Mike Strange: Vols pick bad time to leave bad impression

Mike Strange

The 2011 Tennessee football season has shut down with two last impressions. They couldn't be more contrasting.

In the first, an unauthorized video catches the Vols celebrating an overtime win over Vanderbilt inside the locker room. The jubilant players are hoisting coach Derek Dooley toward the ceiling, after which he delivers a rousing reminder about the one thing Tennessee always does — "kick the (blank) out of Vanderbilt."

The other thing Tennessee always does is, well, substitute Kentucky for Vanderbilt in the previous sentence.

Which brings up the very last impression of the 2011 season. The Vols not only didn't kick the anything out of Kentucky, some of them looked as if they had minimal interest in what turned out to be a streak-breaking 10-7 upset loss to the Wildcats on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

Lethargic and uninspired are a couple of descriptions applied — by Dooley, no less — to the regular-season finale, which turns out to be the finale, period.

Senior Tauren Poole said afterward some players didn't want to be there. Another senior, Austin Johnson, reported a lousy week of practice and questioned the team orientation of some younger players.

What happened to the energy and solidarity in that locker room after Vanderbilt? It was clearly gone by the opening kickoff seven days later when there was still so much on the line.

What's left is an ugly picture. And with no possible bowl redemption, it's one with which Dooley, new athletic director Dave Hart and the fan base will have to live for the next nine months.

Tennessee has recorded consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1910-11. It has lost a seventh SEC game for the first time ever.

Dooley's record is 11-14. Judging from the radio callers I listened to Sat

urday night on the drive back from Lexington, his approval rating is the lowest since he was hired in January 2010.

Don't take my word for it. In a GoVolsXtra.com web poll, 77 percent of voters disapprove of the job Dooley has done in his second season.

No one in touch with reality expected UT to compete for an SEC East title. They did expect progress from the first year to the second. Progress translates to hope and with what this program has been through since 2008, hope is vital.

Way back in September, progress was obvious. But this season peaked in September. A 45-23 win over Cincinnati was as good as it ever got.

The defense improved marginally over 2010. And give the Vols this: They were functionally able to return a punt in 2011.

The offense regressed. Once Justin Hunter and then Tyler Bray were injured, every first down was a scramble. The running game went from bad in 2010 to worse in 2011.

Unlike Larry Porter of Memphis and Turner Gill of Kansas, Dooley will be back for a third season. It's the right call. Given UT's recent turmoil, it's the only call.

That said, confidence that he's the man to restore Tennessee to championship contention on down the line has eroded. In Year Three, the progress must be tangible and show some shelf life.

When you close a season with an uninspired performance and lose to a handicapped Kentucky team, everything is called into question. In Dooley's case, that includes his brutal candor.

Some fans are weary of hearing their own coach detail how woefully undermanned and inept their team is. Maybe some players are, too.

It didn't look that way in the Vanderbilt video. One big, joyous family ready to run through a wall. If only that had been the final perception of the 2011 Vols.

But it wasn't.

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 » 157

VolinCalif writes:

Yep

volinlouisiana writes:

Dooley needs to realize that with young guys perception means alot. If you constantly re-iterate how young we are and how we are not very good, they will start to believe it and become it. One thing Kiffin and Franklin both understand is that perception is important and sometimes talking a big game (ie we're going to go into Gainesville and sing Rocky Top all night long)leads to a team that plays with confidence. If you keep saying you stink then you probably are going to stink.
I still have hope that the Vols and Dooley will get it together next year, and we can come up with at least 8 wins.

TarheelVol writes:

Dooley may be a good process coach, but he does not appear to be
a good game coach. Or very good at player motivation. It looks like
he lost this team somewhere along the line this season.

The comments from Poole about no one wanting to be out there
are pretty shocking. All these boys need to do is show up and
beat a really bad Kentucky team and they go bowling. No heart
on this team. Time to run some steps in Neyland. Or lock'em
out of the locker room they way Pat Summitt did to the Lady Vols
a year or two ago.

With Bray struggling, Dooley should have played Simms or Worley.
Either or both would have been good enough to pull off a win.

Dooley and company needs to win 8 in 2012 or be sent packing.

TommyJack writes:

A good piece by Strange.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Thank you, Mike Strange, for accurately stating what many, including myself, think. I'm tired of quickly being labelled a "Dooley hater" whenever I mention any concerns or frustration with obvious aspects of our team.
Nothing could be further from the truth!

I want Dooley to succeed, primarily because I don't want to see UT go through another major coaching change. I expect us to be able to block, tackle, kick and snap the ball on a consistent basis. We were consistently bad in these areas all year long.

We have a handful of good players, but we are not a good team. From the first game against Montana, I told a family member that our O-Line was slow-footed & weak and that we wouldn't be able to run the ball against SEC teams--it was that obvious from Game 1.

I never expected us to compete for the SEC East, but I did expect us to be competitive. Sorry, folks--being competitive for one-half of a game does not count, and we did that a lot this year. Losing to Kentucky the way we did will certainly put the heat on Dooley, though.

rabidvol1998 writes:

9 wins in 12 or it's over. I'm pulling for him, but the road will be tough. I'll be there cheering. Go Vols.

"you have to turn breakdowns into breakthroughs" - my best friend Ed.

Maybe we can do it. 1988 led to two consecutive SEC championships.

Tweedy writes:

I am almost speechless about Dooley. Bottom line he better win alot of games next year.!!! It was very clear his team did'nt play well at KY. Worst thing I have ever watched. Something is so very wrong its hard to watch and not get sick. We need to find another coach not from GA or Mars. We need a Tennessee man who played here. I'd like to see someone like Payton Manning, or Al Wilson. I bet players would respect those boys enough to give it their best. We need to take out the trash and wash out the can.

volinlouisiana writes:

in response to TarheelVol:

Dooley may be a good process coach, but he does not appear to be
a good game coach. Or very good at player motivation. It looks like
he lost this team somewhere along the line this season.

The comments from Poole about no one wanting to be out there
are pretty shocking. All these boys need to do is show up and
beat a really bad Kentucky team and they go bowling. No heart
on this team. Time to run some steps in Neyland. Or lock'em
out of the locker room they way Pat Summitt did to the Lady Vols
a year or two ago.

With Bray struggling, Dooley should have played Simms or Worley.
Either or both would have been good enough to pull off a win.

Dooley and company needs to win 8 in 2012 or be sent packing.

I agree with everything in the post except the benching Bray for Simms or Worley part. Those guys didn't prove to me that they could beat anyone at this time.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

I am much more disappointed about us losing to Kentucky than I am about the losing season. After Hunter and Bray went down, I didnt expect us to have a good season.

I for one honestly dont believe CDD deserves so much criticism. There are so many things he has already done that I so appreciate and makes me even more proud to be a Vol.

I am supremely confident that all naysayers will be quietened next season. This team is resilient, and is growing up with CDD's culture of discipline. This Vol team will make us proud next year.

GBO

volmania_82 writes:

Dooley is a good guy, but a horrible coach, I want TN to be great I doubt he will get done, its sad, I drank the dool-aid,, in heavy doses.....

bbmon13#478091 writes:

If a team :
Can't run
Can't block
Can't kick
Can't catch
Is physically weak

And can only manage two touchdowns in the 2nd half of its final 7 games....

Well....what does that tell you?? You don't have to be a Dooley supporter or detractor to look at the facts and see that this team is not making progress, is not well or competently coached.

You know, for a coach to go out and constantly berate his players - how about berating an offensive line coach who has to be the worst in this league by far??

How about berating a strength coach whose players can't push Montana, Buffalo, or MTSU off the ball to pick up a yard?

I have something for ya coach Dooley - you're in over your head and you show no understanding of what it takes to win games and compete in this league. This is big boy football, and you're coaching in a small time way.

Losing Tyler Bray for awhile during the season, Justin Hunter, and Janzen Jackson doesn't mean you shouldn't be able block - to be able to get a yard or two against the likes of Buffalo -

The program is moving backwards. There is a school of thought that a change now would be disasterous - horse hockey! If you do not make a change you sentence yourself to this same position next year, and we will be back here having this same discussion.

If you know anything much about football, you can clearly see that this head coach and staff are not going to get it done - they're totally outmatched. If you blow the thing up now, go out and PAY a good coach....and one can be had if you'll pay for it....it's quickly fixable. But you have to start with a head coach and staff that is in their element.

The program will lose more money than it would take to go out and pay someone bigger bucks to come in here and right the ship - lost ticket sales, no bowl money, less concession spending, less merchandise purchased - all of that will add up to more than it would cost to go out and hire a big time coach.

Kansas and Memphis did it right - they are not going to just sit by and blow another year when they already know their guy can't get it done.

A lot of these talking heads like to talk in coachspeak in an attempt to make themselves sound 'informed' - more time, he was left a mess, another change would be disasterous, he deserves another year - no - absolutely not.

Blow it up now, hire a real staff, and get it fixed. If you know - there is no reason to wait....and if a wide receiver playing quarterback for the now 2nd worst team in the league beats you....you know.

volaholic45 writes:

8 is my number for next year.

The team disinterest is the worst part of it. Sure as the devil doesn't make me want to use up a Saturday, park a mile from the stadium, and sit on narrow strip of aluminum.

Clever_Vol writes:

Well stated article. Not sure why we're surprised. Losing record in Division II, and we expect a winning record in Division I SEC? On top of this, he didn't even help himself by hiring top notch assistant coaches. The O-line coach should have been fired by game 3 and a replacement found either on the team or Pro's or somewhere. Offensive calls have been uninspired and by the second half, every defense had UT's number. The defense played good at times, but then gets ripped by big plays with players out of position - coaching. Worst of all, is the fact that a UK team with a wide receiver running a max of 10 plays is able to manage over 200 yards rushing - really? That's suppose to be top notch coaching? Wide receivers dropping passes all year. Who's coaching them? fire him now. Kicking game - who's coaching the kickers? They got worse. coverage? this was scary every game. Inspiration? A head coach must demand perfection, not give these "young players" excuses for lack luster performance. Quit trying to cover your backside Dooley and demand excellence of your players and inspire them to perform. We should not be surprised. I for one however, do not see how 1 more year with a clear and obvious coaching hire mistake helps the program. I understand the issues with coaching changes, but a big name coaching hire could overcome this, save any recruiting class and likely inspire the existing players to perform better. It's time for the AD to lead not act in fear of loss but understand it takes bold moves to be successful. There is no time. We have run out and we are teetering on becoming Notre Dame - a school who lives all the time in the past and doesn't have much of a present or future because it was all squandered on fear of making a move. Two years of lackluster performance will lead to a third year. We will have then wasted one more year to be in the same position. Make the cut now. It is time.

underthehill writes:

I was more upset about the Vandy video than the loss to Ky..It was probably acceptable for a player to make that comment but not the coach..even in the locker room and even if it was not supposed to be made public ..this completely changed my perception of Dooley..I understand UT football is NOW big business but it is NOT rasslin..there should be such a thing as respecting the other team and a coach teaching his players good sportsmanship and being good losers and winners..that did not happen in the video..I for one consider it poetic justice that Vandy beat a good Wake Forest team and is going to a bowl..and I did not see TN kick the blank out of Vandy..I saw them come out on top in a very competitive game.

Clever_Vol writes:

in response to bbmon13#478091:

If a team :
Can't run
Can't block
Can't kick
Can't catch
Is physically weak

And can only manage two touchdowns in the 2nd half of its final 7 games....

Well....what does that tell you?? You don't have to be a Dooley supporter or detractor to look at the facts and see that this team is not making progress, is not well or competently coached.

You know, for a coach to go out and constantly berate his players - how about berating an offensive line coach who has to be the worst in this league by far??

How about berating a strength coach whose players can't push Montana, Buffalo, or MTSU off the ball to pick up a yard?

I have something for ya coach Dooley - you're in over your head and you show no understanding of what it takes to win games and compete in this league. This is big boy football, and you're coaching in a small time way.

Losing Tyler Bray for awhile during the season, Justin Hunter, and Janzen Jackson doesn't mean you shouldn't be able block - to be able to get a yard or two against the likes of Buffalo -

The program is moving backwards. There is a school of thought that a change now would be disasterous - horse hockey! If you do not make a change you sentence yourself to this same position next year, and we will be back here having this same discussion.

If you know anything much about football, you can clearly see that this head coach and staff are not going to get it done - they're totally outmatched. If you blow the thing up now, go out and PAY a good coach....and one can be had if you'll pay for it....it's quickly fixable. But you have to start with a head coach and staff that is in their element.

The program will lose more money than it would take to go out and pay someone bigger bucks to come in here and right the ship - lost ticket sales, no bowl money, less concession spending, less merchandise purchased - all of that will add up to more than it would cost to go out and hire a big time coach.

Kansas and Memphis did it right - they are not going to just sit by and blow another year when they already know their guy can't get it done.

A lot of these talking heads like to talk in coachspeak in an attempt to make themselves sound 'informed' - more time, he was left a mess, another change would be disasterous, he deserves another year - no - absolutely not.

Blow it up now, hire a real staff, and get it fixed. If you know - there is no reason to wait....and if a wide receiver playing quarterback for the now 2nd worst team in the league beats you....you know.

Right on! Exactly right. Another year of clear mediocrity is not good for the program and I see no way this helps the program. A great coaching hire will save any recruits and motivate the current players. Clearly Dooley and this staff not only can't coach, they can't motivate players to play above their level. In football, no emotion means you get whipped. Well, we have seen that first hand for two seasons. As you said, make the change now and get on with it before we waste another year.

traderjoe writes:

Let's not repeat Bama's mistake. How many coaches did they go through before they brought in Saban? How long did it take Saban to win?

When Florida brought in Urban Meyer, what happened? How about Arkansas and Auborn? Did SC fall off the cliff when they brought in Spurrier?

We're in free fall. Be realistic, CDD may be a good guy and he's landed a few recruits (not the ones to take us to the top of the pack) but to become a great coach or even a better one, there is a long learning curve and most don't make it. TN with its tradition and facilities deserve better. Spend the bucks now and go out and hire a proven winner, or lose the bucks in the future years to paying customers.

Clever_Vol writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

I am much more disappointed about us losing to Kentucky than I am about the losing season. After Hunter and Bray went down, I didnt expect us to have a good season.

I for one honestly dont believe CDD deserves so much criticism. There are so many things he has already done that I so appreciate and makes me even more proud to be a Vol.

I am supremely confident that all naysayers will be quietened next season. This team is resilient, and is growing up with CDD's culture of discipline. This Vol team will make us proud next year.

GBO

I'm sorry, but did you really watch this team play this season and last season? A team with one of the largest offensive lines in the SEC who is all on their second year together couldn't block to run against anyone - ANYONE. In every single game, this team got completely out coached. Take a look at the second half stats - they are completely embarrassing. This is a coaching staff that cannot make half time adjustments. The play calling on offense was utterly predictable. We were lucky to have a few outstandingly talented players to bail out the coaches. The kicking game? what kicking game? Kick off and punt coverage? Horrible. I mean what phase of the game actually looked good? A coach that can't even inspire a team to beat a KY team to go to a bowl game? Dooley talks about leadership for his team? He can't even lead his team. Publicly saying all season "it's just young players making young player mistakes". Really? That is going to inspire these "young players" to stop making these mistakes and to play better or up to the next level? My gosh, there is reason we only won 1 game in the SEC and lost to a KY team with a wide receiver at QB running maybe 10 different plays. It's called piss poor coaching across the board.

Culture of discipline? How many times did the offense move and cause 10 yard penalties? How many times did the O line miss blocks? How many times was the defense out of position costing major plays? How many times did WR's drop key passes? And that is the definition of a disciplined team? Please.

I think you really need to re-evaluate your view and take off the rose colored glasses. this coaching staff will be lucky to win 2 SEC games next year. We will be lucky to get to 6 wins. We will get out coached next year like we have this year.

lemeshousomthen writes:

in response to Clever_Vol:

Well stated article. Not sure why we're surprised. Losing record in Division II, and we expect a winning record in Division I SEC? On top of this, he didn't even help himself by hiring top notch assistant coaches. The O-line coach should have been fired by game 3 and a replacement found either on the team or Pro's or somewhere. Offensive calls have been uninspired and by the second half, every defense had UT's number. The defense played good at times, but then gets ripped by big plays with players out of position - coaching. Worst of all, is the fact that a UK team with a wide receiver running a max of 10 plays is able to manage over 200 yards rushing - really? That's suppose to be top notch coaching? Wide receivers dropping passes all year. Who's coaching them? fire him now. Kicking game - who's coaching the kickers? They got worse. coverage? this was scary every game. Inspiration? A head coach must demand perfection, not give these "young players" excuses for lack luster performance. Quit trying to cover your backside Dooley and demand excellence of your players and inspire them to perform. We should not be surprised. I for one however, do not see how 1 more year with a clear and obvious coaching hire mistake helps the program. I understand the issues with coaching changes, but a big name coaching hire could overcome this, save any recruiting class and likely inspire the existing players to perform better. It's time for the AD to lead not act in fear of loss but understand it takes bold moves to be successful. There is no time. We have run out and we are teetering on becoming Notre Dame - a school who lives all the time in the past and doesn't have much of a present or future because it was all squandered on fear of making a move. Two years of lackluster performance will lead to a third year. We will have then wasted one more year to be in the same position. Make the cut now. It is time.

i stand with u, rain snow sleet or hell, i stand with u

leedsvol2007 writes:

This was going to be a tough season. The schedule was murderous and we had a very young roster.

That said I think Dooley and his staff need to be put on notice that as fans we want to see major improvement next year.

Listening to Doug Mathews this morning on Big Orange Sunday I thought his assessment was dead on.

First, we need to get our kickers coached up or we need to find new people that will get the job done. Our place kicking and punting were pathetic during the Kentucky game and not much better the rest of the season.

We need to get a big fast back and get committed to running the football to establish that threat to the opposing defense.

We need more bulk on the defensive line and better players if we can get them. And faster corners.

In Tyler Bray, DaRick Rogers, Justin Hunter and Rajon Neal we will have a formidable group of receivers and a QB that can get the ball to them so we have something positive to build on.

And Dooley and his staff need to stop publicly blaming players and concentrate on getting them coached and keep their criticisms inside the football program.

Most thinking fans knew his first 2 years were going to be tough with the attrition that happened with 2 coaching changes and realize we are not yet ready to make a run at an SEC championship.

But with sophomores and juniors in starting positions next year the depth and experience factor should be vastly improved. We now should be able to compete against middle of the road programs and play the top teams tough.

If this does not happen in the coming year coaching seats are going to get very warm next season.

GoVols!

redskinvol1 writes:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!Losing to Kentucky is unforgivable.Dooley has lost the trust of this fan forever.FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!

volfanlostnbama writes:

The coaching has lost this team...afraid never to be regained. I think the bad mouthing the coach did in public finally took its toll in private and publicly on the field. Time will tell, but my fear is that the confidence of those players can never be regained once the locker room has been lost.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

I am much more disappointed about us losing to Kentucky than I am about the losing season. After Hunter and Bray went down, I didnt expect us to have a good season.

I for one honestly dont believe CDD deserves so much criticism. There are so many things he has already done that I so appreciate and makes me even more proud to be a Vol.

I am supremely confident that all naysayers will be quietened next season. This team is resilient, and is growing up with CDD's culture of discipline. This Vol team will make us proud next year.

GBO

Still don't understand the Kentucky loss. What a horrible effort to win a very winnable game. Can't blame Dooley for all of it. The key players did not step up. They will learn how to do this. We should see measurable improvement next year.

redskinvol1 writes:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!Losing to Kentucky should get anyone fired.FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

The coaching has lost this team...afraid never to be regained. I think the bad mouthing the coach did in public finally took its toll in private and publicly on the field. Time will tell, but my fear is that the confidence of those players can never be regained once the locker room has been lost.

What public bad-mouthing are you referring to?

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!Losing to Kentucky should get anyone fired.FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!

Broken record?

redskinvol1 writes:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!Don't wait and see what happens next year.Dooley needs to pay for what he didn't do this year.FIRE DOOLEY NOW!!

VOLKING writes:

Well, at least Dooley's old team (La. Tech) had a good year. 8-4 this year. Now tell me again, what was Dooley's record with La. Tech? Anyway, he gets one more year...then we go after La. Tech's new winning coach.

orangetemplar writes:

Dooley lost the team I think there are going to be alot of transfers

jgl#233810 writes:

Kansas was smart enough to take steps to fix a bad hire of a coach that simply lacked the ability to meet the demands of major college football (or at least a team in a BCS conference). Apparently there isn't anyone with authority in Knoxville smart enough to do the same.

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

in response to volaholic45:

8 is my number for next year.

The team disinterest is the worst part of it. Sure as the devil doesn't make me want to use up a Saturday, park a mile from the stadium, and sit on narrow strip of aluminum.

I agree. 8 losses in 2012 seems about right. Losses to NC State and seven SEC teams.

Keep Dooley.

tlc3wp#268997 writes:

I remember going to the Tenn.sports camp back in the late 60's and having Hacksaw Reynolds and SteveKiner as counselors that summer.I wonder how they fell hearing remarks from today's players that they did not want to be out there on the field or players's were playing for themselves or their quaterback saying he just needed to get away from football.How many cars do you think Hacksaw would need to take out his anger on?LOL.The problem I see is that we have players and coaches and administration who have no idea about the traditions at U.T.and what it means to be a VOL. I would crank up the bus and takethis team to the state playoffs this weekend and let them see what it means to play for school pride and remind them why they came to U.T. THis act they have brought on the VOL nation is an embarassment to all of us and must be corrected this year.Being a VOL is something we take pride in no matter where we go and this team does not reflect anything I grew up being taught what a true Volunteer is.VFL

RustyVol writes:

I here alot of griping but no workable solutions from this board. Just firing one or all of the coaching staff ain't gonna work. We're already paying out to two former head coaches and an AD.
So think about this. If we hire Fulmer back as off. line coach and offensive co-ordinator. Would that help or hurt? Since we are paying him anyway why not get something for our money.
Just a thought.

69grad writes:

Dooley and his gang are just not SEC material; therefore, our team is not SEC material.

tnbigg writes:

This situation is so ugly...it's hard to even begin to think in terms of "positive outcome" potential. If so many players don't want to play...GET LOST. I'd rather have a team of inspired walk-ons that gave 110% every down to a bunch of lazy cry babies who don't give a dang about the team. That display on Saturday was beyond a disgrace...it was shocking. Anybody who has followed my posts from way back when tngeoff (some say they think tngeoff was me...nah) was posting know I have never criticized players. Now? Players and coaches own this ugly mess. I don't care who the player is...if they are breaking team rules, get rid of them. If they don't act like a team player and give 110%, put them on the scout team. SHOW ME THE PASSION TO PLAY FOR TENNESSEE. Love the earlier mention of the likes of Steve Kiner and Jack Reynolds. I am very certain nobody sawed their jeep in half after that pathetic display Saturday. BRING IT BACK. GET REAL. THIS IS TENNESSEE

knoxchatter writes:

in response to volinlouisiana:

I agree with everything in the post except the benching Bray for Simms or Worley part. Those guys didn't prove to me that they could beat anyone at this time.

Nor has Bray when comes to a team of any significance...and forget about the 'well, if he had only stayed healthy'....the outcome on Saturday was NOT solely on Bray's shoulders..but it surely couldn't have been any worse by trying Simms or Worley (with his wasted redshirt). Even Dooley said they were considering a switch after halftime because Bray was so far off course...well hello!!!

letthebigdoghunt writes:

in response to underthehill:

I was more upset about the Vandy video than the loss to Ky..It was probably acceptable for a player to make that comment but not the coach..even in the locker room and even if it was not supposed to be made public ..this completely changed my perception of Dooley..I understand UT football is NOW big business but it is NOT rasslin..there should be such a thing as respecting the other team and a coach teaching his players good sportsmanship and being good losers and winners..that did not happen in the video..I for one consider it poetic justice that Vandy beat a good Wake Forest team and is going to a bowl..and I did not see TN kick the blank out of Vandy..I saw them come out on top in a very competitive game.

Good post. VFL

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Everybody lighten up. It's over. Much better next year...

Vol-in-GA writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Thank you, Mike Strange, for accurately stating what many, including myself, think. I'm tired of quickly being labelled a "Dooley hater" whenever I mention any concerns or frustration with obvious aspects of our team.
Nothing could be further from the truth!

I want Dooley to succeed, primarily because I don't want to see UT go through another major coaching change. I expect us to be able to block, tackle, kick and snap the ball on a consistent basis. We were consistently bad in these areas all year long.

We have a handful of good players, but we are not a good team. From the first game against Montana, I told a family member that our O-Line was slow-footed & weak and that we wouldn't be able to run the ball against SEC teams--it was that obvious from Game 1.

I never expected us to compete for the SEC East, but I did expect us to be competitive. Sorry, folks--being competitive for one-half of a game does not count, and we did that a lot this year. Losing to Kentucky the way we did will certainly put the heat on Dooley, though.

Well said, sir, well said!

CarlChilders writes:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the first two Johnny Majors teams go 4-7 and 5-6 in 1977 and 1978?

CCLC writes:

in response to letthebigdoghunt:

Good post. VFL

I’m sure there are plenty of coaching candidates at the fraternity house. They’re just waiting for the call…

77VolFS writes:

in response to underthehill:

I was more upset about the Vandy video than the loss to Ky..It was probably acceptable for a player to make that comment but not the coach..even in the locker room and even if it was not supposed to be made public ..this completely changed my perception of Dooley..I understand UT football is NOW big business but it is NOT rasslin..there should be such a thing as respecting the other team and a coach teaching his players good sportsmanship and being good losers and winners..that did not happen in the video..I for one consider it poetic justice that Vandy beat a good Wake Forest team and is going to a bowl..and I did not see TN kick the blank out of Vandy..I saw them come out on top in a very competitive game.

I guess you've been underthehill too long and not realized that postgame scene after Vandy is typical of a locker room celebration. UT's been singing that version of a song for decades (normally "we don't give a d**n about the whole state of ____" but obviously had to change it for VU). Under the circumstances of the game and year, the level of celebration was not surprising. As far as this article, have to agree that the timing could not have been worse for UT to do a no-show. I anticipate we'll see some off-season changes on the offensive side of the ball. GBO !!

rocky_topper writes:

I like Derek Dooley. He's a great guy. He is not the guy to lead our program. We need to cut him and move on and not waste another year to do it as it will only set us back yet another year before making the needed change that will happen. We don't need a baby sitter for this team. We need a great coaching staff to hit the ground running and to build our program back to prominence. Our football program is the laughing stock in the entire nation. I think next season the administration on The Hill will realize they made a grave mistake when only 40-50K are attending the games when a needed change was not done. Go Little Orange!

volsfannsc writes:

I was shocked that Tauren Poole of all people had the nerve to call out his fellow players. In 2010 Tauren ran like he wanted the ball. In 2011 you might see him go in and fight for yardage on three carries per game. The rest of the game it was run to the line of scrimmage and fold. I understand the O line being what it was. They were taught to pass block and protect our true assest- the passing game. When injuries made that sour, it was futile coming up with run blocking classes that were effective. Da'rick is brilliant when he wants to be. If a pass is a stretch, he pulls up and it's noticiable. I thought Brodus was a mass improvement to Palardy, at least he wanted to be there. Bray is a bit too tempramental and needs to mature.

All this falls on Dooleys shoulders, it's on his watch. I think Dooley knows what it takes but I'm concerned about HIS execution. It has been well documented that Henry Ford was a buffoon when it came to business, therefore he surrounded himself with brilliant people who could execute his plan and foresight. It looks like Dooley should heed the same and find coaches that can execute his plan. I have no problem with Wilcox, other than 'rookie' mistakes the defense played fairly well. Almost all other aspects of the game the coaching staff seemed like deer caught in headlights. It's time for some changes.

tlc3wp#268997 writes:

This season sent me back to the 1960's when I had the priviledge to attend a Tenn. sports camp and had Hacksaw Reynolds and Steve Kiner as counselors. I wonder today how they feel hearing comments of players not wanting to be on the field,playing for their personal stats or wanting to get away from football as the quarterback said.I can hear Hacksaw Reynolds cutting his car in half now.LOL. I think one of the problems we face with this team and current coaches is that they do not understand or even know what is the Tenn. tradition and what it took to get ths program as nationally recognized as it is. Blame can be spread around to a lot of people but this is Dooley's watch so he will be held accountable when all is said and done. I would recommend that he take this team to the state playoffs in Cookeville and let them watch Maryville play or any other team playing (Greenville etc.) and see what a real team looks like and how if everyone is on the same page what a real team looks like. I was taught as a young boy in the 50"s what it meant to have pride in my state and what being a VFL meant. DO not see this with this team and for us to have success this must be corrected.

gobigorange27 writes:

Pardon me while I vent... Where's the video of CDD on the shoulders of his players after the Kentucky loss as he shouts, "we got the BLANK kicked out of us; by nobody." Really, a team without a quarterback won? This group (you can't call them a team, because teams have a common goal, or they're not a team) couldn't kick the BLANK out of the Luttrell Home for Unwed Mothers. How in the world is CDD going to fix this in the next 9 months when it is pretty clear he created it?

Other coaches go out an win with less. Bruce Pearl beat the number 1 team in the country after losing 4 players including an all-American.

How about "shut up and win."

volinlm writes:

I guess I still don't get it. This team was projected to go 6-6, maybe 7-5 this year. And that was without injuries to Hunter and Bray. The Kentucky game was sorry for the offense for whatever the reason. Otherwise, they performed to expectations. I think everyone expects UT to be a better team next year. No question Dooley feels the pressure without being reminded on this site. However, I'm reminded of the old adage 'it takes as long to get out of trouble as it did to get into it'. It took more than three years to get the Vols to this point. I suspect it will be a couple of more years before they compete for the SEC championship. If there's not significant improvement next year (8-4??,9-3?), then CDD will probably be gone. But, at least, he will not have left his replacement without talent like he was left with. I support him and wish him the best.

Tennfan4075 writes:

Every year Dooley stays is two more years of bad football, you not only have another year of poor coaching and poor decisions but you have to live with the mediocre players signed this year and next because the new coach will be severely limited in time for recruiting, unlike Dooley who managed to have a fairly good year recruiting his first because of LK's leftovers, he will not be leaving many cherries on the tree. Dooley is a poor coach and he obviously cannot motivate as shown by the Kentucky debacle. I say get rid of him now before the program gets any deeper in the cesspool of mediocrity. Think about it people, it's not like you're letting the next hall of fame coach go, this guy was at least third or fourth on the list when he was hired, that in itself should have been a forewarning of things to come.

TNVolinTexas writes:

in response to Clever_Vol:

Well stated article. Not sure why we're surprised. Losing record in Division II, and we expect a winning record in Division I SEC? On top of this, he didn't even help himself by hiring top notch assistant coaches. The O-line coach should have been fired by game 3 and a replacement found either on the team or Pro's or somewhere. Offensive calls have been uninspired and by the second half, every defense had UT's number. The defense played good at times, but then gets ripped by big plays with players out of position - coaching. Worst of all, is the fact that a UK team with a wide receiver running a max of 10 plays is able to manage over 200 yards rushing - really? That's suppose to be top notch coaching? Wide receivers dropping passes all year. Who's coaching them? fire him now. Kicking game - who's coaching the kickers? They got worse. coverage? this was scary every game. Inspiration? A head coach must demand perfection, not give these "young players" excuses for lack luster performance. Quit trying to cover your backside Dooley and demand excellence of your players and inspire them to perform. We should not be surprised. I for one however, do not see how 1 more year with a clear and obvious coaching hire mistake helps the program. I understand the issues with coaching changes, but a big name coaching hire could overcome this, save any recruiting class and likely inspire the existing players to perform better. It's time for the AD to lead not act in fear of loss but understand it takes bold moves to be successful. There is no time. We have run out and we are teetering on becoming Notre Dame - a school who lives all the time in the past and doesn't have much of a present or future because it was all squandered on fear of making a move. Two years of lackluster performance will lead to a third year. We will have then wasted one more year to be in the same position. Make the cut now. It is time.

I hate to admit it but I agree with you. I have been one who thought that Dooley could/would right the ship but I find myself questioning that now.

Do you suppose that there is a single human left on the face of the earth that doesn't know that when Marlin Lane runs the wildcat that he is going to keep the ball? I personally have NEVER seen him pass the ball off and I cannot believe that the defensive alignments in every single case called for him to keep the ball. I was absolutely dumbfounded to see Tennessee go to the wildcat after driving the length of the field. That turnover absolutely killed any chance we had of winning the game. To me it appeared that all life in our team was gone after that.

I still don't know if firing Dooley is the answer but I am certain that his staff needs some major changes if we are to even have a winning season next year. I agree that the team is backing up.

cpahiker#231287 writes:

Every coach has had unimpressive losses. An uninspired Nick Saban coached Alabama team was kicked off the field by Utah in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Coach DD effectively has one recriting class under his belt. He's trying to change the culture and build from the bottom up. There will be ups and downs (transitions are never easy). Its hard to compare the situation at UT with other programs given the Kiffin year. I for one am willing to give DD a chance for at least 2 more years. And on some level, DD is right "sometimes you get what you want but you normally get what you earn". TN fired Chief Chavis - a loyal TN coach - who delivered year after year. Hopefully, he gets his second BCS ring. Thank you Mike Hamilton. And in hindsight was Phil that bad or was there a bad hire with Clawson as OC? - in hind sight it looks like we got what we earned. Whether DD is the man or not its a program more than a year or two away from competing on the level was taken for granted under Phil.

gvegasvol writes:

in response to bbmon13#478091:

If a team :
Can't run
Can't block
Can't kick
Can't catch
Is physically weak

And can only manage two touchdowns in the 2nd half of its final 7 games....

Well....what does that tell you?? You don't have to be a Dooley supporter or detractor to look at the facts and see that this team is not making progress, is not well or competently coached.

You know, for a coach to go out and constantly berate his players - how about berating an offensive line coach who has to be the worst in this league by far??

How about berating a strength coach whose players can't push Montana, Buffalo, or MTSU off the ball to pick up a yard?

I have something for ya coach Dooley - you're in over your head and you show no understanding of what it takes to win games and compete in this league. This is big boy football, and you're coaching in a small time way.

Losing Tyler Bray for awhile during the season, Justin Hunter, and Janzen Jackson doesn't mean you shouldn't be able block - to be able to get a yard or two against the likes of Buffalo -

The program is moving backwards. There is a school of thought that a change now would be disasterous - horse hockey! If you do not make a change you sentence yourself to this same position next year, and we will be back here having this same discussion.

If you know anything much about football, you can clearly see that this head coach and staff are not going to get it done - they're totally outmatched. If you blow the thing up now, go out and PAY a good coach....and one can be had if you'll pay for it....it's quickly fixable. But you have to start with a head coach and staff that is in their element.

The program will lose more money than it would take to go out and pay someone bigger bucks to come in here and right the ship - lost ticket sales, no bowl money, less concession spending, less merchandise purchased - all of that will add up to more than it would cost to go out and hire a big time coach.

Kansas and Memphis did it right - they are not going to just sit by and blow another year when they already know their guy can't get it done.

A lot of these talking heads like to talk in coachspeak in an attempt to make themselves sound 'informed' - more time, he was left a mess, another change would be disasterous, he deserves another year - no - absolutely not.

Blow it up now, hire a real staff, and get it fixed. If you know - there is no reason to wait....and if a wide receiver playing quarterback for the now 2nd worst team in the league beats you....you know.

Yep! Well said! We can't afford to NOT to fire this guy!

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