Not that U.T. Director of Athletics Dave Hart cares what I think, but Vols Coach Derek Dooley should get a fourth season to right the ship in Knoxville. Three seasons after inheriting the mess Dooley received when he replaced Lane Kiffen is simply not enough time. In fact, Hart should go ahead and announce that Dooley will be back, no matter what, for 2013. That would take a lot of unneeded pressure off of coaches and players.
I know what you’re probably thinking; “But, we’re terrible on defense, we need a change now.” And on part of that thought process, you would be right. Tennessee is terrible on defense, but change is not always the best policy.
Fans in the Big Orange Nation need to look no further than 2008 to check that out.
Then Athletic Director Mike Hamilton yielded to fan and booster pressure to fire Head Coach Phillip Fulmer, and the once mighty Tennessee football program hasn’t been the same since. We’ve already started over twice since then, and now folks are calling for, you guessed it, another coaching change.
Here are the reasons Dooley should be back for 2013:
He is a good, solid recruiter. In the beginning, he said he was going to recruit better citizens and stay away from signing many of those five-star, ego maniacs that care only about how fast they can get to the NFL. So far, he has done that. He will likely never have many top five classes, but in the long run, that process will work. It would also be a boost to next year’s recruiting class to know, the coach who is recruiting them will be there when they get to school in the fall.
.Who will the Vols get to take the job if Dooley is given his walking papers? Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is a popular choice, but he has never been a head coach. Former NFL coach and current ESPN commentator Jon Gruden has always been a popular choice, but he will demand too much money, and his lack of college coaching experience also makes him a risk.(Maybe Nick Saban will soon tire of winning national titles at Alabama, and U.T. can hire him.) Not going to happen.
This is not a huge factor in any decision to keep the head coach, but should be considered. Dooley’s staff this year is brand new. They’ve only been together for one year, and like a young team needs experience working together to improve, so do the coaches.
4. Refer back to point number two: If Phillip Fulmer had been allowed one more season to get things fixed at Tennessee, we very likely would not be in this position at all right now.
Vol juniors Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, and Cordarrelle Patterson are all possible early entries in the NFL draft next spring. A coaching change would very likely seal the deal. If Dooley stays for another season, Tennessee would have a shot at keeping at least two of those three.
Tennessee simply can’t afford another huge contract buyout. The school is already paying big packages to former Coach Phillip Fulmer, and former basketball Coach Bruce Pearl. There are also several potential lawsuits in play as the university seeks to cut expenses and save money in athletics.
There you have it; six solid reasons to keep Derek Dooley around another season.
Come on Mr. Hart; take the pressure off Coach Dooley, his staff and players, Vol fans, and you. It’s very simply, the right thing to do.
Randy Smith email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).