Freshman All-American offensive lineman Aaron Douglas was one of a few critical transfers suffered by new Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley but the only one to garner a seemingly arbitrary demand from the coach that his new school be at least an eight hour drive away from Knoxville if he wanted to be released from his UT scholarship. Since Douglas, a UT legacy, went to high school in a Knoxville suburb that demand was tantamount to having him transfer far enough away that his parents couldn't see him easily.
It was a snotty move. When challenged on it Dooley mumbled some unconvincing words in his defense:
Dooley maintained the stipulation for Douglas’ departure wasn’t mean-spirited nor meant to be a punishment.
“I think it’s the exact opposite,” Dooley said. “I’m trying to help him. If the problem is truly at home, then he shouldn’t be at home. But if it’s not truly at home, then we think he should be at Tennessee.”
Um, okay. Dooley is defining "home" as a circle more than 500 miles in diameter.
It seems like the Douglas family is peeved at this, as they've given a interview to GoVolsXtra that lead to a story that starts like this:
Aaron Douglas will always remember the day the fog of depression began to break.
It was March 25, when he asked for his release from his Tennessee football scholarship.
That's right in the kisser. Douglas and his family go on to describe the serious depression he fell into after yet another coaching change at Tennessee, dropping sympathy garnering quotes along the way:
“It was really tough there for four, five, six weeks,” he said. “I had no desire to really do anything. It’s hard to explain. It’s just like your self-esteem bubble has been popped. I tried to handle it the best I could.”
Dooley's press conference statements look even worse in comparison. Tennessee appears to have hired another tin-eared coach that is deaf to public relations. The Vols benefit in no way from the arbitrary restrictions on Douglas's transfer: he's still gone. In return they get another dose of bad press, the impression amongst recruits that if your UT career isn't going well you might have a tough time moving on, and the enmity of an family of old-timey Tennessee loyalists. (The elder Douglas is quoted as disagreeing with Dooley "with some of the stuff he's been popping off, running his mouth" after muttering some boilerplate about supporting Tennessee.) Someone is not doing a cost-benefit analysis.
As for Douglas, he's accepted the stricture and is headed out to an Arizona junior college, where he will play immediately, graduate in a semester, and then transfer to another D-I institution—no strings attached. It would serve Dooley right if it was someone on Tennessee's 2011 schedule, something he could have prevented by not playing Dr. Phil. What say you, Cincinnati and North Carolina? Interested the upperclass years of a freshman All-American?
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