Sunday, November 18, 2012

Derek Dooley could never quite get over the hump at Tennessee

The Power T
Tennessee fired Derek Dooley as head coach on Sunday, but it did not come as a shock.  Even before Saturday's dismantling at Vanderbilt, it appeared he would be leaving.  The loss to the Commodores cemented everything and maybe sped up the process a little.

I have misgivings about his termination.  He inherited a mess when he took over primarily because Tennessee had two head coaches in the previous two years before he arrived.  Because of all the turnover, the program basically lost two recruiting classes and the cupboard was bare in terms of talent. Dooley did a good job building up the talent, and the next coach will reap the benefits of that.
Dooley's fatal flaw was that he could never quite get the team over the hump in big games. All season, his team was competitive but could not make the big play when needed.  Though this was particularly acute this year, it happened over and over during his tenure.
For example, in his first season, the Vols played Oregon in the second game. Tennessee fought to a 13-13 draw in the first half.  The Ducks were loaded that year, and Tennessee admirably battled them until midway through the third quarter.  Then, Oregon hit a couple of big plays, including an interception return for a touchdown, and the game was basically done.  Oregon won 48-13.
Saturday's game was basically a repeat of that.  Despite a sloppy first half, Tennessee only trailed bowl-bound Vanderbilt by three points, 13-10.  However, the Commodores outplayed the Vols in the third quarter and coasted after that.  Final:  41-18.
I wish Coach Dooley the best because he worked hard for the school.  It just did not work out, but he did leave the program better than it was when he took over.  He deserves credit for that.


Anonymous said...

Three years isn't much time to build a program. Especially in the SEC. He couldn't get a break.

Chris said...

Dooley did seem snakebit at times. I agree he couldn't catch a break. In a perfect world, he would have gotten another year to build the program. It's not fair, but the losses down the stretch were too much.