The Mighty Quinn
Stepping to the podium for the third time at SEC Media Days as Tennessee football coach, Derek Dooley sent out a warning flare Thursday morning.
"It's been a tough four years at Tennessee and I know the SEC has enjoyed taking advantage of our tough times," he said to sprawling room of media members, "but you're not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore."
About 15 minutes later, the press conference was over. It was far and away the shortest of any SEC coach this week.
Expected to be peppered with questions surrounding his perceived fragile job status, Dooley faced an array of questions on everything from the new BCS playoff setup, the Vols' potent receiving corps, the maturation of quarterback Tyler Bray and program's meeting with North Carolina State in the season opener.
That was it.
Not a single question was posed by the national media regarding Dooley's dreaded hot seat.
Asked by the News Sentinel before the press conference what his gameplan was, Dooley said, "I'm not here to sell. It's like that old song, 'A Little Less Conversation, A Little Less Action.' That's about where we are. Selling ain't going to do me any good. We've got to go out and win."
The Vols finished 1-7 in the league in 2011, landing in the basement of the SEC East. On Thursday, Tennessee was picked to finish fifth, ahead of Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and behind Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Missouri, in that order.
Before speaking to national media members at the Wynfrey Hotel, Dooley was asked by Knoxville-based media if the Vols can compete for the SEC East title.
"Absolutely we can," he said. "We have a better roster than we've had since I've been here. We're more experienced, we're deeper, we're more talented. It doesn't mean that we're where we need to be, but yeah."
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn