Joel Hollingsworth is the manager of Rocky Top Talk, SB Nation's stellar Tennessee Volunteers blog. He, too, will be making the voyage to this week's SEC Media Days, and he stopped by SBNation.com to weigh in on the Vols, who of course have another new football coach this year.
Vols fans can probably predict most of the questions that will be asked by a national media that is getting its first real crack at Derek Dooley at SEC Media Days this week. Expect multiple variations on the theme of how Dooley is different from Lane Kiffin. Expect, too, creatively paraphrased queries about how long Dooley thinks it will take to change the culture and perception of the program and, ultimately how long it will take to make the team competitive again.
Expect all of your standard answers to such questions, too: It's a process; It takes time; I'm not trying to be different than the previous guy, I just am.
If that's all that happened this week in Hoover, Dooley would return home to Knoxville even in the expectations game, which is really a win with that many media members present. But the real magic, if there is any, will come in the specifics that lie just below the surface. Like how long Dooley thinks it will take to just get the team back to 85 scholarship players in light of the NCAA's limitations on "oversigning" and on the number of players a program can take in any given year. Like what he's told seniors Chris Walker and Nick Reveiz who have been doing everything right for four or more years and yet still have to share in the negative consequences of teammates' bad behavior.
Yes, we've had a limited sample size, but Vol fans have found Dooley to be most impressive when he's addressing the details. He's refreshing, candid even. For a rookie walking into the SEC Media Days frenzy straight from Louisiana Tech, he actually won't be intimidated. He's much more likely to answer whatever question is put to him with insight, eloquence, a touch of humor, and no more than a seasoning of coach-speak.
If given the opportunity, expect Dooley to put three years of law school and the Socratic method to good use this week in Hoover, and expect the national media to return to their computers impressed.