Tennessee assistant coaches say Derek Dooley's absence won't affect preparation for Mississippi State

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches play against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 8.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches play against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 8.

Charlie Coiner's cellphone buzzed early Wednesday morning. Other coaches reported the same.

The man sending the texts was Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, only hours removed from surgery to repair a hip fracture but still fervently interested in the rest of the week's practice plans.

"You don't want to know how early it was," said Coiner, Tennessee's special teams coach.

Dooley missed Wednesday's practice but said he would be back on the field this morning. Even without Dooley, assistant coaches said Wednesday's practice was crisp, efficient and still heavily influenced by their absent head coach.

The Vols (3-2, 0-2 SEC) play No. 19 Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.) at Davis Wade Stadium. Dooley said he plans to guide the team from the press box. There will be no major administrative changes, as Dooley will issue directives via headset.

"The one thing that was important to me that I don't disrupt anybody's gameday duties," Dooley said Wednesday night during a short call-in appearance on Vol Calls. "I'm on the headsets with everybody whether I'm on the field or in the box ... Nothing's going to get disrupted other than my ability to look players in the eye."

The portion of Wednesday's practice open to the media appeared no different without Dooley present.

"Coach Dooley has things squared away the way he wants to do things," said defensive line coach John Palermo. "Practice was run just like he was there. He gave us the practice plan, so we did it exactly like he wanted us to."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and safeties coach Josh Conklin typically work from the coaches' booth. That won't change on Saturday. The only difference, Chaney joked, is that the boss will be quite literally looking over his shoulder.

"I talked to Derek on headsets. Now he'll be sitting beside me," Chaney said. "I don't anticipate any difference, quite honestly, when it comes to game day."

Chaney said play-calling happens so quickly in the Vols' fast-paced offense that he doesn't typically have time to talk with Dooley between plays. Most of their conversations take place before or after an offensive series. He doesn't expect that to change.

"I don't see where he's at having any effect on that at all," Chaney said.

Palermo has the most relevant experience on Tennessee's staff. In 1999, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez underwent knee surgery that caused him to miss one game and work from the press box in eight others. Palermo, then the assistant head coach, was the interim head coach in Alvarez's absence and helped direct the team on the field.

He has no desire to reprise the role.

"I don't want anything to do with it," Palermo said. "I just want to be me. That's all."

Dooley had been experiencing hip pain for the past two months and an MRI on Friday showed a hip fracture, Tennessee said. Doctors advised immediate surgery.

The procedure was performed Tuesday afternoon by Dr. Russell Betcher and Dr. Greg Mathien of Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic at UT Medical Center. Betcher, coincidentally, is a former Mississippi State football player.

Dooley hopes to return to a normal schedule next week, pending approval by his doctors.

In the meantime, coaches say, everything is under control.

"Everybody wants Coach Dooley out there, but because of the seriousness of that hip he had to get it done," said defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. "The kids were energetic, they were enthusiastic and they practiced like they were supposed to. They stayed to the standard of the practice."

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

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

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

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 25

TooDlems writes:

Why don't he just try staying at home, we might have a better chance at winning the game.

123forVOLS writes:

I don't care where Coach Dooley is, I wish him well in his hip recovery. I just want these Vols ready to play on Sat. night. GO BIG ORANGE! This is a game you can win.

Classof72 writes:

I think things will go just as well with Coach Dooley in the press box. However, I don't think things will go any better. It is what it is. We'll just wait and see and hope for the best. Whoever coaches this team had better recruit better players. The defense is on track to be the worst overall the Vols have ever had.

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to TooDlems:

Why don't he just try staying at home, we might have a better chance at winning the game.

You are such a fool. Why don't you offer to fill in ??? LOL

jobrando#216494 writes:

VOLS 42 State 11

VOLFLIAM writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Another fool !!!

chl1958 writes:

I can't believe the negative Richard Heads on this site,namely Toodly Do and College Grove Bull phooey.
The Man has suffered for months with this fracture,yet he continued to perform. Maybe you two poor impersonations of human beings will have to suffer like that also;then maybe both of you can re-enter the human race!

615VOL writes:

Vols 38 MSU 24

GBO! On the way to 9-4!

CroKev writes:

in response to chl1958:

I can't believe the negative Richard Heads on this site,namely Toodly Do and College Grove Bull phooey.
The Man has suffered for months with this fracture,yet he continued to perform. Maybe you two poor impersonations of human beings will have to suffer like that also;then maybe both of you can re-enter the human race!

Isn't it obvious that they're the same person?

6972 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

VOLS 42 State 11

Love your optimism. I am an optimistic combined with being realistic. The realistic in me sees a win but not with that big a spread in points. Hope you are right and I am wrong. Go Vols.

volsgirl writes:

Get well Coach,Speedy recover.Go Vols

Huttdawg100 writes:

When did he get hurt? Could it have been handled during the bye week?

mdvol writes:

VOLS by 2 TD's.

Collegefootballnews.com loves the Big Orange in this one....

http://cfn.scout.com/2/1228534.html

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to mdvol:

VOLS by 2 TD's.

Collegefootballnews.com loves the Big Orange in this one....

http://cfn.scout.com/2/1228534.html

They picked UT by a <ahem>...a field goal. Yikes.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Since when were you an expert on performance issues? ......oh, wait, never mind.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to chl1958:

I can't believe the negative Richard Heads on this site,namely Toodly Do and College Grove Bull phooey.
The Man has suffered for months with this fracture,yet he continued to perform. Maybe you two poor impersonations of human beings will have to suffer like that also;then maybe both of you can re-enter the human race!

You're being too kind. Regardless of anyone's opinion of Dooley's coaching abilities (and I have some doubts), no rational person can question his dedication. The guy must be tough as nails. Evidently, he has been living with this fracture for months, thinking it was a muscle injury. One sports show said that it was his wife (an M.D. herself) who insisted that he go for the MRI, which revealed the fracture, which would require immediate surgery to prevent total destruction of the hip, requiring a hip replacement. He has the surgery, getting 3 screws in his hip, and almost immediately thereafter is on the phone with the assistant coaches, will be at practice today and will travel to Starkville for the game Saturday. Anyone doubting this man's dedication to the program is letting their hatred override rational thought.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

You're being too kind. Regardless of anyone's opinion of Dooley's coaching abilities (and I have some doubts), no rational person can question his dedication. The guy must be tough as nails. Evidently, he has been living with this fracture for months, thinking it was a muscle injury. One sports show said that it was his wife (an M.D. herself) who insisted that he go for the MRI, which revealed the fracture, which would require immediate surgery to prevent total destruction of the hip, requiring a hip replacement. He has the surgery, getting 3 screws in his hip, and almost immediately thereafter is on the phone with the assistant coaches, will be at practice today and will travel to Starkville for the game Saturday. Anyone doubting this man's dedication to the program is letting their hatred override rational thought.

I agree completely, and I made the point 2 days ago that this was tantamount to doing what the morons in KC did when Matt Cassell went down. Fortunately, the head cases who post on here only represent about 0.01% of the VolNation.

Olddogsrule writes:

Fall Break...no classes now. I hope each player and their coaches get the most out of the remaining practices of this bye period. DL, LB's, & DB's need to constantly review the defensive schemes and position responsibilities for the Bulldogs offensive sets and shifts. These players should know by now they can't just depend on their being a "natural" like so many can in high school. To win in the SEC requires knowing defensive responsibilites and the game plan so well it comes naturally, without a second thought. It's the slight hesitations to figure it out, blowing other players focus to ask cause "you don't just KNOW" that I think is a large part of why folks are complaining about the defenses speed. When you are confident you're where you're supposed to be and who you're supposed to cover removes those gaps and missed assignments. It's not all natural ability. They have to spend the time to read and learn position responsibilities. Just "knowing" will speed them up.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

SQUAWK!! SQUAWK!! 4-14 ... 4-14 TODDY WANT A CRACKER! 4-14 ... 4-14 SQUAWK!! SQUAWK!!

The blind parrot posts

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

You're being too kind. Regardless of anyone's opinion of Dooley's coaching abilities (and I have some doubts), no rational person can question his dedication. The guy must be tough as nails. Evidently, he has been living with this fracture for months, thinking it was a muscle injury. One sports show said that it was his wife (an M.D. herself) who insisted that he go for the MRI, which revealed the fracture, which would require immediate surgery to prevent total destruction of the hip, requiring a hip replacement. He has the surgery, getting 3 screws in his hip, and almost immediately thereafter is on the phone with the assistant coaches, will be at practice today and will travel to Starkville for the game Saturday. Anyone doubting this man's dedication to the program is letting their hatred override rational thought.

Thank you for the excellent post. ... and the patently true observation in your last sentence.

GO VOLS! GO DOOLEY! GO SEC!
SMOKEY RULES!!

Get well soon coach!

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to 6972:

Love your optimism. I am an optimistic combined with being realistic. The realistic in me sees a win but not with that big a spread in points. Hope you are right and I am wrong. Go Vols.

The Giant will stop the run on one side ....so they get 3 fg's and a safety ....11 is the best I can give them... I'm certain Tyler will get 21 in the 4th quarter to raise his NFL stock

SCVFL writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

VOLS 42 State 11

Love you optimism. You sound like Mater soup. I think this is the game for VOLS to have a good road win, but I think it will be more like VOLS 31 MSST 27. Could come down to a "made" field goal or a final defense stand to hold on to the victory.
Good luck CDD, you are in my prayers. Hoping for a quick recovery.
GO BIG RNG...VFL

traderjoe writes:

"Tennessee assistant coaches say Derek Dooley's absence won't affect preparation for Mississippi State"

Well, that's not saying much for his leadership or coaching skills is it? LOL

I wish him no ill and a speedy recovery but if you're in the kitchen and getting $1 mill+ a year, then you gotta take the heat. Sure he's a great guy from a great family, but I don't think he's ready to coach in the SEC...we'll see..if the VOLS win Saturday, I may change my mind and say the turnaround is on track...albeit a slow one.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

They picked UT by a <ahem>...a field goal. Yikes.

The score they predicted, 27-24, probably didn't involve the Vols kicking any field goals. They were probably anticipating four TDs and a missed extra point.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to illinoisvolfan:

The score they predicted, 27-24, probably didn't involve the Vols kicking any field goals. They were probably anticipating four TDs and a missed extra point.

Sad but true. You always have to factor in a missed extra point with the Vols.

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

Features