As Derek Dooley's future grows more shaky, team still has goal of bowl eligibility

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley during a timeout in the second half against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel Tennessee coach Derek Dooley during a timeout in the second half against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray runs the ball during the second half against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray runs the ball during the second half against Missouri at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Even as the ambitious goals of August have wilted during an SEC losing streak, Tennessee players have retained a remarkable air of enthusiasm and focus each week.

That good cheer will be tested more than ever after a 51-48 loss in quadruple overtime to Missouri on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

The list of goals to play for is rapidly shrinking:

The end of the "first season" two weeks ago at South Carolina ended any hope of the Vols knocking off a ranked opponent

The idea of playing for the future of the coaching staff seems to be a long-shot.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart's official stance has been that coach Derek Dooley and the football program will be evaluated after the season.

But after Saturday's loss dropped to 4-6 and 0-6 in the SEC, Dooley's ultimate fate seems almost a foregone conclusion.

Then there's the goal of making the postseason. Even that aspiration is hanging by a thread. The Vols must win both of their final two games — at Vanderbilt and at home against Kentucky — to be bowl eligible. The reward would be a trip to lowest tier of SEC bowls. Yes, the Music City Bowl in Nashville or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis would be possibilities. But so would the (gulp) BBVA Compass Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

"We've got no other options but to go try to beat Vanderbilt and still try to go get into a bowl game," Dooley said after the game. "That's all we can do. It's hard. We've lost four games on the last possession. I guess we're 1-5 or 1-4 at the end of the game. So, it's hard."

Dooley was asked how the loss affected his future.

"I don't know," he said. "We're hurting because of the game and the way the kids played their tails off. There's a lot of negativity and that comes with the territory. I'm just proud of how they keep going out there and they lay it on the line."

Dooley's overall record at Tennessee is 15-20. In 22 SEC games, Dooley has four wins, beating Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in 2010 and Vanderbilt in 2011.

Quarterback Tyler Bray said he was confident the team could bounce back for the final two games of the season.

"We lost. That was it," he said. "We've just got to come in tomorrow, get our running in, and come to practice Monday focused."

Asked if that was getting tiresome, Bray deadpanned, "The running on Sundays is."

Linebacker A.J. Johnson said the routine is getting old.

"I'm tired of losing," he said. "I don't play to lose."

Tight end Mychal Rivera, a senior, said he thinks the bowl game is still a goal worth playing for.

"Two more wins and we're bowl eligible," he said. "That's what we're looking toward right now. We're going to be ready for that."

Cornerback Justin Coleman said the familiarity of Saturday's feeling gives him confidence the Vols will be able to bounce back.

"It makes it easier to come together," he said. "We know what it feels like to lose a close game like this."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 246

NeedForSpeed writes:

Why is he still coach??? Where's that paypal account where we can send in money to end their contracts?

GloryDays writes:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

arkyvol writes:

the only solace i took from today's game was that it lessened the chances my alma mater would be humiliated in a bowl game.

shorttail writes:

there is not a team out there that could win with this defense

kd45music writes:

In searching for a new coach, I hope Hart will be diligent but also careful not to hire someone like Petrino. The program has beenn cleaned up and that is to Dooley's credit; he's just not a good head coach. So let's find a man with integrity who also happens to be a danged good coach. I'd love to have a true Tennessee man in charge, but that's not going to happen, so we'll probably wind up with a mercenary.

Rumblefish writes:

"SHAKY"????? I'd say the ground is RUMBLING for sure!!!

JDX47 writes:

You know, I am sick of hearing people buying into the concept "the program was in such depths of dispair when Fulmer left." Sure, it wasn't where it was in the early 2000s, but it was 9 miles ahead of most schools outside the SEC. I can assure you Missouri wasn't chock full of top recruits either...confident Vandy wasn't either but they have done a lot better than Dooley in the last 3 years.

Everyone continues to talk about "it would be hard to get a coach to come to TN, it is in such depths of disrepair." I will GUARANTEE YOU that there are 40 coaches in America that could take the talent we have RIGHT NOW and have won 8 games this year already...GUARANTEE...

If you think that the cupboard is bare, you are full of it...The COACHING CUPBOARD is what is bare.

Vols_fan_27 writes:

Heard a quote earlier in the week and it made me think a lot of Tennessee Football. Especially after todays loss...

"What should be done eventually, must be done immediately."...

Basically meaning, why put off the inevitable? While I was never a Doolaide drinker nor was I calling for his firing, after the past 2 weeks there is no mistake that a change has to be made. Especially after he quit on our offense at the end of regulation... no excuse for that... I don't care what he says...Go ahead and get the search started... GBO!

BigOrangeRock writes:

YEAR FOUR WITHOUT FULMER.

Merlot was RIGHT.

florida-volfan writes:

I'll tell you what, its just a football game and the sun comes up tommorow like any other day, but I'm so frustrated and PO'd right now I could choke the life out of one of those defensive coaches...I kid you not. How do let that game getaway with a 21-7 halftime lead. What is up with these kids and coaches when they come out after halftime...somebody needs to light a fire in this teams ***, but I can tell you right now its not going to be this coaching staff, because I think everyone's seen enough of this inept phooey

SteelerNation writes:

Dooley gave on his player with 30 seconds and 2 timeouts left. So now I give up on him being the coach of my football team. His players deserve better than that.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

40 seconds remaining, 2 time outs remaining, run out the clock....UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

killervol69 writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

Friend, I'm not sure what you're smoking, but evidently is some good stash. Also, it's quite obvious you know VERY LITTLE about SEC football, and UT football. People are going to hammer you on this dimwit comment you made, I suppose some folks are just glutten for punishment. Enjoy.

smokysbark writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

C'mon man!

CrankE writes:

You're not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore!

Fire Dooley today. Hire Debby Jennings as interim head coach!

florida-volfan writes:

in response to JDX47:

You know, I am sick of hearing people buying into the concept "the program was in such depths of dispair when Fulmer left." Sure, it wasn't where it was in the early 2000s, but it was 9 miles ahead of most schools outside the SEC. I can assure you Missouri wasn't chock full of top recruits either...confident Vandy wasn't either but they have done a lot better than Dooley in the last 3 years.

Everyone continues to talk about "it would be hard to get a coach to come to TN, it is in such depths of disrepair." I will GUARANTEE YOU that there are 40 coaches in America that could take the talent we have RIGHT NOW and have won 8 games this year already...GUARANTEE...

If you think that the cupboard is bare, you are full of it...The COACHING CUPBOARD is what is bare.

There is plenty of talent on this football team to compete and win games....Its the coaching that has totally messed up UT. Look at what Kevin Sumlin is doing in his first year at ATM...enough said

Tru138 writes:

How is it that Dooley's even gonna be around to watch them run tomorrow? Ridiculous.

JDX47 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

There is plenty of talent on this football team to compete and win games....Its the coaching that has totally messed up UT. Look at what Kevin Sumlin is doing in his first year at ATM...enough said

Exactly right...Let's move on to a new coach and put this nightmare behind us.

monstermd writes:

I've supported Dooley since he was first hired. All the arguments that were made about him inheriting a mess and everything I still say is true. But after the loss to Kentucky I changed my views and began to think he wasn't cut out. But then I bought into the hype in the offseason, followed by the hype after NC State game, and then reality set in. Coach Dooley seems like a great guy. The problem is he can not come up with great solutions to solve TN's problems. When you look at the facts, it is just glaringly obvious that he does not know how to coach. He left La Tech with a losing record. In the three years we've had Dooley, the coach at La Tech has improved the team and gotten them ranked?!?!?!? Sounds to me it's not the talent it's the coach. I'm sorry Coach Dooley, I didn't just put the doolaid down, I threw it up because it made me sick to my stomach. Hopefully we can get a good coach. Not some flash in the pan.

PennVol writes:

Let's see...we have a better chance letting the other team start at the 25 against our pathetic defense than trying go gain 25-30 yards with Bray and kick a field goal. Dooley said b/c the first 2 plays didn't work out, he didn't have any confidence in gaining a first down and we've have to punt and give them friggin' 10 seconds to score!! Worst coach in America, at any level. This guy can snatch defeat from the hands of victory in every big game. 0 for Top 25.

vq4nfo writes:

Vandy will be a tough game. Hart most likely wants to avoid a bowl game. You lose money on the very lowest tier bowls.

cantfixstupid writes:

I like Derrick Dooley ...... but he's just not a good coach. Why can't we recruit ??

Mr_Bandman writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

No. NO NO NO NO NO. This is just wrong. Today was not Phil Fulmer's fault. It wasn't Lane Kiffin's fault. It wasn't Mike Hamilton's fault. It wasn't Sal Sunseri's fault. It wasn't because the opponent was loaded 3-deep at every position with 4- & 5-star athletes. This loss is 100% on Derek Dooley. HE blew it---bad play calling, no clue how to manage a late-game clock, and an inability to counter the other team's adjustments. I'm not a troll on this site---I'm a 1989 UT grade and proud of it---I wear my class ring every day, my car has orange T's all over it, my daughters grew up wearing little orange cheerleading outfits, and Rocky Top still puts a lump in my throat when I hear 100,000 people singing it at Pre-Game. I bleed orange, and, frankly, I'm sick of the excuses we've all made for CDD this year. It's time. I don't care if you agree with me or not. I'm right on this one.

Col26ca writes:

A real Man would resign, don't expect it to happen with this one. Pray for his family.

coltsman writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

How can you say Kiffin messed the program up? he had a winning record and he almost beat Alabama except for two blocked kicks and they didn't have enough back ups in the 2nd half. I can't believe everyone is blaming Kiffin. He done exactly what everyone else would do (go back to their home school)Look at Johnny Majors. I wish we still had Kiffin he could he recruit and he had discipline on our Football team

PA-Vol writes:

First year coach Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M beats bummer... You don't say one year - hmmm... I thought for sure it took more than 3 years to turn a program... Fix it now!

JDX47 writes:

in response to cantfixstupid:

I like Derrick Dooley ...... but he's just not a good coach. Why can't we recruit ??

Recruiting is important, but THE PROBLEM WE HAVE NOW IS COACHING. This year, if he stays, we won't get any recruits as they know he will be a dead man walking next year.

PennVol writes:

"Boy, was I wrong." - Barbara Dooley

VolQB writes:

When the 40 sec went off the clock all i could do is yell at the TV "your done" "your done" "your done"

What a idiot. I cut Doo slack 1st year newbe on field coaching mistakes. What is frustrating is that I think Doo has a good plan to build a program BUT he is clueless when Doo tries to make a field decision within 5 seconds. He is truely clueless. I was a supporter BUT now "your done".

Rumblefish writes:

OVER-UNDER BETS ON DOOLEY'S REMAINING DAYS!!!
(enter your entry below)

I say 9 (monday after Vandy game)

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

He's NOT making progress. He proved today with 40 secs left in the game he has no clue!

bigdisbig writes:

Its a shame that the players on this team have such a stupid coach. These guys deserve better. They play their hearts out and Doofus honestly doesn't have a clue as a coach. He allows 40 seconds run off first half then another 30 the second half.
He is absolutely lost in this league. I truly believe he WANTS to get fired so he can sit on his worthless rear and make another million or two. I think anyone on this site could do better than Doofus.

BigD has spoken.

JimmyJoe writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

What game were you watching today GD? What makes you think that this team will be any better in...my gosh...did you say four years? Four years from now? COM'ON MAN!

PennVol writes:

Does anybody think Dooley was told by Hart that he was done at the end of the year so Dooley didn't try to win today?

orange_eVOLution writes:

Love my Vols and hope they make a bowl, but Dooley is done now no matter what.

jimr07 writes:

Charles Davis for A.D.

CMKSIDESHOW writes:

0-6 in the SEC, what a joke. Last year 1-7, why is this guy not fired. I think Dooleys mom and Dad must be having some input in there sons horrendous coaching career. If he is still coaching them in 2013 , somebody call me and let me know when he is fired because only then will I watch them play again.

djohnnyg writes:

Let's say that Dooley DID inherit such a mess that he deserves more time to right the ship.

What has he done...AT ALL to make anyone think HE is the man qualified to fix it?

Is it his stellar record at La.Tech? Is it cuz Saban said he was a good coach? Nothing like trusting one of your rivals recommendations as to who should coach YOUR team.

Here's the main thing...HE CAN'T COACH.

What he did today at the end of reg. was unforgivable. You have the ball at the opposing teams 40 yd. line w/ two timeouts and plenty of time to AT LEAST give Palardy a shot. Instead, he sits on it and takes his chances with overtime?

Horrible.

Yes, a HC needs time to fix a mess, but his coaching alone merits an immediate dismissal.

What kind of weird obsession do you guys have with Dooley anyway?

"Give him more time"? WHY? Cuz he has turned around programs before? Really? When?

Cuz he's a good coach? Really? Examples please.

Rumblefish writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Its a shame that the players on this team have such a stupid coach. These guys deserve better. They play their hearts out and Doofus honestly doesn't have a clue as a coach. He allows 40 seconds run off first half then another 30 the second half.
He is absolutely lost in this league. I truly believe he WANTS to get fired so he can sit on his worthless rear and make another million or two. I think anyone on this site could do better than Doofus.

BigD has spoken.

you're such a FRAUD. you were on this site touting how good of a coach Dooley was a couple of weeks ago. GO AWAY BANDWAGON

ambrown64 writes:

THe decisions at the end of regulation defies logic. He basically gambled on his "D." What would possibly cause a man in a desperate situation gamble on this "D?"

bigdisbig writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

you're such a FRAUD. you were on this site touting how good of a coach Dooley was a couple of weeks ago. GO AWAY BANDWAGON

Dude you have the wrong guy evidently. I have NEVER supported Dooley. Look at my past posts and you will see. IF I ever said Dooley was a good coach it was a sarcastic remark.

djohnnyg writes:

Is this all about feeling sorry for "a good man"?

What about Fulmer? He was a good man too but u guys had no problem iviscerating everything about the guy from his weight to his wife to everything else about him.

You feel sorry for Dooley. That's sweet, but this is a tuff business and a tuff conference, but a conference that UT "used to" be one of the top players in.

If winning is so unimportant to everyone now than why get rid of Fulmer in the first place?

SevierResident writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

Am I missing something here? How did he get here in the first place.

W L T PCT
2007 Louisiana Tech 5 7 0 .417
2008 Louisiana Tech 8 5 0 .615
2009 Louisiana Tech 4 8 0 .333
2010 Tennessee 6 7 0 .462
2011 Tennessee 5 7 0 .417
2012 Tennessee 4 5 0 .444

Rumblefish writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

Dude you have the wrong guy evidently. I have NEVER supported Dooley. Look at my past posts and you will see. IF I ever said Dooley was a good coach it was a sarcastic remark.

Yep. I have the wrong dude. My apologies. I'm thinking BOF76.

bigdaddy37821 writes:

in response to SteelerNation:

Dooley gave on his player with 30 seconds and 2 timeouts left. So now I give up on him being the coach of my football team. His players deserve better than that.

He would be better suited being a janitor he sure does not have a clue on coaching. I think he was adopted.

OrangeCrush writes:

Out of position, out played, out done, and most of all out coached. It's time alright, time to let Dolittle go!

I feel sorry for Coach Graham the most. He wore the Orange and wore it well. It has to be breaking his heart to see this mess.

rockytopinthedesert writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

This is a dimwit making a half-assed Obama reference. Don't you guys get it?
This has nothing to do with football.

JohnnyBeGood writes:

There is no excuse that the AD can offer up to keep Dooley, Sal and the others. They've got more severance pay than most. It's business, no results, move on. Tennessee is tired of losing. Check out the USA headlines!

chad954ut writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Dooley inherited a mess, the previous coaches wrecked the program, and Dooley needs 4 more years to fix this mess. He is doing all he can we just got to keep moving foward!

Your type is the reason our program is in it's current state. For a comment like that, you should have your football license taken away.

djohnnyg writes:

UT has just willingly and literally "bent over" and accepted they are a lower tier SEC "has been".

UT USED TO BE on par with Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, LSU but can u possibly imagine ANY of those schools accepting THREE STRAIGHT YEARS of being the bottom of the barrel in their conference?

ANother thing. I don't buy that this program was such a mess to begin with.

Things were down, but Dooley took a down program and brought it even further into the abyss.

"He's a good man". Wonderful.

Do u think for a second those schools wouldn't do ANYTHING in their power to get back to being a contender?

Those schools freak out if they are out of the top 10 for any period of time, but UT? Shoot, "let's give coach more time".

You know for a fact changes would've been made long ago at those schools i mentioned if they were performing like UT is for the THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR. NO WAY this would've been tolerated at those schools...NO WAY and you guys know it.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features