Georgia just another tough opponent in October for Dooley
The first resume is long and impressive, well-stocked with wins and capable of standing out in a way few others could match
But after years of competing at the highest level, there's been some slippage at Georgia. Suddenly Mark Richt seems to be needing a win every week to avoid having to make some edits in the professional experience category.
The other resume is a bit shorter as a head coach, though it includes some notable work as an assistant, strong recommendations and a last name that typically gets some attention.
But even in just his second season trying to get Tennessee back among the elite after inheriting a disastrous situation, there are times when a passionate group of fans appears to be a little impatient. Quickly that has sharpened the focus on picking up a signature win for Derek Dooley, possibly providing tangible proof of progress as he goes about his rebuilding job with the Vols.
Dooley, for his part, knows the storylines about the coaches on both sidelines at Neyland Stadium on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.), though springboard victories or hot-seat speculations appear to mean little to him. The Bulldogs and Vols are conference rivals, they're jockeying for position in the division and taking advantage of one of just a handful of chances to play that the schedule guarantees each season.
That's enough for him.
"I think it's sad," Dooley said. "I think it's a sad state of where we are in college athletics because if you look at (Richt's) body of work over time, there aren't many coaches in the country who have done what he has done in the league that he is in and the competitive level he's in. There's never a program or a coach who over a long period of time doesn't hit a time where you dip a little. It's just natural.
"He's proven he's a great football coach, he's proven he can do it at the highest level — but that's the nature of the profession right now. What have you done for me lately?"
The results have steadily declined for the Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1 SEC) over the last few years, and the pressure on Richt only increased after his team lost its first two games this season.
The Vols (3-1, 0-1) haven't had much to celebrate lately either, though they can point to coaching turmoil leading up to Dooley's hiring last year and the subsequent roster attrition as a major hurdle in competing for a championship.
More recently, the Bulldogs have bounced back with three straight wins behind an opportunistic defense, a talented freshman running back in Isaiah Crowell and versatile quarterback Aaron Murray. And the Vols have shown signs of turning a corner with a high-powered offense, the prolific passing of sophomore Tyler Bray and a host of talented freshmen already pressed into action.
And whichever team comes out on top this evening could establish itself as the leading contender for a division crown — at least for the next week.
"It's human nature to get affected by what people say about you," Dooley said. "You don't want people saying bad things about you, that's human nature.
"But I always say, 'What about the next game?' If you put all that emphasis on one game, what about the next one? If we lost this one, then won the next three, nobody would give a crap what we did with Georgia. If we won this and lost the next five, they'd look back and say, 'That Georgia game didn't mean anything.' I don't know any other way to do it — it's game to game, then you wake up at the end of the season and say, 'How did we do?' "
By then, one game will be just a fraction of the resume for the season. But regardless of how it might apply to their careers overall, adding a victory right now figures to be appealing enough to both guys simply because it's the next chance to get one.