UT AD Dave Hart On Derek Dooley Firing: "It Was a Tough Morning"

Dooley Will Not Coach Kentucky Game

Monday, November 19, 2012
Derek Dooley
Derek Dooley

University of Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart, at a press conference on Sunday afternoon announcing the firing of football coach Derek Dooley, said, "It was a tough morning."

He said he met with Dooley early Sunday morning after an embarrassing 41-18 loss at Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Hart said it was Dooley's decision not to coach the final game of the season - versus Kentucky on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will serve as interim head coach for Saturday's game.

"We very much appreciate the effort and energy that Derek Dooley and his staff have poured into our football program at the University of Tennessee," said Hart. "Derek and I met early this morning, and I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football. We will immediately begin the search for the best possible candidate to assume this leadership role."

Hart said he does not plan to use a search committee and is in no hurry, but he said December "is a critical month" in the hiring.

"I am sorry we could not generate enough wins to create hope for a brighter future," said Dooley. "Although progress was not reflected in our record, I am proud of the strides we made to strengthen the foundation for future success in all areas of the program.

"During the last 34 months, I've given my all for Tennessee, and our family appreciates all this University and the Knoxville community has given us."

Hart said coaches "understand the expectations" and are not as affected by a firing as the spouse and children." He stated, "Derek is not at all bitter."

He said he attended an emotional meeting with Dooley on Sunday morning in which the decision was announced to the players. He said almost all the players attended the hastily-called meeting. He said, "Derek did a great job. He said the right things and said meaningful things." Hart said, "A couple of players were tearing up. It was very emotional." 

He said it was Dooley's decision to go ahead and do the TV coach's show on the Vanderbilt game. "He felt it was his responsibility."

Hart said, "Derek's a good person. He did a lot of things to help set a foundation. But what people see is Saturdays. We had a lot of those that you couldn't put your arms around and hug - in terms of performance."

The Dooley payout for the early cancellation of his contract is $5 million.

Hart said Tennessee athletics has just a $1.9 million surplus in its athletic budget, which he called "unheard of in the Southeastern Conference. Some schools have $50 to $100 million."

But he said some supporters are willing to step up and, "We will not let finances be a deterrent to hiring the best coach we can."

He stated, "We have a long way to go to bring Tennessee football back to where we want it to be."

The AD also said, "We can't put it all on the coach." He said Tennessee has "some historical disadvantages, which we are dealing with."   

Dave Hart is the father of former UTC Athletic Director Rick Hart.

Dooley's record in three seasons at UT was 15-21, including 4-19 in the conference.

Here is the bio on Derek Dooley from UT Sports:

The youngest son of Georgia legend Vince Dooley, who coached the Bulldogs for 25 seasons and claimed six league titles and the 1980 national championship, Dooley never accepted the predetermined path to success. He played his college football at Virginia, turning down scholarship offers elsewhere to walk on and later earn his own scholarship from Cavaliers head coach George Welsh.

As a wide receiver, Dooley earned that scholarship after his second season and went on to help the Cavaliers to three bowl appearances and the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. In 1990, he was named first team Academic All-ACC and helped Virginia to a Sugar Bowl bid against Tennessee. During his playing career, Dooley caught 41 passes for 604 yards and three touchdowns. His level of play was such in the 1990 season that he was invited to and participated in the Senior Bowl.

He graduated that year with a bachelor's degree in government and foreign affairs, and then went on to earn his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1994. Before embarking on his coaching career, Dooley practiced law at a private law firm in Atlanta for two years.

After a successful start to the legal profession, Dooley switched gears and returned to his love of football, beginning his coaching career in 1996 as a graduate assistant at Georgia under defensive coordinator Joe Kines. He then served from 1997-99 as wide receivers coach and co-recruiting coordinator at SMU, where Dooley helped the Mustangs to the school's only winning season over a 20-year stretch.

Dooley joined the staff at LSU under Nick Saban in 2000, serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2000-02 and then running backs coach and special teams coordinator from 2003-04. He helped the Tigers land No. 1 classes in 2001 and 2003.

The Tigers won SEC championships both of those seasons, claimed the BCS national championship in 2003, and Saban promoted Dooley to assistant head coach for the 2004 campaign. Dooley then left with Saban for the Miami Dolphins, serving as tight ends coach from 2005-06. During his two years in the NFL, Dooley oversaw the continued development of tight end Randy McMichael, who ended his Dolphins career as the team's all-time leader in receptions by a tight end.

Dooley is married to Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley, an OB/GYN and Fort Worth, Texas, native. They have two sons, John Taylor (13) and Peyton (10) and a daughter, Julianna (8).

 


Lewis Leads Silverdale Girls Past Boyd-Buchanan

Thursday   was a day of celebration for the Silverdale Lady Seahawks and junior sharp-shooter Megan Lewis. It took an overtime period, but the home-standing Lady Seahawks pulled out a heart-stopping 45-44 victory over the Lady Bucs in a battle for first place in District 5-A.  Lewis scored the game winner with two seconds to play after scoring her 1,000th point on ... (click for more)

Kris Medlen, Former Braves' Hurler, Signs Two-Year Contract With Royals

The Royals would love to see Kris Medlen return to the form that made him one of the breakout pitching stars of Major League Baseball in 2012 and 2013. That's why they're willing to wait a bit longer for it to happen. Kansas City didn't wait a day longer to sign Medlen, however, and on Thursday made official a two-year deal loaded with incentives for the pitcher, who is attempting ... (click for more)

Investor Group Plans $31 Million Hotel In Chattanooga Bank Building

An investor group announced that it is planning the development of an upscale 150-room hotel in the historic Chattanooga Bank Building. MCA is comprised of 20 EB-5 investors as limited partners with Red Leaf Development, managed by David Roos, as the general partner. Long-time partner PHG is involved in the development of the hotel and will be responsible for its management ... (click for more)

Police Say Texts From Slain Minister Detailed Drug Deals

An investigator testified Thursday that a minister who was beaten to death during an apparent drug deal had texts on his phone dealing with similar exchanges of illegal drugs. The minister's wife said he had gone out that night as part of a church counseling program to women. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound charges of felony murder and especially aggravated ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Last Day Of School

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in the early 1980s and every year since then I have been asked repeatedly about it. It is easily the most famous story I have ever written – copies have been sent to me from numerous foreign countries -- and it may be the easiest story I ever wrote. All I did was write what the noted religious psychologist ... (click for more)