Dave Hart: Vols 'at a crossroads'

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

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)

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley watches play against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley watches play against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

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Only a few sleepless hours had passed since an embarrassing loss at Vanderbilt University in Nashville cemented his third consecutive losing season when University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley sat down for a meeting with his boss.

He knew what was coming.

Dooley was relieved of his duties Sunday morning, ending his three-year tenure with a 15-21 overall record and a 4-19 mark in the SEC.

“He handled it as you would expect — in a very mature, respectful and appreciative manner,” said UT athletic director Dave Hart said during a Sunday news conference at Neyland Stadium.

Dooley chose to go ahead with his weekly coach’s television program, where his grim commentary on the game was juxtaposed with the breaking news about his firing crawling along the bottom of the screen.

Dooley declined the opportunity to coach the final game of the season against the University of Kentucky on Saturday, saying he didn’t want his presence to be a distraction to the players. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will serve as interim coach.

Dooleyisms: Memorable sayings from former UT head coach Derek Dooley

Related: Stories, photos and videos from Derek Dooley's time at Tennessee

Hart said Dooley, 44, left the program in better shape than it was three years ago when he replaced Lane Kiffin, who bolted for the University of Southern California after one season in Knoxville.

“Derek Dooley did indeed improve this football program. There’s no question about that,” Hart said. “He was given a pretty short stick to take into battle.”

Hart said he would begin a search for the program’s next coach immediately, focusing on candidates with head coaching experience who understood the difficulty of competing in the cutthroat Southeastern Conference.

Dooley’s tenure was marked by close losses in big games and humbling defeats to programs that the Vols used to routinely beat.

UT was expected to be significantly improved this year but faltered in the second half against Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Dooley finished his tenure 0-15 against opponents ranked in the Top 25.

After a last-second loss at South Carolina on Oct. 27, Dooley dubbed the final four games “the second season,” and many believed he could save his job with a 4-0 finish.

But the Vols allowed 721 yards of total offense in a last-second victory against Troy University, squandered a big lead in a loss to the University of Missouri and then were embarrassed Saturday at Vanderbilt, 41-18.

The Vols dropped to 0-7 in the SEC for the first time in school history, losing to Vanderbilt in Nashville for the first time since 1982.

“I am sorry we could not generate enough wins to create hope for a brighter future,” Dooley in a statement released by the university on Sunday. “Although progress was not reflected in our record, I am proud of the strides we made to strengthen the foundation for future success in all areas of the program.

“During the last 34 months, I’ve given my all for Tennessee, and our family appreciates all this university and the Knoxville community has given us.”

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

Hart, who is searching for UT’s fourth head coach in six years, said he wanted to give Dooley every opportunity to succeed before embarking on a change.

“This is not what I wanted, and this is not what we needed relative to stability,” Hart said.

Even so, Hart said that Dooley, the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, understood his fate. Hart’s late father also was a college football coach and athletic director.

“Derek grew up in this business, as did I,” Hart said. “This is a results-based profession and you cannot ignore the results at the end of the day.”

Dooley is owed $5 million as part of a buyout to be paid monthly over the next four years. Eight assistant coaches are working under multiyear contracts and could cost between $645,000 and $4.3 million if they are not retained by the new head coach.

“Yes, coaches are paid well,” Hart said. “But they’re human beings with spouses and kids. It’s tough. Today’s a tough day.”

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

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Comments » 114

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say no more cheapies. Witch Doctor say we gotta pay the piper this time. Witch Doctor say best wishes Dooley but you couldnt win. Witch Doctor say no need to hate..move on. Witch Doctor say pay up and find a big name coach.
Bones never lie.

Orangeblood64 writes:

Steal Jim Mora from UCLA. lol

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

Hart is correct to give Coach Dooley his props and to tell the truth about the mess he inherited. I think most everyone agrees he improved the sad state of affairs in Knoxville at the time.

That said...it might be a sad day day, but monthly checks of $100-grand sure can ease the sting.

As usual, the Witch Doctor is correct. Don't mess this one up. There's too much at stake.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

I, for one, am grateful for the time and effort coach Dooley has put in, and I wish him well. He has always been a class act.

Let's hire a great coach and bring our program back to where it needs to be. The cupboard is not bare, thanks to the recruiting of coach Dooley and Jay Graham. A great coach, a big name coach, can do wonders here.

Go Vols!

laraccoon writes:

in response to Orangeblood64:

Steal Jim Mora from UCLA. lol

i doubt he would leave UCLA for Tennessee but he is a darn good coach , that was a great game yesterday . Well coached team .

GloryDays writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say no more cheapies. Witch Doctor say we gotta pay the piper this time. Witch Doctor say best wishes Dooley but you couldnt win. Witch Doctor say no need to hate..move on. Witch Doctor say pay up and find a big name coach.
Bones never lie.

Where have you been? Vol nation has crumbled and not heard your common sense rants?

GloryDays writes:

I am surprised that Hart said he hadn't contacted anyone dircetly or indirectly? The dooley ship has been sinking for some time, especially after loss to Kentucky, I wuould think a good AD would have a list and be talking behind the scenes. Hope Mr Hart knows what he is doing?

utfan36 writes:

new he was fired when i watched the CDD show he didnt have NO orange on, no POWER T, and told bob and crew good by and shook hands glad he is gone!hart make this the best hire of your life because if you dont well (hamilton)

jimr07 writes:

Dear Dave:
If you want to know who to hire, check here frequently. You will be surprised at all the self-appointed know-it-alls that posts on here.

dvols writes:

I just want the beer barrel back......!

Classof72 writes:

'"We have tradition, history and a brand that's still meaningful. But we have a long way to go,” he said.'

If he means that, then, when the Vols play in the State of Tennessee, the Pride of the Southland Band must be there. That means Memphis. That's how to show the brand identity, the tradition, the history. It isn't enough to talk the talk. UT must walk the walk. The campus of the university is the State of Tennessee. Act like it.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

The crossroad started during the Kentucky game last year. Now that Dooley has been dismissed Hart knows he has to make this hire right. Just saw on another board discussions of Fulmer being brought back. Seriously? Folks there's a reason he has not been hired since his dismissal. We look foolish even discussing his return.

OwensboroVol writes:

I seen on ESPN last week where one of their writers wrote that Tennessee would be one of the easiest programs to turn around.

BeRealistic writes:

Best wishes DD. I'm sure you did you're best. UT has to have a better experienced HC that can lead this program back to championship level. It will take ? years. We have to start now on our recruiting season.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to GloryDays:

I am surprised that Hart said he hadn't contacted anyone dircetly or indirectly? The dooley ship has been sinking for some time, especially after loss to Kentucky, I wuould think a good AD would have a list and be talking behind the scenes. Hope Mr Hart knows what he is doing?

Maybe Hart is lying or maybe he has ethics. Remember that Auburn/Tuberville/Petrino fiasco many years ago?

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

You hate to see bad things happen to good people but it has been clear for sometime that Dooley was in way over his head. Now let's go after someone who can not only coach and motivate but also can recruit

SteelerNation writes:

in response to Classof72:

'"We have tradition, history and a brand that's still meaningful. But we have a long way to go,” he said.'

If he means that, then, when the Vols play in the State of Tennessee, the Pride of the Southland Band must be there. That means Memphis. That's how to show the brand identity, the tradition, the history. It isn't enough to talk the talk. UT must walk the walk. The campus of the university is the State of Tennessee. Act like it.

Your right ...the band is the reason for our demise. All will be better if the band is present in Memphis. I have officially heard it all now.

GloryDays writes:

Anything is better than Dooley.

Hire Fulmer as coach
Tropper Taylor as OC
Chief at DC
Tee Martin at WR coach
Jay Graham at RB coach
Sam Pittman at OL coach
Dale Jones at LB coach
Al Wilson to personally take care of discipline problems.

IF FULMER IS SURROUNDED BY GOOD PEOPLE HE WOULD DO A GOOD JOB.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say no more cheapies. Witch Doctor say we gotta pay the piper this time. Witch Doctor say best wishes Dooley but you couldnt win. Witch Doctor say no need to hate..move on. Witch Doctor say pay up and find a big name coach.
Bones never lie.

Good point, WD..UT needs to pay up and never try to save money on a fb hire especially when fb is the biggest money maker at your university.

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to TheRealDragonSlayer:

I, for one, am grateful for the time and effort coach Dooley has put in, and I wish him well. He has always been a class act.

Let's hire a great coach and bring our program back to where it needs to be. The cupboard is not bare, thanks to the recruiting of coach Dooley and Jay Graham. A great coach, a big name coach, can do wonders here.

Go Vols!

Well said Dragon Slayer. Dooley found himself in a very tough situation and he improved it. Thanks to coach Dooley for his efforts and I wish him all the best with his still young career.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to laraccoon:

i doubt he would leave UCLA for Tennessee but he is a darn good coach , that was a great game yesterday . Well coached team .

His goal is to the SEC but Tennessee we dont know.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to jimr07:

Dear Dave:
If you want to know who to hire, check here frequently. You will be surprised at all the self-appointed know-it-alls that posts on here.

LOL, + 1

VolzsFan writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Anything is better than Dooley.

Hire Fulmer as coach
Tropper Taylor as OC
Chief at DC
Tee Martin at WR coach
Jay Graham at RB coach
Sam Pittman at OL coach
Dale Jones at LB coach
Al Wilson to personally take care of discipline problems.

IF FULMER IS SURROUNDED BY GOOD PEOPLE HE WOULD DO A GOOD JOB.

He is a Hall of Famer that has been the most successful coach in UT history and one of the most successful in college football history. He would do a great job. His resume dwarfs anyone on the list. I hope he would not do it just to continue sticking the knife in these UT idiots for years to come.

Stooley_Dinks writes:

in response to GloryDays:

I am surprised that Hart said he hadn't contacted anyone dircetly or indirectly? The dooley ship has been sinking for some time, especially after loss to Kentucky, I wuould think a good AD would have a list and be talking behind the scenes. Hope Mr Hart knows what he is doing?

He is just maintaining Plausable Deniability. It is his job to manage head coaches. And this isn't his first rodeo. But, in a job like his you choose your words carefully, rarely confirm or deny, never communicate personally via email, and keep all of these type discussions off the record. To quote Sen Thompson in Red October, "Russians don't take a dump without a backup plan". He has had discussions with people around him.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Anything is better than Dooley.

Hire Fulmer as coach
Tropper Taylor as OC
Chief at DC
Tee Martin at WR coach
Jay Graham at RB coach
Sam Pittman at OL coach
Dale Jones at LB coach
Al Wilson to personally take care of discipline problems.

IF FULMER IS SURROUNDED BY GOOD PEOPLE HE WOULD DO A GOOD JOB.

What is your obsession with Trooper Taylor and Tee Martin? Both are looking terrible this year, and have done nothing to warrant a hiring.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point, WD..UT needs to pay up and never try to save money on a fb hire especially when fb is the biggest money maker at your university.

My opinion is the front men,,,Peyton and a handful of big money boosters have the man. Hart did not lie when he said his search begins today. Gruden to Tennessee.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to GloryDays:

I am surprised that Hart said he hadn't contacted anyone dircetly or indirectly? The dooley ship has been sinking for some time, especially after loss to Kentucky, I wuould think a good AD would have a list and be talking behind the scenes. Hope Mr Hart knows what he is doing?

Dude, wake up. They cannot be truthful on everything nor should they be. Of course he has contacted several via back channels. That is how it is done. But to tell the masses that who do not know how things work just causes more discussion. Just let it go and sit back and watch.

jjsteel writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say no more cheapies. Witch Doctor say we gotta pay the piper this time. Witch Doctor say best wishes Dooley but you couldnt win. Witch Doctor say no need to hate..move on. Witch Doctor say pay up and find a big name coach.
Bones never lie.

I'm with ya on this one.
"Call the man and pay his price"

dvol writes:

D.D. is a class act and deserves credit for stopping the bleeding. I have always thought that he would make a great A.D. He just didn't have what it took to be a head coach at Tennessee. We can hire Petrino a proven coach and take the flak for it now or have to face him at some other SEC school for years to come. He has proven he can win and there is no one out there even Gruden that would do a better job. So, forgive and hire this guy or we will be here again in 4 years.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

My opinion is the front men,,,Peyton and a handful of big money boosters have the man. Hart did not lie when he said his search begins today. Gruden to Tennessee.

Yeah, I heard that 2 weeks ago from one of Haslam's old teammates from the 51' UT squad. I hope Hart doesn't step in and veto this move.

Classof72 writes:

in response to SteelerNation:

Your right ...the band is the reason for our demise. All will be better if the band is present in Memphis. I have officially heard it all now.

The absence of the band at the last Memphis game is not the illness; it's a symptom. Failing to make the best possible impression in the state makes a difference. Of the four top recruits in state this year, only one is planning to go to UT. All the supposed little things add up. For example, it's important that UTAD gets outdoor practice fields added near the new football facility. Recruits see all these things. They matter.

vols_fan_n_tx writes:

Need a big name coach who knows the X's and O's and a big personality to improve recruiting. Gruden has both. Time to open up the bank account. It will cost UT much more to make the wrong choice again.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to Stooley_Dinks:

He is just maintaining Plausable Deniability. It is his job to manage head coaches. And this isn't his first rodeo. But, in a job like his you choose your words carefully, rarely confirm or deny, never communicate personally via email, and keep all of these type discussions off the record. To quote Sen Thompson in Red October, "Russians don't take a dump without a backup plan". He has had discussions with people around him.

Agree. Which would likely explain why he has not hired a search firm... he has candidates already in mind and has probably initiated contact.

Stooley_Dinks writes:

in response to GloryDays:

Anything is better than Dooley.

Hire Fulmer as coach
Tropper Taylor as OC
Chief at DC
Tee Martin at WR coach
Jay Graham at RB coach
Sam Pittman at OL coach
Dale Jones at LB coach
Al Wilson to personally take care of discipline problems.

IF FULMER IS SURROUNDED BY GOOD PEOPLE HE WOULD DO A GOOD JOB.

Here's what I have to say about that. I don't see it happening. If it did, the fan base would be split again. But, we would be a better football program than the past few years. I would not be upset, but I do believe we need a new beginning and a hire the vast majority of fans support. There is a lot of fan apathy right now.

BxVol writes:

in response to laraccoon:

i doubt he would leave UCLA for Tennessee but he is a darn good coach , that was a great game yesterday . Well coached team .

If I remember correctly Mora did not endear himself to the Falcons when he said his dream job was at a West Coast school,(not UCLA).Tennessee does not need a Kiffin repeat.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Yeah, I heard that 2 weeks ago from one of Haslam's old teammates from the 51' UT squad. I hope Hart doesn't step in and veto this move.

me 2...just got to be patient into December to see

Stooley_Dinks writes:

in response to FearTheVols1252:

Agree. Which would likely explain why he has not hired a search firm... he has candidates already in mind and has probably initiated contact.

I seriously believe he began a short list after KY last year. Whether he knew he would need it or hoped he wouldn't, who knows.

But, if he really woke up this morning with no idea of who he wanted, it would be like an Emergency Room that had no O+ blood in the fridge.

VolGrad writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say no more cheapies. Witch Doctor say we gotta pay the piper this time. Witch Doctor say best wishes Dooley but you couldnt win. Witch Doctor say no need to hate..move on. Witch Doctor say pay up and find a big name coach.
Bones never lie.

Second that.

movol77 writes:

It will be Gruden.

tlstrock#313022 writes:

I hope UT/Hart will consider John Chavis. I really respect him, and as a UT alum, would be proud to have him as our head coach.

On a side note, I thank Dooley, his staff and his family for coming to UT. In a time when UT athletics was becoming the brunt of many "water cooler" jokes, he (and Coach Martin) brought stability and a small sense of pride back to its alumnae. I never worried about his actions because he is a man of high values and did not display a "win at all costs" mentality. Best of luck to you and your family, Coach Dooley.

redskinvol1 writes:

PAY CHUCKY WHATEVER HE WANTS!!GO VOLS!!

jkleno#393970 writes:

8/$80 for BOB STOOPS
Big 12 is a joke and he is ready to come back to the SEC

RockVegas writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

What is your obsession with Trooper Taylor and Tee Martin? Both are looking terrible this year, and have done nothing to warrant a hiring.

They couldn't be any worse than these other clowns U.T has been taking a chances on.Big Phil should have promoted T.Taylor and he would have never lost his job.As for Tee,he has never been offered a job or nothing else from Tennessee and he won a Title.Tennessee politics as usuall,that's why we stink now.If it's anybody that knows how to win at Tennessee it's got to be T.Martin. I would think,find me a coach,that can win,and recruit.Bye-Bye Fooley,don't spend all that money in one place....GBO.

DennisVols writes:

Opportunities present themselves as a future. Make the right choice when given the opportunity and success will come your way. Make the wrong choice and it may take years to regain just to where you were when you had that opportunity.
Dooley did some good things at UT for the football program. He has recruited some good talent, stabilized the program and made the off field issues minor in comparison to what they were during Fulmer’s final couple of years and Kiffin’s one and done.
I wish Dooley well and hope the true Vol fans will handle this with class and not pile on with useless dribble.
Hart needs to be through with this search and make sure that the person to lead this program is a winner not just on the field of football but in life. There is no need to settle or lower your standards to fill this position. The leadership needs to be both on and off the field. The kids that choose to come to UT deserve the best of both. While winning is important to all on the field, most of those who choose to play ball here will need to learn how to win off the field in a career that in most cases will not be at the NFL. Discipline off the field will lead to discipline on the field.
We do not need a coach that is waiting on another offer be at another college or the NFL. This person needs to be a clear choice that when he walks into a recruits home there is no question about his character or how long he may be at UT. This is the most important choice for a head coach probably in the history of the program. Two choice that did not turn out good cannot become three.
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

jandjhome#228397 writes:

The most disappointing news out of all the days events is that Hart meant to keep Dooley if he won the last two games. This wories me about HART.

MidTennVol writes:

I was impressed with Hart, what he said and how he said it.

Our program is in good hands, methinks.

CroKev writes:

After hearing some of these choices, I'm ready to hire Dooley back...

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to RockVegas:

They couldn't be any worse than these other clowns U.T has been taking a chances on.Big Phil should have promoted T.Taylor and he would have never lost his job.As for Tee,he has never been offered a job or nothing else from Tennessee and he won a Title.Tennessee politics as usuall,that's why we stink now.If it's anybody that knows how to win at Tennessee it's got to be T.Martin. I would think,find me a coach,that can win,and recruit.Bye-Bye Fooley,don't spend all that money in one place....GBO.

Yes they could..Trooper Taylor is a NCAA violation waiting to happen and a loudmouth thug..Tee, ruined his legacy by siding with Kiffin and forsaking integrity by taking that job.

calvolfromkingsport writes:

Well, let's see Fulmer, Kiffin, Dooley...how many more before the Vols complete the same cycle as Bama? Maybe a lot longer. Dubose, Franchione, Price, sacrificial Dooley type Mike Shula, then Saban. Don't get too excited folks, still got a long 5 year rocky top ride till the smart people at the top who are paid and pay the top dollars to get that right coach. Should probably look no further than Maryville or Alcoa. Save a heck of a lot of money and no doubt the players would play with more HEART. That would probably make too much sense and not excite most of the passionate knuckleheads who post here.

Pullingguard writes:

Read the last sentence in this article and his last comment and you will realize how far down the drain this program has gone In recent years...No coach, not one can come into the program and have success within couple years...You are. Looking at 4'years out before UT becomes a power in the East again. will take more patience that has been shown on this board...Amother thing he got straight..No one has been talked with regarding coaching..
this says to all those supposedly I'n the know...U know nothing except what you assume...Its just talk, but it's interesting..

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