New coach has opportunity to revive Vols

University of Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart addresses the media regarding the future of the football program at the university in the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The university announced Sunday morning that Derek Dooley will not be returning as head football coach following a 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn Saturday night. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

University of Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart addresses the media regarding the future of the football program at the university in the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The university announced Sunday morning that Derek Dooley will not be returning as head football coach following a 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn Saturday night. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Raw video: Dave Hart press conference on Dooley's firing

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Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart has a pitch for his next football coach: Come work for a school with great tradition, passionate fans and lucrative pay, reviving a storied program that has hit hard times.

Hart dismissed Derek Dooley on Sunday, ending a bleak three-year tenure in which the Vols occupied the bottom of a league that they once ruled. Since 2008, coach Phillip Fulmer's final season, the Vols are 27-34 and 11-28 in the SEC.

Hart said the next football coach will be tasked with leading the program through a critical "crossroads."

"This is a great place, a tremendous place," Hart said. "We have tradition, we have history, we have a brand that is still meaningful. But we have a long way to go to get back to where we need to be."

Hart was frank about the program's challenges: The facilities need work. The department's financial health is weak. The Vols are competing in a conference that is more competitive than ever.

So why, Hart was asked, would a candidate want to come work for a program whose glory days seem so long in the past?

"I don't know that (the job) has lost its luster," Hart said. "We've had five very difficult years. I look at that from a positive perspective. I would view it as a heck of an opportunity. If the support is there — and it is — I would have every level of confidence that I can turn it around."

Hart said UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek was committed to helping the Vols "get back to the top of the pyramid" in athletics.

"This will be a collective effort from a lot of people to have us take our rightful place in the SEC and beyond," Hart said.

Hart said he would conduct the search himself, and probably wouldn't retain an outside consulting firm to screen candidates. Candidates with prior head coaching experience are preferred, he said.

As for rumors that discussions with candidates have already begun, Hart had a forceful response.

"I've contacted no one. I've back-channeled no one. Those conversations have not begun," Hart said.

That hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning.

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, now coach at Duke, told the Charlotte Observer emphatically on Sunday, "I will be coaching at Duke next year."

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley leaves the field after the loss to Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee coach Derek Dooley leaves the field after the loss to Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday.

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported Sunday that Jon Gruden, the former NFL coach and current ESPN Monday Night Football commentator, is mulling a return to coaching and has called prospective staff members "with his focus seeming more on the college game."

Gruden has little college experience, but he was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1986, and met his wife, Cindy, a former UT cheerleader, in Knoxville.

An ESPN spokesperson told SI.com Sunday that "Jon remains committed to ESPN."

The NCAA extended Tennessee's probationary window by two years on Friday after finding major violations committed by Willie Mack Garza, an assistant coach under Lane Kiffin, in 2009. Hart said that reinforces the importance of hiring a coach with a squeaky-clean reputation.

"We want somebody with integrity. We don't have a margin for error," Hart said. "We have to have a culture of compliance."

Hart wouldn't put a firm time frame on the search and told fans to stop worrying that the Vols are being left behind in the race to hire a candidate.

"Some people have a false sense that we're late," Hart said. "We're not. We're fine. I've done this many times. People need to take a deep breath. The door is not closing on our opportunities to find the right person."

Hart didn't think he would scare off any candidates by his frank appraisal of Tennessee's challenges.

"The coaches will do their homework, just as we will do our homework," Hart said. "My pitch to them is that this is a great place, an attractive place to come and be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee and be the person responsible for providing the leadership that takes us back up the hillside."

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

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Comments » 85

dj54 writes:

better do something, this is what happens when you try turn a football school into a basketball school

lknvol writes:

Why are the facilities and financial condition in such bad shape if Hamilton was the wizard with numbers that everyone thought? Maybe it would be a good time for the Trustees to have someone audit the books to see what Hamilton has done. Or maybe they need to hold themselves a little more accountable and take their job a little more seriously. To make this a thorough housecleaning, Cheek has to go as well. He and Hamilton presided over the dismantling of the athletic department and I can't understand why he isn't being held accountable. Hart has his job cut our for him and I hope he's up to the task. I don't think there is an established coach in the country that has any interest in working at Tennessee right now with the situation that it's in unless the pay is exorbitant. That means taking a chance on an up and comer which is risky at best. In that case, Hart better be right. This a very sad state of affairs for the Volunteer nation. Only the most faithful will survive this.

eduardo writes:

GRUDEN!!!!!!

frblalack writes:

In the two most critical games which derailed Coach Dooley's opportunity to return (Kentucky last year and Vandy 2012), Tyler Bray mailed it in. And as goes the "leader", so goes the team. I for one hope the new Coach will start Jason Worley and back-up with Nathan Peterman.

My vote for consideration are Dabo Sweeney or Dan Mullen. The only drawback to Sweeney is he's an Alabama guy...maybe Saban's successor. And I don't know if Mullen would leave State. But both are proven winners. Chris Peterson at Boise is a very fine coach, but I don't know if he could acclimate to the SEC. Just my two cents.

I thought Derek Dooley was a great representative of our school. It's too bad the players bailed on him; he's a fine man and deserved better!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life

VolMoment writes:

in response to lknvol:

Why are the facilities and financial condition in such bad shape if Hamilton was the wizard with numbers that everyone thought? Maybe it would be a good time for the Trustees to have someone audit the books to see what Hamilton has done. Or maybe they need to hold themselves a little more accountable and take their job a little more seriously. To make this a thorough housecleaning, Cheek has to go as well. He and Hamilton presided over the dismantling of the athletic department and I can't understand why he isn't being held accountable. Hart has his job cut our for him and I hope he's up to the task. I don't think there is an established coach in the country that has any interest in working at Tennessee right now with the situation that it's in unless the pay is exorbitant. That means taking a chance on an up and comer which is risky at best. In that case, Hart better be right. This a very sad state of affairs for the Volunteer nation. Only the most faithful will survive this.

My,My! Hart says facalties need upgrading. Is it possible that he is talking about the old outdated concourse and rest rooms from section B to section R. Wait all the other improvements at the stadium was done by Hamilton and he had those mentioned above in the next phase. Get a life and maybe you will live in the real world. Hamilton improved the baseball stadium, a new golf facility and others were started or done under his watch. I will cut this short before your mother catches you on the internet.

OKVOL24 writes:

in response to frblalack:

In the two most critical games which derailed Coach Dooley's opportunity to return (Kentucky last year and Vandy 2012), Tyler Bray mailed it in. And as goes the "leader", so goes the team. I for one hope the new Coach will start Jason Worley and back-up with Nathan Peterman.

My vote for consideration are Dabo Sweeney or Dan Mullen. The only drawback to Sweeney is he's an Alabama guy...maybe Saban's successor. And I don't know if Mullen would leave State. But both are proven winners. Chris Peterson at Boise is a very fine coach, but I don't know if he could acclimate to the SEC. Just my two cents.

I thought Derek Dooley was a great representative of our school. It's too bad the players bailed on him; he's a fine man and deserved better!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life

Justin not "Jason"

EasternKYVOLSFAN writes:

I know most think Dooley needed to go, but everyone is missing what a hand Dooley was dealt. First off firing Fulmer killed recruiting for Tennessee. Then came the Kiffin duo and recruited a little talent and then left us high and dry. Then came Dooley to an unimaginable mess. It hasn't showed on the scoreboard but Dooley has accomplished alot with what he was given stepping into the program. I think Dooley should have been given one more year atleast. Dooley isn't the one on the field playing, he just calls the shots its up to the so called talent we think we have to carry out the coaches calls. So that being said I dont care who UT gets to replace Dooley, we are still going to have basically the same guys out there playing again next year. Its going to be just like 3 years ago another coach giving a press conference about how good were going to be, and I think we are looking at yet another season 5-7 or 6-6, another coaching change is not the answer, maybe the players themselves are as much at fault as Dooley. I have been a tennessee fan all my life and I'm from Southeastern Kentucky, myself I think the blame needs to be equal between dooley and the team, its not dooleys fault the players cant do their jobs. Long story short theres no other coach out there that will do any better than dooley, and if there is and it happens next year I'll make sure I take back everything I've said. GO VOLS !!!!

snafu14u#241639 writes:

I thought we just opened up some state of the art practice and weight room facilities. BonzaiVol

NoSirRee writes:

You get what you pay for. Please don't go for a bargain coach

voodoo101 writes:

"Dave Hart says new coach will have opportunity to revive Tennessee football program"

Where have we heard that before? How about a definition of "opportunity". Is that five minutes, two years, three years, for the duration of the contract? How about staff; who gets to choose those? Penalty free, or are dings OK if you are winning? How do wins and losses enter in to the agreement, and is a loss just a loss no matter the ranking of the opponent? In that case shouldn't the prospective coach get to set the schedule? Why does this look like a long stretch of quicksand out the front door and a minefield out the back door? Based on the school's record for retaining coaches lately, this looks expensive - real expensive - like enough to retire and live very well to a ripe old age after two years on the job. Now about the guarantee that 5 star prospects will be beating down the door so that talent won't ever be a problem.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

From Yahoo.com: "Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a wealthy Volunteers booster whose brother is the governor of Tennessee, has told several people he believes Gruden would be a good fit for Tennessee. Gruden's wife Cindy went to Tennessee.
Sources told CBSSports.com that Gruden is more interested in coaching in the college game than in the NFL and is more serious about a return to coaching now than he has been since being fired by the Bucs in 2008."

We're entering a bidding war with Arkansas, and this is one game we can't afford to lose. Someone get Haslam on the phone and tell him to bring his checkbook!

pcorange writes:

I'm not so worried about the financial health of the department. Yes, we are in poor shape. But, we have endured basically five very, very uncharacteristically bad years in our football program. We have a 102,000 plus seat stadium that is at least 1/3 empty most games. Tennessee apparel is not flying off the shelves any more. Get a coach in here who can win, recruit, and bring hope and excitement back to this fan base and the revenue problem will take care of itself.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

in response to voodoo101:

"Dave Hart says new coach will have opportunity to revive Tennessee football program"

Where have we heard that before? How about a definition of "opportunity". Is that five minutes, two years, three years, for the duration of the contract? How about staff; who gets to choose those? Penalty free, or are dings OK if you are winning? How do wins and losses enter in to the agreement, and is a loss just a loss no matter the ranking of the opponent? In that case shouldn't the prospective coach get to set the schedule? Why does this look like a long stretch of quicksand out the front door and a minefield out the back door? Based on the school's record for retaining coaches lately, this looks expensive - real expensive - like enough to retire and live very well to a ripe old age after two years on the job. Now about the guarantee that 5 star prospects will be beating down the door so that talent won't ever be a problem.

What are you trying to say? I don't know what your point is, except to convey negativity. This firing of Dooley is good news. We're finally addressing the problem and heading towards recovery. We CAN pull a solid coach and I think Hart will do the right thing here. He seems like a smart dude that understands what's at stake.

AZ_Vol writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

What are you trying to say? I don't know what your point is, except to convey negativity. This firing of Dooley is good news. We're finally addressing the problem and heading towards recovery. We CAN pull a solid coach and I think Hart will do the right thing here. He seems like a smart dude that understands what's at stake.

I don't think you know what the problem is at this university.

No. Not by a long-shot.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

in response to pcorange:

I'm not so worried about the financial health of the department. Yes, we are in poor shape. But, we have endured basically five very, very uncharacteristically bad years in our football program. We have a 102,000 plus seat stadium that is at least 1/3 empty most games. Tennessee apparel is not flying off the shelves any more. Get a coach in here who can win, recruit, and bring hope and excitement back to this fan base and the revenue problem will take care of itself.

I was so happy after we beat NC State that I went out and purchased a new UT shirt. I was ready to believe again. The loss to Florida hurt. I'm ready to believe again. I'm ready for that Tennessee pride to return. I want my team to be able to compete against Alabama and Florida again.

pcorange writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

What are you trying to say? I don't know what your point is, except to convey negativity. This firing of Dooley is good news. We're finally addressing the problem and heading towards recovery. We CAN pull a solid coach and I think Hart will do the right thing here. He seems like a smart dude that understands what's at stake.

I agree with you. After carefully watching his press conference today, I concluded that I have been wrong about Hart. He seems like he fully understands the scope of what he is about to do, and the importance of it. Contrary to what some reports have indicated, he did not say that he wouldn't listen to anyone else about who the next coach should be. He did say that we would not be employing the services of a search agency. He also said that there were a group of people who he would work hand in hand with and ask for their advice as he moves through this process. (I know that is not exactly how he worded it, but that was the gist.) I was very impressed with Hart after watching his press conference today. Much better representative of UT than Mike Hamilton.

redskinvol1 writes:

GOT CHUCKY YET??

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to VolMoment:

My,My! Hart says facalties need upgrading. Is it possible that he is talking about the old outdated concourse and rest rooms from section B to section R. Wait all the other improvements at the stadium was done by Hamilton and he had those mentioned above in the next phase. Get a life and maybe you will live in the real world. Hamilton improved the baseball stadium, a new golf facility and others were started or done under his watch. I will cut this short before your mother catches you on the internet.

I'm going to agree, and the overall financial situation is the logical result of the unexpected economic collapse taking place at a time when you're spending to make all the improvements. You start to take on debt at a time when the economy is doing pretty well, then it takes a huge turn for the worse. There are many former homeowners in this country who can relate.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

"Some people have a false sense that we're late," Hart said. "We're not. We're fine. I've done this many times. People need to take a deep breath. The door is not closing on our opportunities to find the right person."

Really? When was the last time you hired a football coach Mr. Hart?

BruisedOrange writes:

"The facilities need work. The department's financial health is weak."

Add to this the national economy heading off a cliff. Not bringing politics in... just a factual part of the financial landscape. If the feds soak the rich with taxes, those deep pocket Vols we've been depending on will be writing those big checks to the IRS instead of UT.

The economy will keep the stadium from filling for years to come. Season ticket sales will suffer regardless of the coach or product. It's gonna be bad for everyone, but especially programs trying to rebuild.

RockyTFrustrated writes:

(Two parts to my post. I have a lot to say and KNS isn't allowing it in one fell swoop so here goes......)

PRT 1

Good guys don't always finish first.

No one has yelled at Dooley & the AD louder than me during these past two seasons. But of those of us clamoring for Dooley's head we must also honestly acknowledge that this seemed like a good guy, or at least his heart seemed in the right place. I believe that constitutes a good guy.

I'm not suddenly offering a different perspective b/c I got my wish and the guilt is overwhelming me. No sir, not that. And that's perhaps the saddest part of all of this.

We're taught to follow rules, respect elders or people in positions of authority, and to take only what we need, not what we want. At least I was.

But what has happened here at my alma mater has saddened me more deeply than I am comfortable with. Dooley's firing is, after all, what a great percentage of us on here wanted. I didn't even watch the Vandy game, hoping they would pull it out and I could be chased back to my TV to watch and give Dooley another game, another year.....

Instead, we were shellacked. The decision had to be made---like I finally had to do with a group of people I grew up calling my family and the only ones whom were left after my father passed away over two years ago. On Sept 11th, of all dates. The decision was the result of a painful, excruciating journey. I felt betrayed, let down, angry that they didn't seem to care enough when I needed them most, the months following after my father was placed in the ground.

I draw this parallel not to say that the collapse of my university's football program is on par with that tragedy. No sir, not that. I'm merely pointing out that in the aftermath, when I needed family, they were not there. Oh, there were people who cared for me, gave me the slight TLC I needed. But why didn't my family? Where were they? Why did they react this way to my loss?

With Dooley's firing this morning, I am saddened that it had to be this way, that it had to end this way. Someone whose heart was seemingly in the right place had to suffer this loss when so many selfish people blast through life with praise and acclaim.

I never believed I would sit here and type this out to you but I am. Because I feel not so euphoric as maybe I'd hoped for.

RockyTFrustrated writes:

PRT 2

In conclusion, let's hope that our Vol family pulls together, respects the departing of Dooley and accepts his successor with the grace, patience and zeal that they will need of us. Maybe the lessons of the last three years will bring about some changes in how we act going forward.

Let's do what we have to do to be there for each other, to pull together when maybe we haven't done that so much this year. It's been a sad day, and the emptiness that's hard to describe or explain has gripped me. Maybe when we go 10-2 some year I will forget this feeling, convince myself that he needed to go, I got what I wanted. But hopefully, I won't. Hopefully, you won't, either.

And yet I will rise tomorrow with the conviction that family will be there. OUR family. YOU and ME. And if I can ask a favor of my family, turn out for the Seniors next Saturday. I can't be there but I'll make a gut call here and say you will. You won't let me down like THAT family did.

It's what good family would do.

It's what a good guy would do.

HeyWhitey writes:

Kirby Smart

rainbow6 writes:

Hart doesn't have a clue as to what it will take to restore Tennessee football to where it was.
Hind sight would indicate that Hamilton screwed up when he let Fulmer go. Dooley had the football name but that is it. He is not a football coach. How he was picked has been a mystery since the first day.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

in response to RockyTFrustrated:

(Two parts to my post. I have a lot to say and KNS isn't allowing it in one fell swoop so here goes......)

PRT 1

Good guys don't always finish first.

No one has yelled at Dooley & the AD louder than me during these past two seasons. But of those of us clamoring for Dooley's head we must also honestly acknowledge that this seemed like a good guy, or at least his heart seemed in the right place. I believe that constitutes a good guy.

I'm not suddenly offering a different perspective b/c I got my wish and the guilt is overwhelming me. No sir, not that. And that's perhaps the saddest part of all of this.

We're taught to follow rules, respect elders or people in positions of authority, and to take only what we need, not what we want. At least I was.

But what has happened here at my alma mater has saddened me more deeply than I am comfortable with. Dooley's firing is, after all, what a great percentage of us on here wanted. I didn't even watch the Vandy game, hoping they would pull it out and I could be chased back to my TV to watch and give Dooley another game, another year.....

Instead, we were shellacked. The decision had to be made---like I finally had to do with a group of people I grew up calling my family and the only ones whom were left after my father passed away over two years ago. On Sept 11th, of all dates. The decision was the result of a painful, excruciating journey. I felt betrayed, let down, angry that they didn't seem to care enough when I needed them most, the months following after my father was placed in the ground.

I draw this parallel not to say that the collapse of my university's football program is on par with that tragedy. No sir, not that. I'm merely pointing out that in the aftermath, when I needed family, they were not there. Oh, there were people who cared for me, gave me the slight TLC I needed. But why didn't my family? Where were they? Why did they react this way to my loss?

With Dooley's firing this morning, I am saddened that it had to be this way, that it had to end this way. Someone whose heart was seemingly in the right place had to suffer this loss when so many selfish people blast through life with praise and acclaim.

I never believed I would sit here and type this out to you but I am. Because I feel not so euphoric as maybe I'd hoped for.

Let me make it easier for you. Dooley is still a rich man after being fired. I bet if you were fired...not so much.

signalcorps writes:

all good coach's coming in have to clean house of the rotton apples that go's for bray for sure he would be the first,, it would do this team some good(how would you like it your doing what's right others getting into trouble and getting away with it,, your not going to care)Bray and others like him has to go,,sometimes you have to take one step back to go two steps forward it's same as life ,,this has to be done if the coachs to get control and stay in control,,we have to remember these players look play like adults they are not they're just kids 18,19,21,22yrs old kids ,,,coaching 101 GO VOLS

signalcorps writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

Let me make it easier for you. Dooley is still a rich man after being fired. I bet if you were fired...not so much.

aman brother ,,I could retire just on the interest dooley's to be paid...sorry for big time coachs being fired,,,not

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to frblalack:

In the two most critical games which derailed Coach Dooley's opportunity to return (Kentucky last year and Vandy 2012), Tyler Bray mailed it in. And as goes the "leader", so goes the team. I for one hope the new Coach will start Jason Worley and back-up with Nathan Peterman.

My vote for consideration are Dabo Sweeney or Dan Mullen. The only drawback to Sweeney is he's an Alabama guy...maybe Saban's successor. And I don't know if Mullen would leave State. But both are proven winners. Chris Peterson at Boise is a very fine coach, but I don't know if he could acclimate to the SEC. Just my two cents.

I thought Derek Dooley was a great representative of our school. It's too bad the players bailed on him; he's a fine man and deserved better!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life

I'm with you on Mullen. If a coach can win at State, he can win anywhere!

Rusty356 writes:

OK .... Here's something I copied off of the FSU website that was written in 2005. I still think that Mark McHale is the BEST choice for Head Coach because:
a) Has the right stuff to be UT's Head Football Coach.
b) He'd take the job if it was offered to him (this I'm sure of)
c) He would be able to get Brett Farve to come with him (this I'm not sure of)... and then see who lines-up to be a VOL QB!

Feb. 1, 2005

Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden announced Tuesday the hiring of Mark McHale as offensive line coach for the Seminoles. McHale was assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Marshall for the past three seasons. He has been promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator at three different schools during his career.

"Mark (McHale) is exactly what I was looking for in an offensive line coach," said Bobby Bowden. "His maturity and experience will be a great addition to our staff. He's an excellent recruiter and I think the chemistry will be good on the staff.

"Marshall's offenses have been so successful and they've put a number of offensive linemen into professional football, as well as quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. I've followed Mark's progress since he was a graduate assistant at West Virginia. He coached Southern Miss' offensive line when they beat us in Jacksonville, and I've watched his success down through the years. I know how much Bob (Marshall head coach Bob Pruett) thinks of him and that says a lot."

vfl76 writes:

We will see how much Dooley loves Tennessee. Will he stay here if he doesn't get another job? Pearl did!

Rusty356 writes:

MARK McHALE info continued:

McHale, 54, joined the Marshall staff in 2000 as the offensive line coach and served in that capacity for two seasons before being elevated to Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator prior to the 2002 season. Marshall ranked among the nation's top three in total offense in 2001 and 2002, and ranked third nationally in passing offense in both those seasons. The Thundering Herd ranked 18th nationally in total offense in 2003.

"It's an honor to be working with a legend like Bobby Bowden," said McHale. "I'm looking forward to working with a great coaching staff here and to have an opportunity to be affiliated with a program that can win the national championship each year."

McHale played offensive line at Shepherd College before graduating in 1973. He earned a master's degree from West Virginia in 1975 while serving as a graduate assistant on the football staff. He was named offensive coordinator at Shepherd College in 1975 and coached there until leaving to coach the offensive line at Appalachian State in 1980. McHale then served as Appalachian State's offensive coordinator in 1984 and 1985.

Following his stint at Appalachian State, McHale served as the offensive line coach at East Carolina and Southern Mississipppi. He was promoted to offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi in 1989 and served in that capacity through the 1991 season. McHale then worked as the offensive line coach for seven different teams (Montreal Machine of the WLAF, South Carolina, Shreveport Pirates of the CFL, Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF, Amsterdam Admirals of the WLAF, Southern Mississippi and Louisville). He was the head coach at Warren County High School from 1998-99 before moving on to Marshall in 2000.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich played at Marshall under McHale. "He's a great guy," said Leftwich. "He knows the game of football. He was great with the offensive line. He was great with coming up with game plans and in the running game. He understood fronts and what defenses were trying to do to attack us. A lot of what I learned, I learned from him. I was able to pick his mind. He was the guy who recruited Brett Favre (for Southern Mississippi). He understands how the game should be played from an offensive standpoint."

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to HeyWhitey:

Kirby Smart

No!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Evan really went out on a limb with this article..A new coach could completely bury the program as well. Pay Gruden and be done with it. GBO!

dvhill100 writes:

Just get the hire right, don't much care who it is so long as it works out. We are on strike two on head football coaches. Strike three would really kill us.

ronburgundy (Inactive) writes:

Dooley cost the athetic department right at $11,7000,000.00 in three years including the $500,000.00 to but out his old contract at La. Tech. Hope they do a better job doing the math this time around and not just throw the dice against the wall. Coming up snake eyes can cost the fans big time.

Rusty356 writes:

The problem (as I see it) is that (recently) UT just wants to hire Head Coaches who the fans would feel comfortable playing golf with. Experience(which ONLY comes with time) and someone who can actually identify with a REAL "football player" is not even on the radar screen when looking for someone to fill the Head Coaching position. UT wants Mr. GQ first ..... and a great coach last. The problem with that thinking shows-up in the locker room at half-time.

No game has ever been won in the first two periods, but plenty of games (especially at UT) have been lost in the second two periods. As a running back on a HS team that went on to win the first VA State Championship (remember the Titans), I realize that there is probably no more important time in a coaches career than half-time in the locker room. THAT is where the Head Coach wins and loses games.

Mark McHale would DEFINITELY be a Head Coach that win games in the locker room at half-time, because he's been there and done that more times than you can shake a stick at (more times than Kiffin, Dooley, Fulmer and Gruden combined anyway).

Rusty356 writes:

in response to vfl76:

We will see how much Dooley loves Tennessee. Will he stay here if he doesn't get another job? Pearl did!

Yeah. Maybe he'll stay here and buy the dissapointed UT Fans Season Tickets until his 5 Million Dollar golden parachute runs out ... but I doubt it. He'll probably use his law degree to get a Jerry Maguire type job in Atlanta.

IdahoVol writes:

in response to vfl76:

We will see how much Dooley loves Tennessee. Will he stay here if he doesn't get another job? Pearl did!

While a much smaller group was calling for Pearl to leave, many still wanted him to stay. If I were Dooley, given all the phooey that has been thrown at him from our "fans", I would already be out of town with my family.
While I don't disagree with the firing, he definitely deserved to be treated better than he was. (relax - I'm know he gets a nice payout.) He always handled things with class and much of our fan base responded with anything but. In my opinion, having several coaches bail and then the Sunseri hire were the things that cost him his job. The program is much better off than when he got here and the next coach has the chance for success quickly. Dooley will deserve some of the credit for bringing in some pretty good players that also seem to be good kids -not easy these days. Yes a couple got in trouble, but most of the players seem to be good kids.

IdahoVol writes:

Regarding Gruden, last week 104.5 in Nashville reported that Gruden has been contacting potential staff for a return to coaching, either college or NFL.
What caught my eye was that the first name mentioned was Ron Zook. For those of you younger fans, ask about "fax gate". If Gruden insists on Zook being part of his staff that could create an issue, as Zook is not too far below Kiffin in many people's eyes.

drwut70 writes:

in response to IdahoVol:

While a much smaller group was calling for Pearl to leave, many still wanted him to stay. If I were Dooley, given all the phooey that has been thrown at him from our "fans", I would already be out of town with my family.
While I don't disagree with the firing, he definitely deserved to be treated better than he was. (relax - I'm know he gets a nice payout.) He always handled things with class and much of our fan base responded with anything but. In my opinion, having several coaches bail and then the Sunseri hire were the things that cost him his job. The program is much better off than when he got here and the next coach has the chance for success quickly. Dooley will deserve some of the credit for bringing in some pretty good players that also seem to be good kids -not easy these days. Yes a couple got in trouble, but most of the players seem to be good kids.

I agree with your observations Idaho. As a military vet I would not want to be in a fox hole with the majority of the "Vols Fans' On this site.

volsgirl writes:

I want to THANK YOU coach Dooley for his time here, my prayer go out to him and his family.I'm pray for mr Hart make right choice for UT ......Go Vols

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

From what I've seen I wouldn't look much farther the NFL for the next HC and it doesn't have to be Gruden..Greg Roman of the 49ers would be a great hire..This guys got Creds coming and going..Wouldn't take him long to straighten out Bray and a few others.DelRio would work well to..Either one would instantly perk up recruiting and these guys make Smart or Strong look like HS coaches in comparison

leprechaun writes:

Gruden would be a disastrous hire!

If you look at his record in the NFL, he basically benefitted off of his predecessors, then he ran his teams into the ground.

There is no evidence that Gruden could build a successful SEC football program, however, it would be funny to continue to watch the Vols be the punching bag of the SEC East!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to drwut70:

I agree with your observations Idaho. As a military vet I would not want to be in a fox hole with the majority of the "Vols Fans' On this site.

Don't worry...we could go 11-1 next year, and they'll still want the new guy fired.

underthehill writes:

in response to Rusty356:

Yeah. Maybe he'll stay here and buy the dissapointed UT Fans Season Tickets until his 5 Million Dollar golden parachute runs out ... but I doubt it. He'll probably use his law degree to get a Jerry Maguire type job in Atlanta.

The thought crossed my mind that Dooley could end up at Georgia State if my thinking is right that their coach is resigning this year..it would be good for Dooley and UT..anyway ..I certainly wish Dooley all the best although I feel 100% sure it was best for UT to give him his buyout...

Razzle writes:

in response to Rusty356:

The problem (as I see it) is that (recently) UT just wants to hire Head Coaches who the fans would feel comfortable playing golf with. Experience(which ONLY comes with time) and someone who can actually identify with a REAL "football player" is not even on the radar screen when looking for someone to fill the Head Coaching position. UT wants Mr. GQ first ..... and a great coach last. The problem with that thinking shows-up in the locker room at half-time.

No game has ever been won in the first two periods, but plenty of games (especially at UT) have been lost in the second two periods. As a running back on a HS team that went on to win the first VA State Championship (remember the Titans), I realize that there is probably no more important time in a coaches career than half-time in the locker room. THAT is where the Head Coach wins and loses games.

Mark McHale would DEFINITELY be a Head Coach that win games in the locker room at half-time, because he's been there and done that more times than you can shake a stick at (more times than Kiffin, Dooley, Fulmer and Gruden combined anyway).

Has he ever been a head coach in college football? Is he a high school coach somewhere in Mississippi? Get real.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Rusty356:

MARK McHALE info continued:

McHale, 54, joined the Marshall staff in 2000 as the offensive line coach and served in that capacity for two seasons before being elevated to Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator prior to the 2002 season. Marshall ranked among the nation's top three in total offense in 2001 and 2002, and ranked third nationally in passing offense in both those seasons. The Thundering Herd ranked 18th nationally in total offense in 2003.

"It's an honor to be working with a legend like Bobby Bowden," said McHale. "I'm looking forward to working with a great coaching staff here and to have an opportunity to be affiliated with a program that can win the national championship each year."

McHale played offensive line at Shepherd College before graduating in 1973. He earned a master's degree from West Virginia in 1975 while serving as a graduate assistant on the football staff. He was named offensive coordinator at Shepherd College in 1975 and coached there until leaving to coach the offensive line at Appalachian State in 1980. McHale then served as Appalachian State's offensive coordinator in 1984 and 1985.

Following his stint at Appalachian State, McHale served as the offensive line coach at East Carolina and Southern Mississipppi. He was promoted to offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi in 1989 and served in that capacity through the 1991 season. McHale then worked as the offensive line coach for seven different teams (Montreal Machine of the WLAF, South Carolina, Shreveport Pirates of the CFL, Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF, Amsterdam Admirals of the WLAF, Southern Mississippi and Louisville). He was the head coach at Warren County High School from 1998-99 before moving on to Marshall in 2000.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich played at Marshall under McHale. "He's a great guy," said Leftwich. "He knows the game of football. He was great with the offensive line. He was great with coming up with game plans and in the running game. He understood fronts and what defenses were trying to do to attack us. A lot of what I learned, I learned from him. I was able to pick his mind. He was the guy who recruited Brett Favre (for Southern Mississippi). He understands how the game should be played from an offensive standpoint."

This guy seems like a decent enough fellow and it would be fun to have a Vols McHale's Navy, but that's where my interest ends.

Do the math, he graduated from college in 1973 so that makes him at least 61-years old and his only stint as a head coach was on the high school level. McHale is not the guy. Hart all but said one of the requirements for the job is experience as a head coach (read into it as NCAA Division I or NFL).

The FSU connection I'd like is current Seminole coach Jimbo Fisher.

Razzle writes:

in response to FWBVol:

This guy seems like a decent enough fellow and it would be fun to have a Vols McHale's Navy, but that's where my interest ends.

Do the math, he graduated from college in 1973 so that makes him at least 61-years old and his only stint as a head coach was on the high school level. McHale is not the guy. Hart all but said one of the requirements for the job is experience as a head coach (read into it as NCAA Division I or NFL).

The FSU connection I'd like is current Seminole coach Jimbo Fisher.

I agree on Fisher, think he would be great if UT could talk him into going to Knoxville.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to lknvol:

Why are the facilities and financial condition in such bad shape if Hamilton was the wizard with numbers that everyone thought? Maybe it would be a good time for the Trustees to have someone audit the books to see what Hamilton has done. Or maybe they need to hold themselves a little more accountable and take their job a little more seriously. To make this a thorough housecleaning, Cheek has to go as well. He and Hamilton presided over the dismantling of the athletic department and I can't understand why he isn't being held accountable. Hart has his job cut our for him and I hope he's up to the task. I don't think there is an established coach in the country that has any interest in working at Tennessee right now with the situation that it's in unless the pay is exorbitant. That means taking a chance on an up and comer which is risky at best. In that case, Hart better be right. This a very sad state of affairs for the Volunteer nation. Only the most faithful will survive this.

I think Hamilton WAS a wizard with numbers given his circumstances. An article in KNS a several days ago stated that our athletic department is the only one in the SEC still giving money to the academic side of the university. Apparently this was common practice in days past but all our other brethren abandoned it long ago. Last year they claimed the transfer was around $18 million. If that's true, and if it's been going on for years, it's no wonder we have no reserve fund. It would also explain why every improvement in the athletic facilities takes forever to get started and is accompanied by letters to alumni for additional donations for said project. It would also explain why Hammy continued to look for coaching bargains. Instead of settling for the way things have always been, like Hammy, Hart has been trying to get that changed and from the content and tone of his recent comments it seems maybe he has.

As far as no established coach wanting the job, that's a tad alarmist. With Justin Wilcox's average-by-SEC-standards defense from last year we would be at least 8-3 right now with a Kentucky win and NYD bowl game awaiting. Dooley's bad call to hire Sunseri to stubbornly run a 3-4, despite the fact we didn't have the proper personnel, has been the downfall of this season and [rightfully so] his coaching career at UT. If I can see that I'm certain a well-established coach can too. Exorbitant pay is a given for any SEC coach and in our situation Hart may have to start the bidding at exorbitant. However, about 7 years ago Bama was in a similar spot and Mal Moore found his guy and told him to fill in the number on a blank check....Hart will need to do the same. Hiring a coordinator or a HC with little experience and/or a losing record (think Dooley, Chizik, Dinardo, Zook) is too risky, and will likely bring us several more years of misery. To quote an old Fram commercial, "You can pay me now or pay me later". I say pay now, I'm tired of looking up at the rest of the SEC. Go Vols!!!

VolsUpsetYetAnother writes:

Dear Mr Hart - as you sit your coffee down and pull up to your desk to research coaches to target. I wanted to help you save time in letting you know in the event you are targeting the WAC again; Seattle University does NOT have a football team! Go get em Tiger!! Go Vols!!!

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