John Adams: New staff won over Daniel Hood with its love for the game

John Adams
Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel Hood lines up against Kentucky at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 24, 2012.

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee defensive lineman Daniel Hood lines up against Kentucky at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 24, 2012.

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Daniel Hood would have faced a tough decision if Tennessee hadn’t made a coaching change after last season.

The fifth-year senior defensive tackle finished the fall semester three hours short of a degree in business management. He could have taken his last required course this spring and bid adieu to college football.

If coach Derek Dooley had stayed, Hood might have done just that.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked the hypothetical question after Thursday’s practice.

New coach Butch Jones and his staff of football zealots made Hood’s decision easier.

“I just need football too much,” he decided. “Especially with the new coaching staff.

“With the passion (the players) have for football, (the coaches) just intensify it that much more.”

From a player’s perspective, Hood probably articulates the difference between the previous and current coach as well as anyone.

“With Coach Dooley, it was: ‘This is your job. Do your job, then go home and eat,’ ’’ he said.

“With Coach Jones, it’s: ‘This is your life. It’s everything to you.’ ”

Different approaches work for different coaches and teams. But more passionate coaching might serve this one better.

It’s not as though the Vols can methodically take care of business against the SEC’s finest. They need every intangible asset they can muster.

Tennessee seemingly was lacking in neither incentive nor passion at the start of last season. In almost every preseason interview, players emphasized how dearly they wanted to end their losing ways.

But when the season headed south in the fourth quarter against Florida, UT couldn’t mount a comeback. After that mid-September loss, it kept falling, all the way to a third consecutive losing season.

A new coach — no matter how passionate — doesn’t assure the Vols of a winning season. But a stronger player-coach bond might foster just enough extra effort in one game, or on one play, that could transform the narrowest of defeats into a bowl-eligible victory.

Jones is not short on motivational ploys. Some are gimmicky. Some are cliches. But his fervor for the game might be his most enduring form of inspiration.

It’s not as though he is preaching to an indifferent crowd.

“Show us the way,” is basically all the victory-starved veterans have asked of their various coaches. They have adjusted and adapted accordingly, perhaps none more than Hood.

He signed with coach Lane Kiffin as a 245-pound tight end, then obligingly moved to center when asked. Next stop: offensive tackle. He later learned guard duty as well.

And finally, at his suggestion, he shifted to defensive tackle. That change demanded more changes.

Dooley preferred super-heavyweights in the middle of his line. Hood accepted the challenge with a carb-crazy diet that included full pizzas and bread sticks for snacks.

Leaner, stronger, quicker players are the new model under Jones. So Hood conformed, dropping his weight from a high of 305 pounds to 280.

He has had three head coaches and three defensive coordinators. He has gained 60 pounds and lost 25. And he has played on three losing teams.

But now that he believes he has a coach who shares his love for the game, he’s not ready to give it up.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 15

chipmurphy461 writes:

Great compare and contrast of Dooley and Jones. Jones will bring UT back, but it WILL take several years to do so, just be patient!

AlcoVOLic writes:

wow...actually a good article from adams. no doom and gloom, slight jab at dooley, but that can be expected of him and many of the upcoming comments from other GVX-ers

i will temporarily suspend my disdain for adams for this article...i, however, also don't believe he could do this twice in a row

volfan73120#211815 writes:

John Adams owes Hood an apology for the mean, vicious articles he wrote on Hood back when he was recruited. Your a hypocrite Adams. Always have been, always will be. Apologize to the kid, he deserves it.

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to volfan73120#211815:

John Adams owes Hood an apology for the mean, vicious articles he wrote on Hood back when he was recruited. Your a hypocrite Adams. Always have been, always will be. Apologize to the kid, he deserves it.

I agree with you.

Adams, for you to write this piece and not at least own up to the fact that you were wrong about this young man, is classless. You really should have publicly (and I hope you have privately) apologized. I realize that part of your job is to get a rise out of people...but you can do that with integrity as well. Good thing you don't live in a glass house.

chaos001 writes:

BTW, Adams...use "their" not "its." A football staff is comprised of people, not objects.

Brewii writes:

Been reading the KNS for 22 years now and I've never understood the hate thrown towards Adams article after article.

jimr07 writes:

in response to Brewii:

Been reading the KNS for 22 years now and I've never understood the hate thrown towards Adams article after article.

Most of us have never understood the hate he has thrown at UT.

atnvol#283282 writes:

I agree about Adams owing Hood an apology. It is amazing the class Hood has exhibited towards Adams after the way Adams ripped him when he was being recruited. I have personally spoken with Adams in a restaurant when I was seated near him....I was not impressed but I would not publically ridicule Adams as Adams did Daniel Hood.

Classof72 writes:

Bless Hood's big ole heart. I hope the Vols get to go to a bowl game and Hood gets to play in it.

6972 writes:

Got to admire this kids love for the game. Play me anywhere, just play me. If it takes putting on pounds or taking it off, just play me where I can contribute. What a great attitude. My hat is off to you Mr. Hood.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to chaos001:

BTW, Adams...use "their" not "its." A football staff is comprised of people, not objects.

Baylor's WBB team might have an argument..

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to 6972:

Got to admire this kids love for the game. Play me anywhere, just play me. If it takes putting on pounds or taking it off, just play me where I can contribute. What a great attitude. My hat is off to you Mr. Hood.

Hood's attitude is what Tennessee football should be about. I like the direction this staff is taking with the players. Hopefully, Hood ends his career with the Vols in a bowl game.

lguy (Inactive) writes:

in response to chaos001:

BTW, Adams...use "their" not "its." A football staff is comprised of people, not objects.

You are wrong. Any organization is an "it." When you talk about the individuals, then you can say "they."

jmaples54 writes:

in response to AlcoVOLic:

wow...actually a good article from adams. no doom and gloom, slight jab at dooley, but that can be expected of him and many of the upcoming comments from other GVX-ers

i will temporarily suspend my disdain for adams for this article...i, however, also don't believe he could do this twice in a row

guess you missed the several articles adams wrote about the lady vols'tourney run. complimentary and upbeat.

unlike you.

actually, i wouldn't expect people like you to read lady vol articles...for the most part those are classy tennessee fans.

HooRay_Vol writes:

in response to volfan73120#211815:

John Adams owes Hood an apology for the mean, vicious articles he wrote on Hood back when he was recruited. Your a hypocrite Adams. Always have been, always will be. Apologize to the kid, he deserves it.

And the hyocritical fans too that wanted his head served on a platter and questioned "why TN would ever give this kid a scholarship". He has been a class act since day one....a great young man!

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