1977 coach we got brought a couple of grand ole u.t. traditions with him: bowden's firewater problem and an acceptance of mediocrity. his sense of entitlement came to be shared by his successor. i can't recall one season that 77 coach produced that was remotely satisfying. he did bring aboard some incredible athletes, but never seemed to get spit out of them.

PUL4VOLS writes:

in response to bigorange61:

Any coach at LA Tech is on average going to lose more than they win. They usually get Louisiana players that SEC schools pass on. Then they schedule games in which they have no chance of winning. 2009 they had Auburn, LSU, Navy, and Boise State. Of course they had to play Boise State. They are 0-4 before the season even started. They agree to be whipping boys for tune up games for SEC schools. Must do it for the money. They had a little easier schedule in 2008, and it showed. They went to a bowl game and won against Northern Illinois. One thing worth noting is Tennessee almost lost to Northern Illinois that year.

Maybe no one cried at LA Tech when they lost the football coach. If so, maybe it's because it doesn't matter. I had no idea who Dooley was when he was hired, so I researched him like alot of Vol fans. I remember seeing plenty of Louisiana bloggers saying they were hoping LSU would have canned Miles and hired Dooley. Of course since Tennessee hired him, you guys didn't need him anyway. That's how it goes right?

As you point out, some SEC schools have fertile recruiting bases which puts Tennessee at a disadvantage to start with. Add to that the coaching changes and NCAA trouble, and we are clearly behind the eight ball.

Well bigorange61, I am so glad your expert assessment of head coaches proves we made a big mistake. You needed to have been on the search committee to tell us LA Tech coaches always lose more than they win. Darn it, we have now wasted our UT football program. Why is that? Is it because bigorange61 was not on the search team? No indeed, if it should happen to end up being the deal, I doubt it will be, it is because no one wanted to work with the former AD and uncertainties of what would result from the former head coach. Dooley will be fine.

johnlg00 writes:

Geez, guys! As if there were a particle's worth of difference between a #10-ranked class and a #20-ranked class! The fact is that Dooley's ONE-AND-ONE-HALF classes show that most of the players he has gotten so far should, by any objective criteria, be able to play and compete in the SEC. I will further make the not-so-bold prediction that these are probably the "worst" classes he will EVER recruit here. High-level recruits are already at least listening to his pitch. If the team shows improvement this season, as it very well should, and if the NCAA doesn't hit us too hard, Dooley's recruiting will pick up considerably. But splitting hairs on something as subjective as recruiting-service rankings of signing classes is right up there with debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, IMHO.

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Geez, guys! As if there were a particle's worth of difference between a #10-ranked class and a #20-ranked class! The fact is that Dooley's ONE-AND-ONE-HALF classes show that most of the players he has gotten so far should, by any objective criteria, be able to play and compete in the SEC. I will further make the not-so-bold prediction that these are probably the "worst" classes he will EVER recruit here. High-level recruits are already at least listening to his pitch. If the team shows improvement this season, as it very well should, and if the NCAA doesn't hit us too hard, Dooley's recruiting will pick up considerably. But splitting hairs on something as subjective as recruiting-service rankings of signing classes is right up there with debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, IMHO.

Good post johnlg. We had a great (on paper) recruiting class in 05'. And where'd they go?

Recruiting is not an exact science but a best guess. I think CDD's a good guesser.

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