For all intensive purposes, Tennessee Volunteers Head Coach Derek Dooley can start packing his bags. After much speculation that Dooley would be fired earlier this week, Athletic Director Dave Hart announced that no decision has been made. Let’s be honest: some kind of decision has been made. A team in the SEC that consistently makes mistakes needs changes. That’s the culture of the SEC.
The decision may be announced next week or the week after. The real question is where do they go from here? Do they fire Dooley and give into paying him out, almost 5 million dollars? Or do they try to sweet talk Dooley into resigning? Who can they hire after? A big name? Or just give another average guy a shot? Can’t predict the future when it comes to all this, but I can give you a run down of some of the options available.
Let’s think back all the way to the 1998-99 season, the prime of the Vols. The first BCS National Champion (6thNational Championship overall) and so much more to accomplish. But have slowly slipped from the ranks. Head Coach Phillip Fulmer at the time was a God and still is considered one of the best coaches of all time, even being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year. After a few slow seasons, he stepped down as head coach in November of 2008 and the ever so controversial Lane Kiffin became the next head coach.
Kiffin improved the Tennessee record while only coaching for one year, but his character and actions were very questionable. This included NCAA violations for naming a recruit. His departure in early 2010 was absolute last straw for most fans after he resigned from the job to take USC’s head coaching job. Riots and mattress burnings occurred on campus.
A few days later, Dooley became head coach. He wasn’t a well known guy around town, but everyone had heard of the success his father, Vince, had at Georgia. Slowly but surely, fans began to like Dooley. His ever so perfect hair. The ridiculously amazing orange pants that he will definitely known for. He had a swagger about him that was not explainable….But, his inability to produce has me and other Vol fans at a loss.
The first season, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He came into a totally broken team. 3 coaches in 3 years. Not a good combo. You can’t expect a team to become good all of a sudden. Many of the players were freshmen and had little to no experience. A last second loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Music City Bowl was sad, but the Vols had come a lot further than anyone could have expected after such drastic changes.
The second season, injuries plagued the team and you can’t expect to be great with that many injuries right? But a loss to Kentucky at the end of the season tells it all. The Vols hadn’t lost to Kentucky in 26 years. Which brings us to this season….
The expectations were so high. The team was more experienced and all the high profile players were back. Tennessee football was back again. The amazing show that Tyler Bray and company put on in Atlanta at the Chik-fila Kickoff Game was going to be the way the season went, or so most fans thought. The Vols were even able to gain a National ranking for the first time in years, #23. They faced the #18 Florida Gators and lost 37-20. And even then many fans kept home, but the hype definitely died down. And slowly, each game, more and more fans are slowly jumping off the Dooley bandwagon.
The Uncertain Future:
The way the Vols are playing, expect Vandy to win this weekend in Nashville. The difference between these teams are that Vandy is consistently playing well and keeping up, even with ranked teams, despite losses. The Vols on the other had are very inconsistent. So it will be a matter of if the defense will decide to actually show up or not and play for a full 60 minutes.
I am trying to keep enough faith that the Vols can pull off a win against the Kentucky Wildcats Thanksgiving weekend. I mean seriously, if they can’t do that, it will be more than Dooley getting fired.
Even if the Vols win out, it is highly doubtful that they will make it to any bowl game.
As for what to do on coaching….Expect Dooley to be out… soon. The Vols need to bring in a big name to appease fans and restore faith in this organization. The issue that comes up though is money. How much is Tennessee willing to spend on someone great like Jon Gruden and can they pay him enough to lure him in? If not, we will be in the same boat a couple years from now again…and no fans are ready to deal with this any longer!