Derek Dooley's downward spiral at Tennessee

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.

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When Derek Dooley became the University of Tennessee's third head coach in as many seasons in 2010, he took over a program in shambles. Lane Kiffin had bolted unexpectedly with less than a month remaining before national signing day, leaving UT scrambling to find a new head coach. Most of Kiffin's signees from the previous year saw more off-field trouble than on-field contributions and some of Kiffin's recruiting tactics were being investigated by the NCAA.

Dooley, who had a 17-20 record at Louisiana Tech, inherited a team with just 68 scholarship athletes, virtually no experience on the offensive line, no proven quarterback or running back and a depleted defensive line. The immediate outlook was grim and while Dooley's first team won its final four regular-season games to become bowl eligible, that season would be remembered more for two games (at LSU and vs. North Carolina in the Music City Bowl) lost by late-game clock mismanagement and the team finished 6-7.

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Comments » 7

born2ride writes:

Dooley should have been fired after the Kentucky loss last year.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Some of those folks blogging on WBIR yesterday need to read this article.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Hindsight is always 20-20. My hindsifgt is that the fundamental mistake was in hiring Kiffin, who left us in a desperate lurch at just the wrong time of year to be looking for a new coach. Dooley was the choice of desperation, no one else would take the job at that point. You play with fire with Lane Kiffin, you get burned. It wasn't Dooley's fault that he wasn't prepared to do well at this job, it was Hamilton's fault for putting our program in the position where we had to hire an unproven, backwater coach.

cdamna1 writes:

I tried to support Dooley. I think he's a good "administrator," but not a very good coach. His inability to make halftime adjustments, mismanagement of the clock, and poor in-game decision making all combined to make the players lose faith in his ability to lead them to wins, and for the past two seasons, he lost their loyalty and confidence before the end of the season. I have to admit, it would be difficult to put in all the practice, time, and effort the players put in only to see the chances of winning disappear in every game because of poor game management. Hopefully the next guy will have a little more experience in how to handle those situations and avoid the team meltdown that we've witnessed the last two seasons.

RockVegas writes:

Let it go people,Dooley was not our man.He will O.k at a smaller school somewhere,he is not an SEC coach bottom line.I'm behind Mr.Hart 110% Tennessee deserves better than Dooley,find us a top notch football coach,that's what we need.So tired of this mess,bye-bye Dooley...GBO.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

I think dooley needs to find an athletic director job somewhere, I feel like thats what he is really good at as far as administration, he will have to be better at making personel decisions though, and there is always espn?? he likes to talk. I know the man truly loves football, but I dont think coaching was his calling.

arkyvol writes:

"downward spiral"? how do you start at the bottom and go down? he sucked in the minor leagues. he was a joke from the moment hammy announced his name. the only mystery was why so many orange blinkered vol fans couldn't get it. those of us who have been pointing it out have been called every name in the book. "oh,oh, we don't dare change coaches again so soon--just think of what it will do to our reputation" yeah, now we're seeing what three years of having a pretend coach has done to that reputation.

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