John Adams: LSU's level is a goal for Dooley

Derek Dooley hasn't been at LSU since the 2004 football season. Yet the program still looks familiar.

That tells you something about one of the smoothest coaching transitions in the history of SEC football. And it also contrasts sharply with the program Dooley is trying to rebuild at Tennessee.

You know all about the turmoil caused by two coaching transitions in the last three years at UT. But the LSU transition from Nick Saban in 2004 to Les Miles in 2005 was so seamless, you would have thought Miles had been promoted from Saban's staff.

The disparity in talent contributed to the contrast.

UT football was at its lowest point since the late 1970s when Lane Kiffin succeeded Phillip Fulmer as coach after the 2008 season. It wasn't much better off after Kiffin left for Southern California a year later, and Dooley was hired to clean up the mess two coaches left behind.

LSU was near the top of its game when Saban and part of his staff, including Dooley, left for the Miami

Dolphins following the 2004 season. Three years later, Miles won a national championship, as Saban did in 2003.

"It's fair to say that since about '03 (LSU) has looked the same," Dooley said as his team prepared for Saturday's game with the No. 1-ranked Tigers. "When I say that, it's not necessarily schematically. But deep, fast, aggressive, incredibly talented."

All of which speaks to Miles' recruiting, which has been just as consistent and successful as Saban's. Miles has won big with Saban's players and won big with his own.

"Everybody says, 'Well, anybody could have stepped in,' " Dooley said. "That's not true. A guy could go in and screw it up pretty easily. (Miles) deserves a lot of credit.

"Sometimes, (sustaining it), that's a lot harder than building it. He got a lot of criticism like all coaches do. The next thing you know, he's wearing everybody out. They believe in what they do, and they've never deviated from it."

Despite LSU's coaching turnover, the support staff has remained virtually intact, according to Dooley.

"I look at the media guide, and it's all the same people that I know," he said. "They've had tremendous continuity."

LSU's rebuilding job under Saban didn't take long.

The Tigers went 4-7 in 1998 and 3-8 in 1999 under Gerry DiNardo. A year later, Saban's first team finished 8-4. In the last eight years, the Tigers have averaged 10.5 wins per season.

LSU's in-state recruiting base obviously gives it an advantage over UT, which has succeeded through the years by recruiting well regionally and nationally. The coaching changes and mediocre records have made that more difficult.

Dooley knew that going in.

"We don't have 15 to 18 guys who are calling us up wanting to come (like LSU)," Dooley said. "It's tougher."

And it doesn't allow him to duplicate the LSU blueprint for rebuilding a program. But his goal is the same.

"We're going to shape what we do around the guys that we've got," he said. "That's what we're trying to do right now, because we're not so deep and talented.

"I expect to get to that (LSU's level) — to where we've got enough to compete against anybody every week."

The next two games — against No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama — at least will give Dooley an idea of how far he has to go.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 34

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

Adams dont realize this that Dooley is already steps ahead of LSU,stop being so negative about UT johnboy!!!!!

cloudodust writes:

JA : You give Hamilton no credit for, how was it worded..?, 'The Mess'? I must say, he probably feels jilted.

West10VolNHouston writes:

LSU has been built since Saban took over through the transition w/Les Miles on being a physical football team, which leads me to the following thought on UT. We don't seem to be very physical as a team at the moment, and I wonder if the coaching staff is dialing down contact in practice due to depth concerns? If so, our lack of physicality, particularly in the trenches is likely a direct result! We will have no choice on Saturday, this is a team that loves to run downhill! Our O and D lines are either gonna have to meet the challenge with a ton of desire, heart and pride or as Coach Dooley said earlier this week, they will get embarrassed!

RetainDerekDooleyPlease writes:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

Bigger_Al writes:

Adams inhales briskly.

snakeplissken writes:

We don't have the coaching staff (presently), nor the players, to be on the level of the top SEC teams this year, in 2012, or 2013. Dooley needs to make a couple of coaching change after the season, and he needs to recruit much better talent to play with the big boys.

1963VOLS writes:

in response to Lane_Kiffins_Daddy_Wears_Diapers:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you kidding,look at the qb petrino inherited, and dan mullen is not doing that great this year,we lost hunter then brey,we will be alright,just think before you post

MidTennVol writes:

You know, just a thought here...

When will we as a state decide to truly develop our own players in junior high school and high school?

Instead of moaning and whining and having to recruit out of state every year, when will we make the commitment to developing our own when they are very young?

Our 10-year-old boys can run just as fast as boys in Texas and Florida and Louisiana. They can jump just as high. They're just as strong. It's all about development into superb athletes when they are teenagers -- in junior high, middle school, high school.

Is it because we just don't have the coaching talent at those levels? The infrastructure? The passion, the desire, the fan base? Something else? What is missing? And how can we fix it?

How can we create a talent pool where, ten years from now, the Floridas and LSUs and Alabamas of the college football world are all recruiting heavily in Tennessee?

Is it the TSSAA's job? Is that where it starts? Or is it in each community, each school?

Two weeks at a coaching clinic in Knoxville every year obviously ain't getting the job done.

Thoughts?

arkyvol writes:

in response to 1963VOLS:

Are you kidding,look at the qb petrino inherited, and dan mullen is not doing that great this year,we lost hunter then brey,we will be alright,just think before you post

petrino inherited a very good, but not great q.b. other than a couple of other decent players, he had squat to work with. what he has now, he has built with not one class in the top ten of recruiting. it boggles the mind to think what he could have done had he been handed several years of top flight recruiting. but then, reading some of these posts from people who claim to be satisfied with 5-7 or 6-6 seasons out of dooley, i suspect there are a few vol fans whose minds are permanently boggled.

CarlChilders writes:

Adams missed on one statement. "Not much better off after Kiffin left?" How about worse off?

ClemCash writes:

Adams writes: "It (the UT program) wasn't much better off after Kiffin left for Southern California a year later."

Agreed! Some think Kiffin did a swell job in his only year. I guess he did.... minus the probation, negative national attention, the 6 losses, the cheating, the player arrests, the disloyal recruits and the moral victory mentality.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

You know, just a thought here...

When will we as a state decide to truly develop our own players in junior high school and high school?

Instead of moaning and whining and having to recruit out of state every year, when will we make the commitment to developing our own when they are very young?

Our 10-year-old boys can run just as fast as boys in Texas and Florida and Louisiana. They can jump just as high. They're just as strong. It's all about development into superb athletes when they are teenagers -- in junior high, middle school, high school.

Is it because we just don't have the coaching talent at those levels? The infrastructure? The passion, the desire, the fan base? Something else? What is missing? And how can we fix it?

How can we create a talent pool where, ten years from now, the Floridas and LSUs and Alabamas of the college football world are all recruiting heavily in Tennessee?

Is it the TSSAA's job? Is that where it starts? Or is it in each community, each school?

Two weeks at a coaching clinic in Knoxville every year obviously ain't getting the job done.

Thoughts?

The recruiting haul in Tennessee is actually pretty good this year. The only problem is that three of the state's highest ranked 4-star players are going to other SEC schools. Bottom line: Dooley HAS TO do a better job of recruiting in state!

linebam writes:

in response to Lane_Kiffins_Daddy_Wears_Diapers:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Both of those situations (especially MS State) was as bad, if not worse, than what Dooley inherited." Seriously?!? I suppose they too had the NCAA breathing down their necks over violations, they too had a loss of 19+ scholarships, they too had major defections from commitments, they too had a series of arrests and drug problems on the scale of what Fulmer and Kiffin left, and on and on and on... Yeah, they were much worse off than UT.

ViT writes:

in response to RetainDerekDooleyPlease:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

I love the sarcasm. I think I love even more that people who can't see through it are making arguments in its favor.

rusty_shackleford writes:

LSU is comin' to town! I'll bet Little John A. has had a chubby all week.

arkyvol writes:

in response to linebam:

"Both of those situations (especially MS State) was as bad, if not worse, than what Dooley inherited." Seriously?!? I suppose they too had the NCAA breathing down their necks over violations, they too had a loss of 19+ scholarships, they too had major defections from commitments, they too had a series of arrests and drug problems on the scale of what Fulmer and Kiffin left, and on and on and on... Yeah, they were much worse off than UT.

not only is tennessee vastly superior in facilities, tradition, recruiting classes, and general support, it apparently leads in the excuses department as well.

Vo2Vol writes:

You know, I would love to be sitting here at 4 and 1 right now and coming off a Georgia win. We are not and it is not a coaching issue. There is no doubt Coach Dooley and his staff would probably like to have a few calls back and they would do some things differently. However, the fact is that we will never compete toe to toe with the upper tier teams, on a regular basis, with 70% of the roster being underclassman. You guys that always think a coaching change is the answer are dilusional. Our program will be back and it will be back with many of these coaches leading the way. I, like the rest on here, would love to see it start Saturday, but experienced talent generally prevails. Hope I am wrong. Go Vols.

TommyJack writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

MerlOT should know dumb.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

To all of the fake Tennessee fans posting here....We are reloading. And I'd rather be us. Deep down inside, so would you...

Razor784 writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

You know, just a thought here...

When will we as a state decide to truly develop our own players in junior high school and high school?

Instead of moaning and whining and having to recruit out of state every year, when will we make the commitment to developing our own when they are very young?

Our 10-year-old boys can run just as fast as boys in Texas and Florida and Louisiana. They can jump just as high. They're just as strong. It's all about development into superb athletes when they are teenagers -- in junior high, middle school, high school.

Is it because we just don't have the coaching talent at those levels? The infrastructure? The passion, the desire, the fan base? Something else? What is missing? And how can we fix it?

How can we create a talent pool where, ten years from now, the Floridas and LSUs and Alabamas of the college football world are all recruiting heavily in Tennessee?

Is it the TSSAA's job? Is that where it starts? Or is it in each community, each school?

Two weeks at a coaching clinic in Knoxville every year obviously ain't getting the job done.

Thoughts?

I've never understood the disparity, you could say that Florida and Georgia are more polulated than we are and that's why they produce more quality players. But we're actually more populated than states like Alabama and Louisiana and I have no idea why they have more blue chippers than we do.

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

You know, just a thought here...

When will we as a state decide to truly develop our own players in junior high school and high school?

Instead of moaning and whining and having to recruit out of state every year, when will we make the commitment to developing our own when they are very young?

Our 10-year-old boys can run just as fast as boys in Texas and Florida and Louisiana. They can jump just as high. They're just as strong. It's all about development into superb athletes when they are teenagers -- in junior high, middle school, high school.

Is it because we just don't have the coaching talent at those levels? The infrastructure? The passion, the desire, the fan base? Something else? What is missing? And how can we fix it?

How can we create a talent pool where, ten years from now, the Floridas and LSUs and Alabamas of the college football world are all recruiting heavily in Tennessee?

Is it the TSSAA's job? Is that where it starts? Or is it in each community, each school?

Two weeks at a coaching clinic in Knoxville every year obviously ain't getting the job done.

Thoughts?

Some people are not going to like this answer, but it is a simple one and it is the truth.

The reason the state of Tennessee doesn't produce the kind of talent that Louisiana, Alabama or even Mississippi does, despite our higher population is...DEMOGRAPHICS.

End of story.

I will now put on the kevlar and prepare for incoming...

Go Vols!

snakeplissken writes:

in response to arkyvol:

not only is tennessee vastly superior in facilities, tradition, recruiting classes, and general support, it apparently leads in the excuses department as well.

I tell you what, it's excuse after excuse from some fans. No one expected us to win the SEC this year, but we did expect to at least go 8-4 with our schedule, and we should have been able to beat Georgia AT OUR HOUSE.

rockytop0320 writes:

I get so sick and tired of the ppl bashing dooley. This is a completely different situation than any other in college football that I can remember. 3 hc's in 3 years not even gonna go to the changes at coordinators and position coaches and bc of all this we've lost a lot of players that were commited or wud have. We still are under the max allowed scholarships. Dooley doesn't have the best record but he's been brought up around a lot of good coaches. I believe the program will be restored. I look for a lot of improvement next year then after that we should be competing for the east at the very least, if not then we can talk about derek dooley not getting it done and not a moment sooner

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to RetainDerekDooleyPlease:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

Jeffy, you need a job...

I've got the perfect one for you. You can apply to be CDD's personal assistant. After you get this position, please inform him of the things that he's done wrong while at Tennessee. That's when things will truly turn around on The Hill.

Sheeeeesh!

tigahbait writes:

Delusional Vols actually think tthey can win this game....hope is not a strategy....your program is in a serious decline....

navarrebeachvol writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what are you, like 12 years old? shouldnt you be in school? Really clever how you come up with different spellings for Dooley. Impressive for a young man of your age. And very mature!

navarrebeachvol writes:

in response to tigahbait:

Delusional Vols actually think tthey can win this game....hope is not a strategy....your program is in a serious decline....

you Tigers should know I suppose...what was that, like 40 years in the wilderness for LSU? Don't worry, you'll get back there.

navarrebeachvol writes:

in response to RetainDerekDooleyPlease:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

Jeff, the only thing you are supporting is a colostomy bag...from getting drilled on this site on a daily basis. Please work some other angle...this routine has become tired and unimaginative.

arkyvol writes:

nothing against dooley, but i'm afraid he's in way over his head. i don't see the vols as being a factor in the sec for at least a decade. i don't see him being around for more than a couple more years. LSU went through a good half dozen coaches between mcclendon and sabin, all of whom failed to make them respectable (rein, stovall, arnsparger, archer, hallman, dinardo and hunter). that's between 1979 and 2000, if you want to figure it up in dog years. if the vols match that pace, we ought to be respectable in say, 2028.

VolZX10R writes:

in response to ViT:

I love the sarcasm. I think I love even more that people who can't see through it are making arguments in its favor.

It's true. He tricks people every time with this persona. Incredible sarcasm!

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

in response to RetainDerekDooleyPlease:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

I am sure you prefer great athletes and coaches...athletes (or should I say losers) like Dwight (you know who I am talking about, uncle), who not only averages 1 point per game, but uses "sickness" as an excuse to not play games. Right, Jeff? That must sound so fair and accurate to people like you.

Vol_in_exile writes:

in response to RetainDerekDooleyPlease:

Derek Dooley is getting it done. Yes Nick Saban turned LSU from a loser to an 8-4 winner in one year. Yes Saban turned Alabama into a 12-2 SEC champion in his second year at Bama. Yes Chizik won a national championship at Auburn his second year. But all true Vol fans know that UT just can't be turned around in two years. We just don't have the kind of "tradition facilities and money" to expect that. Who do these trolls think we are, Alabama or Auburn?

These trolls will just never get it. Coach Derek Dooley turning in a 6-6 record, or maybe 5-7 is great progress. I support Derek Dooley.

At what point does sarcasm become bitterness? Or whiny?

Saban turned LSU & Alabama around quickly, and Chizik turned Auburn around quickly, but Spurrier's taken a good deal longer to do something at USC. Would you say after his work at Florida he's a bad coach? Should he have only been given 2 years at USC?

How many turn-around successes have their been out of coaches who took longer than 2-4 years in Div-I? It took Majors over a decade at UT, and he'd won a National Title previously at Pitt.

arkyvol writes:

in response to Vol_in_exile:

At what point does sarcasm become bitterness? Or whiny?

Saban turned LSU & Alabama around quickly, and Chizik turned Auburn around quickly, but Spurrier's taken a good deal longer to do something at USC. Would you say after his work at Florida he's a bad coach? Should he have only been given 2 years at USC?

How many turn-around successes have their been out of coaches who took longer than 2-4 years in Div-I? It took Majors over a decade at UT, and he'd won a National Title previously at Pitt.

spurrier gets a pass because he's trying to build a winner where they've never had one. if he were at u.t., the tolerance span would be a lot shorter. as for majors, i must have missed something. other than widely spaced hiccups, all i remember of the 17 years he was in knoxville was a higher level of mediocrity.

OwensboroVol writes:

I was looking through the ESPN Top 150 list earlier this evening. Tennessee had only 2 commitments on that list. Until We start recruiting better players we are not going to compete with Alabama, LSU, Florida, or any of the other top SEC Teams. I love Tennessee Football and have since 1958 when I attended my first game. I don't like to say negative things about our team or its coaching staff, but the recruiting has got to improve or we are never going to climb our way back to being a SEC Powerhouse. When the recruiting wars are over in February, Although We will have a top 20 recruiting class, we will still lose ground to at least 4 maybe 6 teams in the SEC. Every year I watch the recruiting wars and wonder when,if ever, we will be able to climb back into being relevant in the SEC.

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