What if UT football went from Fulmer to Dooley?

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin speaks to a crowd of reporters Jan. 12, 2010, to announce his resignation. Kiffin is returned to Southern California as the Trojans' coach after just one season at Tennessee.

Photo by J. Miles Cary

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin speaks to a crowd of reporters Jan. 12, 2010, to announce his resignation. Kiffin is returned to Southern California as the Trojans' coach after just one season at Tennessee.

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.

Take the brief Lane Kiffin Era out of Tennessee's recent history and replace it with an extra year of Derek Dooley.

It can be reasonably assumed the past two years wouldn't have included a breakfast after National Signing Day spiced up by allegations of cheating by a rival.

There might not have ever been the need to rent a helicopter to fly around Georgia on the recruiting trail.

And there's a chance the NCAA investigators still poking at Kiffin as UT heads for its June date with the Committee on Infractions might not be so worried about the football program.

But the real issue that might be different for Dooley if he was preparing for his third season instead of his second really has nothing to do with his specific predecessor - just as long as it wasn't Phillip Fulmer.

"I think the first thing, about 14 players left when Lane came in," Dooley said in an interview last month. "Now, there would be some attrition regardless, but it's hard to measure. Would there have been 14? I don't know. Lane and I have very different styles. But then when I came in there was another bulk of attrition.

"So there were a lot of players that left that wouldn't have left, I think we can agree on that - maybe we would have had 10 or 12 more players. Then on top of that, we had two transitions in recruiting, coaches in recruiting areas, having a good feel for who the juniors are, and so we went from two to one. Yeah, it made a difference, and it wasn't because of who the coach was. It was just the fact you had another change on top of a change that set you back considerably."

I think the first thing, about 14 players left when Lane (Kiffin) came in. Now, there would be some attrition regardless, but it's hard to measure. Would there have been 14? I don't know. Lane and I have very different styles. But then when I came in there was another bulk of attrition.

Derek Dooley

In the same way the identity of the coach might not have made a difference, it's a similar story with the players who are no longer a part of the program.

It's not the loss of well-known names like Aaron Douglas, Bryce Brown or Lennon Creer that have forced the Vols to scramble to rebuild depth, it's the sheer volume of bodies that disappeared. The current roster includes 15 seniors, but only seven of them were listed on UT's post-spring depth chart. Of those seven, Malik Jackson and Matt Simms transferred to the program last year, and three others - Austin Johnson, Anthony Anderson and Daryl Vereen - have combined to make a total of two career starts.

And driving home the point about the veteran talent Dooley inherited was the NFL draft last weekend, an event typically stocked with Vols but one that featured just a fourth-round pick and a fifth-rounder this year.

"I think Dooley would be making better progress because he'd have his guys in here," senior running back Tauren Poole said last week. "He'd be two years in if it went from Fulmer to Dooley, actually going into his third, so he probably would have built his foundation, he'd have his players in here and be building guys up, have his philosophy established into the program.

"Guys would buy in and as you'd see, most SEC coaches need a year or two to be successful."

Despite several coaches in the league turning two years into a title, most recently Auburn's Gene Chizik, the situation at UT doesn't appear to be setting up for a run at a championship this fall.

It's impossible to know what the results would be if Dooley had gone from a bowl run after two seasons at Louisiana Tech straight to a job with the Vols - taking the torch directly from Fulmer instead of second-hand from Kiffin. But at least if there hadn't been an extra set of hands on it, the UT roster might include some extra bodies.

"I'm seeing now that everybody has success in Year Two, and guess what, I had it at Louisiana Tech my second year," Dooley said. "There's a lot of truth to that, but there has to be some foundation of something when you get there.

"I think people generally have a feel that it has been difficult, but you would never really understand it until you shadow me day to day. All I can say is, I don't believe there's ever been a coach walk into a program of this magnitude under the circumstances that we did last year."

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 » 82

volunteermailman writes:

actually we did. unfortunately we had a kid coaching in 2009 until karma happened

ChrisUTvol writes:

I like this Guy.Oh yea FIRST!!!!!

iowavol writes:

Couldn't agree more with Dooley. Hamilton has set this program back a long way. Thanks Hamilton. I can't believe you haven't resigned yet. Clearly, you care nothing about the UT.

ChrisUTvol writes:

in response to ChrisUTvol:

I like this Guy.Oh yea FIRST!!!!!

NOT FIRST

huntined#565710 writes:

No we needed KIFF to bring some excitement to our dead program,,,We were in the news everyday some good some bad but he had a good time with Slive. I think Slive hit Pearl because of KIFF. As KIFF just didn't pay any attention to him at all.

taylorsvolfan writes:

Should have stuck with CPF. Just my opinion. Go Vols !

OrangePride writes:

As was stated by Coach Dooley some time ago, we really started at a year zero. So, to my mind, next year will be year 2, not this one. That will be the better yardstick on which to base some kind of comparative. Neither Chizik or Saban took over a program in the kind of disarray that was here when Dooley arrived. All I can say is that the Kiffin year resulted in a total disaster for the overall program...in talent, UT's reputation, and NCAA involvement. Dooley may take a little longer to get this program where we all want it, but from what I can see, he's doing it the right way and I, for one, will exercise a little patience this year. Other than that.....GO VOLS!! Can't wait for FOOOTBAAALLLLL TAHME IN TENNESSEEEE!!!

TennesseeTuxedo writes:

Stop the blaming of Lane Kiffin for the state of the UT football program. That fault clearly lies with Phil Fulmer, who took the program into a nose-dive and crashed it straight into the ground. That was not Kiffin's nor Hamilton's fault. Thank Fulmer and the good ole boy cronies that surrounded him and the UT program.

OrangePride writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

No we needed KIFF to bring some excitement to our dead program,,,We were in the news everyday some good some bad but he had a good time with Slive. I think Slive hit Pearl because of KIFF. As KIFF just didn't pay any attention to him at all.

I agree, Kiffin brought a great deal of excitement and energy to a very lethargic situation.......BUT, he did so at a very huge cost! Too high a cost in my opinion.

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

No we needed KIFF to bring some excitement to our dead program,,,We were in the news everyday some good some bad but he had a good time with Slive. I think Slive hit Pearl because of KIFF. As KIFF just didn't pay any attention to him at all.

What were the good things we got on TV for when he was coach?

OrangePride writes:

in response to TennesseeTuxedo:

Stop the blaming of Lane Kiffin for the state of the UT football program. That fault clearly lies with Phil Fulmer, who took the program into a nose-dive and crashed it straight into the ground. That was not Kiffin's nor Hamilton's fault. Thank Fulmer and the good ole boy cronies that surrounded him and the UT program.

Using your metaphore....Fulmer's plane may have been losing altitude, BUT it was indeed Kiffin who totally crashed it into the ground. So yes...Kiffin get's plenty of well deserved blame.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

It's all water under the bridge at this point. I just look forward to this upcoming football season and an improvement in the team. A young and talented O-line that is stronger so the run game improves. Young receivers who understand how to run routes better so the passing game improves. Some JUCO players to come in and improve the defense. GBO!!!!! Looking forward to the first game this season. I can't wait.

RoadTrip writes:

You can tell the doldrums have started. What a fluff piece.

SummittsCourt writes:

The fact that hammy was going to hire Dooley before he hired weasel boy shows once again what a screw up he is at being an AD.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to taylorsvolfan:

Should have stuck with CPF. Just my opinion. Go Vols !

Fulmer had for some unknown reasons let the talent pool disappear in relationship to what is needed to win in the SEC. Fulmer had always been a good recruiter (probably the main recruiter). Seemed like the excitement had disappeared from the program, and in my opinion it was time for Fulmer to move on...

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Coach, you've got my support! Hamilton needs to go and go now! Nothing is going to change. We want you gone!

Go Big Orange!

VOLS_and_REDSOX_4ever writes:

in response to TennesseeTuxedo:

Stop the blaming of Lane Kiffin for the state of the UT football program. That fault clearly lies with Phil Fulmer, who took the program into a nose-dive and crashed it straight into the ground. That was not Kiffin's nor Hamilton's fault. Thank Fulmer and the good ole boy cronies that surrounded him and the UT program.

Uh oh, you talked ill of Phillip Fulmer, expect CantStandSaban to comment on this.

BUT

You are Totally right, Fulmer was a great coach for UT and I will always respect him for what he did. However, he lost what success he had and sent the program down and had expectations lowered, Dooley is raising them back up.

Good intelligent post!

TommyJack writes:

in response to taylorsvolfan:

Should have stuck with CPF. Just my opinion. Go Vols !

HaHa..good one, Taylors. You ARE kidding, aren't you?

bobbarbilly writes:

What if Cam Newton had not decided to choose Auburn as his stepping stone and Issac Newton had sat under a Mulberry Tree and Fig Newton had been a pancake? What if the slipper had been three sizes too small for Cinderella and the embattled farmers gathered by the rude bridge had not fired the shot heard round the world?
The football past is behind us and the football future is ahead of us. I am optimistic about it.Go Vols!!

vols2#227315 writes:

I would take Flumer any time to Doodley. Fulmer could recruit. If he had the money that Doodley had to get the right assistant in, you would be suprised who UT would be now; especially with Doodley schedule.

Voluvr writes:

And what if........Mike Hamilton hired a caveman...and what if John Adams had said No to this story.....and what if the KNS started looking for good news from UT, it's lifeblood.....

VolzsFan writes:

The actual count when you consider kids on the roster and kids that where committed in a class that Rivals had ranked in the top 5, was 40 kids lost. 40 kids lost one way or another by Lane. The numbers are there for anyone to see. That is also the number Jimmy Hyams has came up with in his research. Lane was the program crippler.

But....had we went from Hall of Fame Fulmer to the best coach in Tenn history Fulmer, we would still be averaging 9.5 wins per year, still have 6-9 kids drafted, would have been in the SEC title game at least once in the past two years, would have two real recruiting classes where we had kids that other major SEC schools wanted, still would have been selling every ticket in Neyland etc.. While the Hall of Famer was here we led the nation in ESPN Gameday appearances. The only time they come now would be on the way to Athens or Tuscaloosa. We went from relevant and the best time in school history to back to a bridesmaid program in the hands of a guy that has never beaten a team with a winning record. Before that we had a guy with no record. When will those that think Tenn is or has always been this great program ask themselves why we ended up with coaches that should be at Middle Tenn instead of Tenn? It points to Hamilton and the fact that no one will work for him as well as the way he treated the best coach in school history.

Thanks for getting us back to pre-1992 reality again and wiping out all the program gains Mike.

VolunteerLifer writes:

What if UT football went from Fulmer to Dooley? Isn't that a question for Mike Hamilton?

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Unrealistic article. If you believe that we would have fired Fulmer and then directly hired Dooley, then you're completely out-of-touch with reality. No disrespect to Coach Dooley in saying that either.

Circumstances (Kiffin bolting for USC) and timing (Kiffin bolting less than 3 weeks from Signing Day) significantly impacted the "pool" of qualified coaches willing and able to take the UT job. I think it's safe to say that no coach "worth his weight" would have departed their school for another like Kiffin did.

Either way, we are Tennessee. We will recover. I hope.

TennesseeTuxedo writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Using your metaphore....Fulmer's plane may have been losing altitude, BUT it was indeed Kiffin who totally crashed it into the ground. So yes...Kiffin get's plenty of well deserved blame.

Kiffin had a winniing rcord in his one season at UT, What was Fulmer's record in his final season?

Just take a look at the recruiting class of 2008 and the guys who were selected in the NFL Draft last week. Two of them in the 5th and 6th rounds. That and two losing seasons in his final 4 seasons speaks volumes of the shape that Fulmer left the program in.

beartn#223846 writes:

I still don't understand the vitriol leveled at Fulmer. He won our first national title in 47 years. Maybe it was time for him to go, but his record is a fairly close second to Neyland. He had a great run, and I appreciate the title.

murrayvol writes:

in response to taylorsvolfan:

Should have stuck with CPF. Just my opinion. Go Vols !

Should not have stuck with CPF. Just my opinion. Go Vols!

Volsfan94 writes:

in response to vols2#227315:

I would take Flumer any time to Doodley. Fulmer could recruit. If he had the money that Doodley had to get the right assistant in, you would be suprised who UT would be now; especially with Doodley schedule.

Shows how idiotic some people are. This post is a perfect example of one idiot.

OrangePride writes:

in response to TennesseeTuxedo:

Kiffin had a winniing rcord in his one season at UT, What was Fulmer's record in his final season?

Just take a look at the recruiting class of 2008 and the guys who were selected in the NFL Draft last week. Two of them in the 5th and 6th rounds. That and two losing seasons in his final 4 seasons speaks volumes of the shape that Fulmer left the program in.

OMG, go get a life will you! You want to compare one 7 win season by Kiffin to Fulmer's record?? Yes...we all know Fulmer's last year was subpar...how was the year before that? Go read the other posts on just how many athletes we lost due to the Kiffin debacle. The man did NOTHING for building the talent on the Tennessee roster! As for his ability to recruit, just go look at all the NFL players that came in under Fulmer, not just two years. I'm not suggesting perhaps it wasn't time to make the coaching change...but I certainly don't think Fulmer can be totally blamed for what Dooley inherited. Good grief.

TennesseeTuxedo writes:

in response to OrangePride:

OMG, go get a life will you! You want to compare one 7 win season by Kiffin to Fulmer's record?? Yes...we all know Fulmer's last year was subpar...how was the year before that? Go read the other posts on just how many athletes we lost due to the Kiffin debacle. The man did NOTHING for building the talent on the Tennessee roster! As for his ability to recruit, just go look at all the NFL players that came in under Fulmer, not just two years. I'm not suggesting perhaps it wasn't time to make the coaching change...but I certainly don't think Fulmer can be totally blamed for what Dooley inherited. Good grief.

You continue to gloss over the fact that Fulmer led the UT football program in two of it's worst seasons ever. Fulmer had nobody to blame for the two losing seasons. Nobody left him those players and recruited and coached every one of them.

Fulmer did less with more talent than any coach in the nation. Just look at the past 10 years of schools with the most players drafted overall and in the first round. UT was in the top 5-6 of each category and yet we did not win SEC Championship in that same time period. That speaks volumes of how poorly coached, our teams were the last several years of Fulmer's reign.

The Emperor has no clothes on.

rabidvol1998 writes:

Dooley and Fulmer are better off that Lane came. The Fulmer haters loved Kiffin (won't admit it now) because he was so non-Fulmer. Now the same people call Dooley a "young Fulmer". Meaning Fulmer needed to go because "the game had passed him by" but he did understand the culture of southern football as Dooley does.

I'm tired of hearing everyone else talk and tired of hearing myself talk. Dooley is our coach. Best I can tell he has the tools to get the job done. Let's support him and hope for brighter days. Like the decade of dominance called the 90's.

whiskeyman writes:

Dooley is a really "good" man, no question! But a 500 Coach! Just like John "gosh darnit" I hate to say that but it's so! Cammie's gotta go and take that 500 baseball coach with ya. Demonico's lookin pretty good bout right now! Oh and by the way, bring back the Pearl or we will be 500 there too!

OrangePride writes:

in response to TennesseeTuxedo:

You continue to gloss over the fact that Fulmer led the UT football program in two of it's worst seasons ever. Fulmer had nobody to blame for the two losing seasons. Nobody left him those players and recruited and coached every one of them.

Fulmer did less with more talent than any coach in the nation. Just look at the past 10 years of schools with the most players drafted overall and in the first round. UT was in the top 5-6 of each category and yet we did not win SEC Championship in that same time period. That speaks volumes of how poorly coached, our teams were the last several years of Fulmer's reign.

The Emperor has no clothes on.

And you continue to miss the point. No one is arguing that the last four years under Fulmer were not good and the program was sliding. (Although, even in those years he averaged a little over 7 wins a season, same as Kiffin). The point is that KIFFIN gets a big share of blame for taking the program even lower...a LOT lower. As for NFL selections from that last year, a good number of players who might have been here had Fulmer stayed, never arrived on campus. So who knows. As for "poorly coached," I just don't see how one of the winningest coaches over a career can be put in that category. But you're entitled to your opinion on that, so we will have to just disagree.

orangeman1 writes:

All programs slide when they lose great coordinators and have injuries. Sure the Vols slid in Fulmer's last 5 years, but even in his worst 5 years of his career he still finished ranked 3x, had two 10 win seasons,averaged 8 wins a season, and won the East 2x. He even finished tied for the best record in the SEC less than a year before he was fired. And he has proven he could turn things around before by never going more than a year without winning at least 9 games. He had a top ten recruiting class coming in also when he was fired. Add the over 20 players that left the team after he was fired and UT would be in alot better shape now imo. I just think some fans have unrealistic expectations, and UT wouldve been better off fixing the piece of the puzzle than to dismantle a whole staff and bring in a bunch of rogue coaches. I do think going from Fulmer to Dooley wouldve left the Vols in better shape now. I like Dooley and hope he can get UT back to the level Fulmer had them.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Vince Dooley was a great football coach and his son is a chip off the ole block. DD will continue to recruit well and eventually turn the program around.

OwensboroVol writes:

Derek Dooley was handed a football program that resembled someone having to build a program from scratch, such as a school just starting a football program. I think we owe a lot to the guys like Stocker and Moore who stuck around under difficult circumstances. I hope that this year things will be improved and that in 2012 we can be competitive in the SEC east. I may never see another National Championship but would be absolutely thrilled to do so.

TennVol01 writes:

Let us see. Go from an in shape athletic guy with a Lawyer degree from an over weight lazy guy who was resting on his championship way back in 1998. I will chose the Lawyer. Lazy folks do no work.

hglover40#234154 writes:

For people who don't understand why some folks have an attitude about Fulmer. UT had 60 players drafted from 2000-2009 and ZERO championships - check out this link
http://www.mrsec.com/2011/04/bang-for...

Sure he could recruit but what was it good for?? Giving Fulmer all that talent was like giving a blind man a nice rifle with an expensive scope and sending out to kill some deer!!!

LaneBrains writes:

Well Vols fans, you would have missed the top defensive mind in the history of football, the top recruiter and the top yound head coaching talent ever to walk on campus. All the things Hammy promised, we delivered.

CLK, Monte and Ed

slb#1351874 writes:

in response to Volsfan94:

Shows how idiotic some people are. This post is a perfect example of one idiot.

Volsfan94 you pegged that yo-yo correctly.
You know what we may not be able to grow corn on old Rocky Top but we sure can grow some dumb butts can't we?

AncientVolFan writes:

It's obvious that for many fans, Phil Fulmer was the worse thing that ever happened to UT Football. He was the worse coach UT ever had.
We would have won 10 national championships if not for Fulmer. We should really give back the one national championship trophy we won under Fulmer and wipe all records of him off the books and give up the 150 victories he won. This is the only way we can move forward. UT football would have been great except for the awful Phil Fulmer. You only have to read fans posts to realize this.
Some make nice by saying that Fulmer had good seasons while others coached at UT, but without the other coaches Fulmer couldn't beat UT Chattanooga. Let's wipe Fulmer's national championship and 150 wins off the record so we can return to decent football and never darken a post or do a article with Fulmer's name again.

feathersax writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

You can tell the doldrums have started. What a fluff piece.

+1, RoadTrip! Couldn't have said it better.

easleychuck writes:

I will try and make this as simple as I can. Three head coaches in three years is going to take some time to rebound from.

No coach in recent memory has had to deal with the double hit of attrition that this staff is working through.

CCLC writes:

This really is the quintessential slow-news-day-in-college-football story.

Brac_Jack writes:

Fulmer needs to be Athletic Director. Fire Hamilton!

FarmerVol writes:

When a CEO says loyalty is the best qualification a person can have: the company is on the way out of business. Same goes for football coaches. Without innovation, change, and new ideas, nothing can keep pace in a competitive environment - even and most especially the business of football. Fulmer is no different than any other coach, except he did win a national championship and that made him special - for that one year. As Orangebloods, we owe him a debt of gratitude for giving us something many fans at other schools will never have. Wudda, cudda, shudda, is like hindsight - its 20/20. Next season is what we have to look forward to and it looks like it is shaping up to be a better year than last year. GBO.

marnel1958 writes:

in response to FarmerVol:

When a CEO says loyalty is the best qualification a person can have: the company is on the way out of business. Same goes for football coaches. Without innovation, change, and new ideas, nothing can keep pace in a competitive environment - even and most especially the business of football. Fulmer is no different than any other coach, except he did win a national championship and that made him special - for that one year. As Orangebloods, we owe him a debt of gratitude for giving us something many fans at other schools will never have. Wudda, cudda, shudda, is like hindsight - its 20/20. Next season is what we have to look forward to and it looks like it is shaping up to be a better year than last year. GBO.

Excellent post! No poor mouthing about CPF, Kiffin, nor the OC CPF brought in will change history. CDD is our coach! But people, please, give CPF his due! He won a NC! I was there and witnessed / enjoyed it. No one the UTAD could have hired loved his school and job more than CPF. And let's face it, most of the Kiffin bashers were defending him when trolls made fun of us on these boards. So, look forward, not backward, and support CDD if YOU love Tennessee!

webbofconfusion writes:

in response to LaneBrains:

Well Vols fans, you would have missed the top defensive mind in the history of football, the top recruiter and the top yound head coaching talent ever to walk on campus. All the things Hammy promised, we delivered.

CLK, Monte and Ed

As I remember we had one of the top recruiters, one of the top defensive minds, and one of the best offensive minds.... and we won a national title... To expect national titles year over year is ridiculous. Maybe we should have cut bait on the basketball program sooner and maybe we should cut bait on the womens program, for that matter baseball softball, and while we're at it we should cut bait on all the programs so we have mor to feed our fat faces....

Maybe blaming the coaches is the wrong thing to do... The AD made the decision. Maybe we should trim some fat there????

Outdated writes:

Read the report on Dooley's golf..he beat Spurrier..who HAS BEEN reported to be good..the answer to the question is..we would have been more competitive in golf at the coaches tournament if we had gone from Fulmer to Dooley...
How does this relate to football..shows Dooley places more importance on the appearance and conditioning of the man at the top..does this improve chance of success..time will tell...I thing Dooley is going to be a winner..here and later at Georgia...

PennVol writes:

I guess today's lesson learned is not to hire Kiffin.

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