No more Rommel, barbershop poles, no more “dumbass” remarks. It’s a sad day at 3sib. No more Dooleyisms. But never fear.Athletic Director Dave Hart spoke, so we have a batch of Hartisms to throw at you.
On Derek Dooley
Thank you for showing up on short notice. As you are well aware by now, I have made a decision relative to the leadership of our football program. Derek and I visited at length very early this morning. I want to say because it is factual nature that I have really enjoyed the 13 months that I have worked with Derek. We have an open honest and respectful relationship and all of our conversations have reflected that as this season has progressed and it was no different his morning…I told Derek that we were going to move in a different direction with new leadership for our football program. He handled as you would expect. He handles it in a a mature manner, in a respectful and appreciative manner as far as him being the head football coach at the University of Tennessee for the past three years. It meant a lot to him. I will tell you while the results, which are very important are not what he wanted, now what the team wanted, not what our fan base wanted, Derek Dooley did indeed improve this program. There is no question about that. He inherited a very, very, difficult environment. One that I am familiar with having been here these 13 months. Quite honestly he was given a pretty short stick to take into that battle. Given those facts, he did a good job in a lot of areas in putting a solid foundation under our football program…As I told our football team and our staff, this team was close to having a very good season. I admired the fact that they never came unglued so to speak. They never pointed fingers or said this was your fault, my fault. They showed maturity through a very disappointing football season in terms of excruciating losses in October. I let them know that I did admire that. It was a tough morning. The one thing people forget is, yes coaches are paid well and are compensated well and they do know what the expectations are when they enter the profession, but they are human beings with spouses and kids. It’s tough. Today is a tough day for that staff and our football team. We will now move forward in our search process with the goal of securing the best coach we possibly can to come and lead the football program at Tennessee. You have heard me say this before. This is a great place, a tremendous place. We have tradition, we have history, we have a brand that is still meaningful. But, we have a long way to go to get back to where we need to be. You can’t put all of that on coach, I don’t care if his name is Vince Lombardi or Derek Dooley. We have an obligation as an administration to give our coaches the resources they need, the support they need, intrinsically and extrinsically to back to where we want to be. This will be a collective effort from a lot of people to have us take our rightful place in the Southeastern Conference and beyond.
A lot going on here that I like. One, Hart expect UT to be a top-notch SEC program, and he is willing to go whatever lengths are necessary to get there. You have to love that, and you have to think that any potential coaching candidate will like that as well. Secondly this is not all on Dooley. It’s on Mike Hamilton, Jimmy Cheek, Phil Fulmer, and Lane Kiffin as well.
On Dooley part 2:
His concern was for the players, Derek was not at all bitter, he was not concerned about himself in that regard. He talked at length about his concern and how difficult that might be for the players and it might take away their focus on the final game of the season and in particularly the seniors. His concern was the players and not himself…I don’t know that either one of us slept more than an hour. It was a late night when we got back. We met early this morning and part of the reason was to talk about the tv show. He wanted to do it and he said he could handle it. It was an obligation and he should follow through with it. We talked about those things in great detail this morning.
Classy move by Dooley. Have to respect the guy there. That could not have been an easy Derek Dooley show to do.
On The Financial Status of the Athletic Department:
We are not going to let that be a detriment to securing the best coach we can. I have talked to the Chancellor at length about that. We have a 1.9 million dollar reserve which in the SEC is unheard of. We complete against people who have reserves of about 50-100 million dollars. We are in a tough position financially. The Chancellor doesn’t want us to be at a competitive disadvantage of any nature whether it be financial, or academic or in any other arena where we are trying to compete and get back into the top of that pyramid. We are in a tenuous position, at a crossroads with our athletics program. But, we have people who understand that and are committed to helping us overcome those obstacles. That won’t be a detriment, is it a concern? Yes it is a concern.
Let’s just focus on that first sentence. I am not going to pretend I understand the ins and outs of the reserves, and what it takes to get it back where it needs to be. Hart seems concerned but not worried. So I am going to stick with that.
On Program Stability:
First of all, as you well know this will be our fourth football coach in six years. This is not what I wanted and I don’t think this what we really needed relative to stability versus more transition. We have had 12 presidents since the year 2000. We now have four football coaches in six years. We need stability. But we need to find stability through a process that we are engaged in now. We have challenges, we have some competitive disadvantages that have been identified, that everyone in our campus has been working to overcome, together. We have some academic competitive disadvantages that we are eliminating. These are all historical in nature. This has been the case for some time, we are now beginning to address and rectify some of those disadvantages. That are real in nature…The coaches will know what goes on, they will do their homework just as we will do our homework. My pitch to them is that this is a great place, an attractive place to come and be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee and be the person responsible for providing the leadership that takes us back up the hillside.
I am 34. I was born during the Johnny Majors tenure and witnessed the Fulmer era. It is almost unfathomable to hear fourth coach in six years.
On Fan Passion:
I think the passion of our fans is one of our greatest assets and sometimes that can be displayed in a variety of ways. We are blessed with a passionate fan base. Derek knows that and has said so as well. Derek Dooley is a good person, he is. He is a good husband, good father, a good person and he loves Tennessee. He did a lot of things to help set a foundation. What people, is Saturdays. And we had a lot of Saturdays that had a lot of things that you couldn’t put your arms around and hug in terms of performance levels. That is part of profession that we are in. Derek knows that. I have never been offended by that, you have heard me say this many times. I would hate to work somewhere where there was no passion, where there was apathy, where people didn’t care what the product looked like or whether we were having success or not. I don’t want to be a part of that program. That is not who we are at Tennessee.
This is certainly not a low stress job people will be interviewing for. How long of a contract will the next guy even get? Fair question, let’s let Dave answer that.
On Contract Length:
I think the new coach is going to ask me that question early on in our conversation. Four coaches in six years, I would ask it. Is three years enough? I think that is a fair question. I think you have to look at the results. Derek would be the first one to tell you.
On the 2013 Recruiting Class:
We talked at length about that today with the coaching staff. We talked about managing the recruiting and this is relatively typical in these types of transitions. Those coaches are going to continue to work as you would expect. Darin Hinshaw is our recruiting coordinator, he will work with Jay Graham and some others to spearhead. Those two will spearhead that effort. I talked to the team at length about their academic responsibilities because we are not in the bowl. We had an issue a year ago and we don’t want a repeat of that. We talked about things that are very important as we close out academic semester, as we get into recruiting. We can go on the road Sunday. We talked about all of those things. I will have a chance as the week progresses to meet with our coaches one-on-one to continue those conversations in more depth.
No class is worth a great coach. So if we lose people. (And we’ve already lost Kameron Miles), that’s just the way it is this year. Hopefully the next guy can nail it down.
On the Importance of the Football Coach:
I think any leadership position hire is critically important. Because of the visibility, it makes it extremely important. Your head football coach is the face of the program, just like the head basketball coach and in our case the head women’s basketball coach. The Lady Vols basketball coach is very important. Not only in our community, but state. So it is very, very important.
The new guy will be the most famous guy in Tennessee. It’s a huge hire for Hart.
On the new Candidate Having Previous Coaching Experience:
Critically important. I think it is very difficult to come into the Southeaster Conference without that being present. This league, it is a different world. We are at the end of the football season and we still have five teams in the top 10 in the country. I won’t be surprised to see one or two SEC in the national championship game again. This is the ultimate challenge that competitors embrace for a football coach. If you are a competitor and you want to prove your worth, come to the Southeastern Conference and Tennessee.
Well that would assume that Kirby Smart and Greg Roman are out.
On The Hiring Time Frame:
I wouldn’t put a time frame on it, because of variables I mentioned earlier. I think it is more important to get right, the best person that we can possibly attract. I don’t think the landscape plays into that in every case...I think when you have done it several times you know how to do it and how to go about that process… I think every athletics director in America and every one that I know, you have a list of people. That list changes because you don’t know when you will be in a coaching search. Heaven forbid, it could be a tragedy. You don’t know what could happen. How many of those names at the end of the day will get traction, that remains to be seen. I have not begun that and I will begin that in earnest now. I think there is a right and wrong way to do everything in life. This is how I have always done it. I have contacted no one, back channeled no one, I think that is fair to current head coach. Do I have a plan, I do. Those conversations have not begun…I think a lot of in the past, a lot of hires of this nature occur sometime in the month of December. Very candidly, a lot of those coaches will be in New York City for the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. Some will continue to play into deep into the postseason. December critical month.
Hopefully a new football coach for Christmas Vol Fans!