And is he qualified to take the job? He’s been a college head coach before, sure. This makes Tennessee’s job search better than at least half of all Notre Dame coaching searches to start, but let’s not get carried away here. Dooley was recruiting coordinator/running backs coach under Nick Saban at LSU from 2000 to 2004, and is very organized, but this is far from the five-tool coaching hire Tennessee wanted to make here. Dooley is young, enthusiastic, and knows how to recruit. He was also a middling coach at Louisiana Tech. Potential is nice, but proven results would be nicer in what amounts to a huge leap of faith for Tennessee.
So Tennessee could entrust their program to a sub-.500 guy from the WAC? Yes. That is precisely what they might be close to doing. If he did not have the same last name as Vince Dooley, there is no way he would even be considered for this job. Consider the hire to be a variation on the classic maneuver perfected by Alabama AD Mal Moore, “The Mike Shula:”
1. Have insane beliefs about coaching talent and genes
2. Find excitable coaching spawn with well-typed, underwhelming resume
3. ENGAGE LARGE CONTRACT.
I’ve got a hot stock tip on a young sketchy company that might fold overnight or make billions. Who should I send it to? Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton, who is quickly becoming the Dave Kingman of ADs by taking huge swings and hoping for the best with his eyes closed.
Derek Dooley could get to Tennessee and win five national championships. This is within the realm of the possible. Given his record right now—a 4-8 showing last year, especially—it’s not probable, and that’s why Mike Hamilton should not be loaned chips at the blackjack table in Tunica. He likes gambling, and if the Kiffin and Dooley hirings are any indication, he likes gambling poorly.
The most important question: Does Dooley slap players?
Answer: only when players have their helmets on.