Butch Jones' staff flips eight players in all
Signing Day 2013: Butch Jones is still recruiting
Once again, Derek Dooley found himself perched in front of a TV camera on National Signing Day.
Dooley's iconic hair looked unchanged.
His jet-black prow was precisely parted over his forehead just as it had been from day one at Tennessee.
With his distinctive southern drawl spawning from the corner of his tight smirk, Dooley's easy-to-embrace, yet peculiar sense of humor shined.
The sight was all too familiar.
However, instead of an orange pullover at least one size too large, Dooley donned a black pinstripe suit.
Instead of vibrant England-imported trousers, he sported pressed dress pants.
There was no perfectly placed orange "Power T" lapel pin alongside his gray and black-checkered tie.
Rather than a play sheet held inches from his face, a yellow legal pad harmlessly sat on the desk in front of him.
When Dooley spoke into the camera this time, there was no orange and black Tennessee backdrop behind him, rather glowing screens from inside ESPNU's studio. The former UT football coach was on the other side of National Signing Day.
"Learning the art of TV from Rece… talking ball with Coach Bellotti… analyzing players with Luginbill… enjoying stress free signing day!" Dooley sent out on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
Rather than pacing circles around a near extinct fax machine, of which he cracked several jokes throughout the day, Dooley read from a teleprompter during Wednesday's show.
Dooley served as a guest analyst for ESPNU's coverage of National Signing Day as the nation's top high school football prospects revealed their college choices.
Rather than feverishly collecting letters of intent, he provided insight on everything from social media's affect on recruiting to the strategy of when to plan an in-home visit.
Based on his tweets and on-air comments, it was a welcome change for Dooley — at least for now.
"It's so true, it really is miserable," Dooley said as ESPN's Rece Davis introduced him. "Those words really resonate with me. The worst 48 hours is the Monday and Tuesday before signing day. … It's awful. It's out of you're hands and you're just trying to holding on."
Dooley was joined behind the desk by former Auburn coach Gene Chizik. The two coaches were a combined 1-14 in the SEC last season before being fired in November.
Together, they shared their insights on the grueling recruiting challenges in the SEC.
"We had a top-15 class almost every year I was there," Dooley said on-air. "But then you look up and see six other schools ahead of you. The competition is fierce. …This is a much nicer seat."
But Dooley's days in front of the camera will be short-lived.
While the only graphics listed under Dooley's name read "Tennessee head coach: 2010-2012, Louisiana Tech head coach: 2007-2009," Dooley was named wide receivers coach by the Dallas Cowboys on Monday.
He made no comments about his new position while on TV.
But he did provide some insight on Tennessee's 2013 signing class, specifically of consensus five-star safety Vonn Bell.
Many experts thought Tennessee was in prime position to land the Chattanooga native and long-time UT fan, but Bell plucked an Ohio State hat from underneath his table rather than a UT or Alabama cap.
"It's an extremely good get for OSU," Dooley said. "They were in the lead all the way. … He is a very talented, strong and versatile kid."
While Bell never gave a verbal pledge to the Vols, UT's 2013 signing class looks much different from the commitment list Dooley compiled before his departure in November.
Nine players once verbally committed to the Vols will end up elsewhere.
"Only the strong survive in this conference," he said.
Just after Bell's announcement and before Dooley departed the stage, he shared exactly how he calculates success in the world of college football recruiting.
Appearing on a graphic were Dooley's means of measuring a successful recruiting class: 20 percent game-changers, 25 percent bona fide starters, 30 percent core role players and 25 percent busts.
Riley Blevins is a freelance contributor.