John Majors appreciated challenge Derek Dooley faced

In a Nov. 28, 1992, photograph, Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors waits to take the field against Vanderbilt in Nashville. It was Major's last game as coach of the Vols. Assistant head coach Phillip Fulmer was introduced as Tennessee's new head coach the next day. (Paul Efird/News Sentinel)

Photo by KNS Archive, Knoxville News Sentinel

In a Nov. 28, 1992, photograph, Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors waits to take the field against Vanderbilt in Nashville. It was Major's last game as coach of the Vols. Assistant head coach Phillip Fulmer was introduced as Tennessee's new head coach the next day. (Paul Efird/News Sentinel)

"There's no question in my mind that Tennessee can regain its prominence because of what it has to offer."

John Majors, former Tennessee coach and player

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As one coach hired to rebuild Tennessee football to another, John Majors was sad to learn of Derek Dooley's firing Sunday.

Majors returned to his alma mater in 1977 to restore a UT program that had been on the slide for several years.

Some 33 years later, Dooley was hired as the third coach in three years.

"Derek took maybe the toughest job of any of us,'' Majors said Sunday night from his South Knoxville home.

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

When Majors came to UT off a national championship at Pittsburgh, he was hailed as a hero. Besides building Pitt to a national power, he had the cachet of being a Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tennessee in 1956.

Perhaps those credentials helped him survive a slow start. After four seasons, Majors was 21-23-1.

But he got a fifth, and eventually led the Vols to three SEC championships in his 16 seasons.

Dooley got 34 months.

"When I came in we needed a lot of modernization in our facilities,'' Majors said. "It took a while to get that sold.

"In three years it's very difficult to build a football program.''

Majors said Dooley leaves the program better than he found it in terms of facilities, discipline and character.

"I very much wanted to see him not only survive, but thrive,'' Majors said.

"But there's no question in my mind that Tennessee can regain its prominence because of what it has to offer.

"The new coach comes in to some of the best facilities in America. I know the young kids just think about the last two or three years, but as long as we can get the players that other good schools in this conference can get in, we can compete for championship-caliber football.''

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Comments » 62

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

Go Johnny!

VOL56 writes:

classy - Johnny very classy!

I'll never forget how you and UT (9-1) got deep sixed on the Heisman when they gave it to Paul Horning, Notre Dame with a 2-9 record. Also, Peyton got edged by Michigan's Charles Woodson,DB.

The VOLS will be winners again soon.

Coach Dooley set the foundation.

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

The Player. The Coach. The Legend!

VenomousVol writes:

Johnny needs to get on the horn to his former GA and persuade him to come to Knoxville.

ACWLY writes:

Gotta love and respect JOHNNY MAJORS, always makes Tennessee look just a little classier! THANKS Johnny!

fratricide08 writes:

Majors is not the nice guy he's made out to be although his comments are classy and I give him props for that. Maybe he's gotten better as he's aged.

gobigorange5090 writes:

John Majors, GO AWAY!

Geofffourmyle writes:

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

As much as whiney little boys do, maybe.

Walt

UT '81

Geofffourmyle writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

The Player. The Coach. The Legend!

The most overrated person in the state.

Walt

UT '81

vols37 writes:

Say what you want about Majors, he did alot of good for UT. He also won or tied the SEC Conference championship(the old format) 3 of his last 7 years. I'd take that in a second right now.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

Majors is being kind. He didn't have anywhere near the talent level as Dooley had by his 3rd year. Fulmer and Kiffin didn't exactly leave the cubbard empty. Dooley also had an advantage with the facilities for recruiting. The biggest difference in the two coaches, however, is in the X's and O's and game decisions. How many times have we seen Dooley with the incorrect number of players on the field or not utulizing his time outs correctly? And the defense under Dooley was simply the worst in school's history. Buck stops at the top.

Bark_at_the_Moon writes:

in response to gobigorange5090:

John Majors, GO AWAY!

Heh, you are talking about a man that won a National Championship coaching at Pitt, who was an All-American, back up to the Heisman Trophy, and a coach that revived Tennessee football to the point it was playing for SEC Titles and compettive on a National Level. Why don't you go away?

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

The most overrated person in the state.

Walt

UT '81

Amen, Walt!

dragon18 writes:

in response to Bark_at_the_Moon:

Majors is being kind. He didn't have anywhere near the talent level as Dooley had by his 3rd year. Fulmer and Kiffin didn't exactly leave the cubbard empty. Dooley also had an advantage with the facilities for recruiting. The biggest difference in the two coaches, however, is in the X's and O's and game decisions. How many times have we seen Dooley with the incorrect number of players on the field or not utulizing his time outs correctly? And the defense under Dooley was simply the worst in school's history. Buck stops at the top.

I'm sorry but you have your facts wrong if you think the cupboard was not bare when Dooley got here. I'm not defending him and the dismissal was the right choice, but he inherited a program that was down about 25 scholarship athletes and very few next level type players. I for one think the program has a much better foundation to build on now than it did when he took over. His record totally sucks though and he needed to win games this year.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

As much as whiney little boys do, maybe.

Walt

UT '81

You folks have lost the feeling of winning and just b.tch and stay content to be bottom feeders. Majors played when Tennessee football was respected. If you live long enough you may see it happen over. If the coach search goes like the last one and all turn it down then Chaney will be our new HC. I'm sure he'll fire Sal. Then we will rise to the highest level 6-6 and trip to the pig bowl.

dunc writes:

in response to VOL56:

classy - Johnny very classy!

I'll never forget how you and UT (9-1) got deep sixed on the Heisman when they gave it to Paul Horning, Notre Dame with a 2-9 record. Also, Peyton got edged by Michigan's Charles Woodson,DB.

The VOLS will be winners again soon.

Coach Dooley set the foundation.

Majors and Peyton both got jobbed in the Heisman "race."

ashvol7 writes:

in response to FulmerDestoyedUT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Finally someone that new what was happening in Fulmers last five years. He got lazy like you say and the recruiting went to pot. We also gave him 6 million for nothing. He should have been fired before he was. Why in the world would anyone want him back, so he could clean out the cupboard again. Please no Fulmer, Chavis, or Cutcliff.

SBWB2 writes:

in response to ashvol7:

Finally someone that new what was happening in Fulmers last five years. He got lazy like you say and the recruiting went to pot. We also gave him 6 million for nothing. He should have been fired before he was. Why in the world would anyone want him back, so he could clean out the cupboard again. Please no Fulmer, Chavis, or Cutcliff.

Amen and Thanks

volposter writes:

in response to FulmerDestoyedUT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did not know about Cafego, but Lauricella was second to a guy in the IVY league. You have to also add Shuler who was second to a FSU quarterback who was not even drafted by the NFL.

Friends and family who know Majors say he is a class guy - at least off the field

Scooby_Doo writes:

Majors is a class act.
Dooley did make the program stronger at the core even if they didn't win.
The Alumni & us fans need to stay out of the hiring process because that is what got us into this pickle in the first place. Lets get rid of Majors! Lets get rid of Fulmer! Oh! What about Lane Kiffin! Wow! Dooley gets left with picking up the trash left behind by some West Coast kid. We are a heck of a lot better off than when Dooley came on.

WowJustWow writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

As much as whiney little boys do, maybe.

Walt

UT '81

I've watched you post all year.....you fit the definition of a bitter mean old man...

SherVols writes:

Thank you for a wonderful article Johnny. I wish that all Vols could show this much class and understand what a horrible situation Dooley walked into and that he took on the challenge with honesty and grace.

It is a sad day when fans and administrators don't support a coach and a team after year 1. Dooley took all the bad that the previous coaching staff had created and put a classy face back on our program. I will always be greatful for this!

I more than anyone want to win. I am lucky enough to have a father that is 90 years old and went to school there as did his sisters;and then my brothers and sisters were lucky enough to have our father and mother pay for us to become life long Vols. My whole life has been about cheering for the Vols and wanting them to win. BUT, I hope that we all realize, that we want to build a program for long term and win with class. We all (which includes students, fans, administrators)need to SUPPORT the new coach so that we can having a winning attitude. Each of you "fans" that were saying fire Dooley at the first of this year contributed to the negative attitude which whether you believe it or not affects those student athletes. I hope that everyone learns to get behind the program and truly support the team. As Johnny said back in his 3rd year of coaching on the Johnny Majors' Show with John Ward --if you think orange and play orange, we will win.

Good Luck Derek and thank you for getting the Vols primed to be back on top.

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to Scooby_Doo:

Majors is a class act.
Dooley did make the program stronger at the core even if they didn't win.
The Alumni & us fans need to stay out of the hiring process because that is what got us into this pickle in the first place. Lets get rid of Majors! Lets get rid of Fulmer! Oh! What about Lane Kiffin! Wow! Dooley gets left with picking up the trash left behind by some West Coast kid. We are a heck of a lot better off than when Dooley came on.

Majors helped get rid of himself with his nasty attitude!

arkyvol writes:

i can get why majors appreciates a stiff like dooley. it takes some of the stench of what he was able to accomplish. fifteen years of a higher level of mediocrity. (in dooley's case, mediocrity would be a major achievement).

volinlm writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

As much as whiney little boys do, maybe.

Walt

UT '81

Just can't let it go, huh, Walt. Well, keep your chin up, there will be a new coach for you to rag on pretty soon.

RememberWhen writes:

in response to dragon18:

I'm sorry but you have your facts wrong if you think the cupboard was not bare when Dooley got here. I'm not defending him and the dismissal was the right choice, but he inherited a program that was down about 25 scholarship athletes and very few next level type players. I for one think the program has a much better foundation to build on now than it did when he took over. His record totally sucks though and he needed to win games this year.

Foundation??? Seriously??? The only thing this defense is a foundation for is a sink hole! TN has exactly 2 highly over-rated but decent nonetheless receivers, 1 physically talented but tempermental, jello-headed QB, and maybe 3 linemen that could actually make an NFL practice squad if they learn how to run block. THAT is the foundation. And guess what - several of those guys aren't coming back next year!! The ONLY way next year is much better is if Hart gets the right guy within the next two weeks and he's able to steal some guys that may be soft commitments elsewhere. Otherwise, everybody will just have to chill for another season and let the rise begin in 2014. Because there is NO foundation with the current roster!

RememberWhen writes:

and comparing Majors era to today is just plain stupid. Too many changes have taken place. It's a different game, a different athlete, a different recruiting world and well, yeah, cops actually arrest coaches who drive drunk now!

RememberWhen writes:

in response to SherVols:

Thank you for a wonderful article Johnny. I wish that all Vols could show this much class and understand what a horrible situation Dooley walked into and that he took on the challenge with honesty and grace.

It is a sad day when fans and administrators don't support a coach and a team after year 1. Dooley took all the bad that the previous coaching staff had created and put a classy face back on our program. I will always be greatful for this!

I more than anyone want to win. I am lucky enough to have a father that is 90 years old and went to school there as did his sisters;and then my brothers and sisters were lucky enough to have our father and mother pay for us to become life long Vols. My whole life has been about cheering for the Vols and wanting them to win. BUT, I hope that we all realize, that we want to build a program for long term and win with class. We all (which includes students, fans, administrators)need to SUPPORT the new coach so that we can having a winning attitude. Each of you "fans" that were saying fire Dooley at the first of this year contributed to the negative attitude which whether you believe it or not affects those student athletes. I hope that everyone learns to get behind the program and truly support the team. As Johnny said back in his 3rd year of coaching on the Johnny Majors' Show with John Ward --if you think orange and play orange, we will win.

Good Luck Derek and thank you for getting the Vols primed to be back on top.

nice fairy tale....denial is an ugly thing though. The fact is that Dooley was unqualified when he was hired and EVERYBODY including the players knew it! He proved it consistently year in and year out with remarkably stupid mistakes on and off the field. Okay so he's a nice guy, a good husband, a great dad. Super. None of that makes him a qualified head football coach. TN fans have proven many times over the years that they will support a legitimate competitive team and coach. They realize every year is not going to be a national championship. But it is certainly not too much to expect to compete for one every year. Too many others do it - several with far less resources and appeal than TN. Dooley lost his teams because of his own mistakes and incompetency. Don't believe it? What happened the week of the KY game last year? He should have been fired at that point because the inmates were running the asylum. Why? Because they could. Just admit he was a mistake that never should have happened. Hamilton panicked over the threat of the NCAA for what proved to be no reason. He hired a guy because of his name. He blew it. End of story. And the fans support or lack of it had absolutely nothing to do with 13 men on the field, a defense that gave up record points, saving timeouts because of no confidence in your own players, kickers that couldn't kick for high school teams, staff that bailed out after one or two years, and...need I continue? Wish the man all the luck you want but don't even try to deceive yourself by believing this team is anywhere near "primed to be back on top!"

Biggie writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

The most overrated person in the state.

Walt

UT '81

Walt '81, I've read alot of your posts and thought; "this guy is an idiot" Well, now I'm sure....go away. You're probably a fake anyway.
Coach Majors IS a class act.

GOJO writes:

Anybody else wonder when & why KNS changed his name from Johnny To John?

bkgunter writes:

in response to dragon18:

I'm sorry but you have your facts wrong if you think the cupboard was not bare when Dooley got here. I'm not defending him and the dismissal was the right choice, but he inherited a program that was down about 25 scholarship athletes and very few next level type players. I for one think the program has a much better foundation to build on now than it did when he took over. His record totally sucks though and he needed to win games this year.

Check YOUR facts. The program has continued to pump "next level" Fulmer recruits into the NFL. Now that they're all gone, we will get to see what a real drop-off in next-level talent looks like.

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

"Mary Lynn (Majors' wife) and I both have tremendous respect for Derek Dooley and we pulled very hard for him. He made a strong effort to improve the program in every way.''

As much as whiney little boys do, maybe.

Walt

UT '81

Get a life... You joke...

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to Geofffourmyle:

The most overrated person in the state.

Walt

UT '81

Where do you rank Walt ????? Well ????

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to gobigorange5090:

Amen, Walt!

amen ??? Another loser...

murrayvol writes:

in response to VOL56:

classy - Johnny very classy!

I'll never forget how you and UT (9-1) got deep sixed on the Heisman when they gave it to Paul Horning, Notre Dame with a 2-9 record. Also, Peyton got edged by Michigan's Charles Woodson,DB.

The VOLS will be winners again soon.

Coach Dooley set the foundation.

Actually they were 10-1. Lost to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.

Tennessee's relationship with the Heisman Trophy is hard (impossible?) to explain rationally.

murrayvol writes:

in response to WowJustWow:

I've watched you post all year.....you fit the definition of a bitter mean old man...

Don't think he's that old....mid 50s maybe.

Still plenty bitter though. Just can't let go of the stone.

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to WowJustWow:

I've watched you post all year.....you fit the definition of a bitter mean old man...

LOL .... AMEN !!!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to GOJO:

Anybody else wonder when & why KNS changed his name from Johnny To John?

When you're pushing 80, "Johnny" just doesn't work anymore.

RockyTop1_old writes:

in response to gobigorange5090:

John Majors, GO AWAY!

Get a life and respect your elders!!

ceross2#217486 writes:

Don't think that I have ever commented before, but I have read a lot of comments by others. It seems that there are more experts out there who aspire to be coach, athletic director and even president of the school than there are trees in the forest. I have followed the Vols for about 65 years and it seems that each year the fans become more rude. They want a national championship each year and they are ready to fire the coach the day he is hired. I love the Vols and Lady Vols, and I wonder how many of you have ever coached or even played in a football game.

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

i can get why majors appreciates a stiff like dooley. it takes some of the stench of what he was able to accomplish. fifteen years of a higher level of mediocrity. (in dooley's case, mediocrity would be a major achievement).

I am in total agreement!

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

and comparing Majors era to today is just plain stupid. Too many changes have taken place. It's a different game, a different athlete, a different recruiting world and well, yeah, cops actually arrest coaches who drive drunk now!

LOL

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to VOLFLIAM:

amen ??? Another loser...

Loser? Because I dont have my nose up Majors' arse??

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to RockyTop1_old:

Get a life and respect your elders!!

Respect is earned not demanded. He is a jerk, not the nice guy you think he is.

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to ceross2#217486:

Don't think that I have ever commented before, but I have read a lot of comments by others. It seems that there are more experts out there who aspire to be coach, athletic director and even president of the school than there are trees in the forest. I have followed the Vols for about 65 years and it seems that each year the fans become more rude. They want a national championship each year and they are ready to fire the coach the day he is hired. I love the Vols and Lady Vols, and I wonder how many of you have ever coached or even played in a football game.

What team have YOU coached??

BoroVol1964 writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

and comparing Majors era to today is just plain stupid. Too many changes have taken place. It's a different game, a different athlete, a different recruiting world and well, yeah, cops actually arrest coaches who drive drunk now!

Excellent post. Johnny Majors did help rebuild the program, but Coach Fulmer took our Vols to the next level, something Majors could have never done. I do wonder if Johnny and Billy Gillespie are friends. They have a lot in common.

laraccoon writes:

in response to RememberWhen:

and comparing Majors era to today is just plain stupid. Too many changes have taken place. It's a different game, a different athlete, a different recruiting world and well, yeah, cops actually arrest coaches who drive drunk now!

spoken like a true band member !

voloffaith writes:

in response to gobigorange5090:

Respect is earned not demanded. He is a jerk, not the nice guy you think he is.

Sorry.....you respect your elders because they are older....Sir Johnny has mellowed and eased up. Age has a way,for some, of changing perspectives. He remembers Derek Dooley inviting to practice and not alienating him. Yes there was the sad Fulmer-Majors debacle that soured things. Anyway respect is earned in job performance, but not in respecting your elders. Didn't say you had to like him, but respect is called for...ask Aretha Franklin.......

Ayres_Hall writes:

The vile and hatred written against our previous coaches is classless and Bammer-like.

Majors and Fulmer are both great Volunteers and Derek Dooley deserves credit for bringing the Volunteer family back together.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to dunc:

Majors and Peyton both got jobbed in the Heisman "race."

Truth be told, Jim Brown was who trully got 'jobbed' in '56.
Majors was second in the voting, but Brown was far and away better than John or Paul.

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