Derek Dooley's Vol Tenure Ends, At Last
If Tennessee fired Derek Dooley today, the school would have paid him $2.75 million per SEC win.
That's highway robbery. Only a Dooley highway robbery would doubtless end when the robber tripped, fail, knocked himself out, and drowned with his head buried in a pile of money.
Dooley's losses aren't just on the field either. Last week just 61,000 fans showed up, a degree of attendance futility that cost the university $2 million more. Add that up with multiple weeks of dwindling fandom and you're talking about a deficit that makes bankruptcy seem like sterling management.
That's why there's no point in waiting a moment longer, Dave Hart should officially fire Derek Dooley as coach today. Before nightfall in Knoxville he should commence a full-on search for Dooley's replacement. It's time to load up the dump truck full of cash and start driving around the country.
The on-field product would be reason enough to make the move, but attendance is dwindling, fan anger isn't even that common anymore, indifference is becoming the coin of the Volunteer football realm. You know that blank look from Dooley, the one he always has on the sideline when he stares off into the distance and you know that no matter what he's thinking the result is going to be bad? That's the look that UT fans in the crowd have game after game after game.
Whether it's 13 men on the field, 21 on the field for the opponent, a broken hip, being hoisted above his team in the locker room while celebrating an overtime victory over Vanderbilt, being wheeled down the stairs after losing to Mississippi State, giving up a 26 game winning streak to a wide receiver from Kentucky who is playing quarterback, or the constant weekly beatdowns this team has endured time after time, one thing has been consistent -- Dooley's Vols have found a way to lose.
Generally in memorable fashion.
As these losses have mounted, it's been convenient for the Dool-Aid drinkers to claim that I dislike Derek Dooley. That's much easier than opening your eyes and seeing what those of us who don't wear orange-colored glasses have been seeing for a year and a half. This is a bad football team, slowly descending even as the talent grows, a child's balloon losing helium each day, a big orange with no juice. The problem for those who disagreed with me was this -- I don't and never have disliked Dooley at all, I think he's a good guy, funny, smart, and when he chooses to interact with the media -- as he has all season as a guest on our 3HL radio show -- really good at communicating. If I had to pick one current college coach who would be an outstanding television pundit, Dooley would win in a landslide.
I like Dooley, but he's not a good football coach.
Turns out I've been completely right about him from the moment I first wrote last season that Dooley wasn't the answer for Tennessee football. Yes, I pissed off Tennessee fans, the deep set Dool-Aid drinker who wanted to believe that Derek Dooley was the answer all along.
But, you know what, the reason they were so mad at me was because secretly, deep down beneath those orange colored glasses and big orange t-shirts and overalls, they knew I was right.
On October 8th, 2011, in the wake of a home loss to Georgia midway through his tenure, I wrote this:
"On Saturday night a very mediocre, undisciplined Georgia team rolled in to Neyland Stadium, once one of the fiercest home venues in all of sports, and waited for the once mighty Tennessee Volunteers, a team even more mediocre and undisciplined, to self-destruct. That finally happened on the first drive of the second half when, tied 6-6, Tennessee failed to execute an incredibly complicated play called the "snap."
Volunteer quarterback Tyler Bray fell on the loose football, the Vols shanked a punt, and several plays later Georgia scored on a short field to take a 13-6 lead that the Bulldogs would never relinquish...When the Vols weren't taking timeouts for being unable to get lined up, wasting a third and inches with a delay of game penalty late in the third quarter, or pounding the football into a line of scrimmage with as little success as the Situation had throwing himself into a concrete Italian wall, they were struggling to get off the field on defense. It appeared that Tennessee's defensive gameplan was to allow Georgia receivers to run past them and then hope that Aaron Murray couldn't complete deep passes to wide open receivers. For most of the night Murray obliged, missing wide open receiver time after time. Then, finally, he hit Mitchell for 71 yards.
Suddenly it was 20-6 and just like that the energy from a night game at Neyland Stadium was drained."
Tell me it isn't a perfect window into the entire Dooley era.
For three years, the refrain has been the same, can Dooley finally win a big game? And the answer has always been the same, no.
In the end give Dooley credit for something, he's united the entire Tennessee fan base in a similar opinion -- Dooley has to go. There isn't a single Dool-Aid drinker left in the entire country without the last name Dooley. That degree of unanimity is tough to pull off.
So let's say goodbye to orange pants and crutches, hop on the dump truck full of cash -- Next stop, Jon Gruden.
After that I'd work my way down this list of six additional names -- your list can be different than mine -- until I find a taker. With UT's assets, program strength, and rabid fan support begging for wins, it won't take long to find a taker.
1. Jon Gruden
2. Bobby Petrino
3. Charlie Strong
5. Dan Mullen
6. Gary Patterson
7. Gus Malzahn
At long last, everyone can finally agree, even the Dool-Aid drinkers, Derek Dooley is Mike Shula without the wins.