A Tennessee reporter introduced himself. I forget his name. Let’s call him Tumbleweed Higgins of the Johnson City Crass-Register.
“Coach Dooley, Tumbleweed Higgins of the Johnson City Crass-Register—”
Dooley cuts him off before he could finish.
“Hey, I know who you are. Are you introducing yourself to the people around you?”
Derek Dooley adjudicated himself well in his first appearance at SEC Media Days, moving with a lawyerly agility and patience through an array of potentially irksome questions. Did he have anything to say about the state Lane Kiffin left the program in? (No, he did not, an answer he handily rephrased four or five times throughout the proceedings.) Did he talk to his legendary father about his new job? (Asked three or four times in different variations, and answered best with “I use him the most when I have to make tough decision, which is all the time.”) Was his mother going to wear orange? (“I knew she’d made her decision when she came into a Big Orange Caravan event wearing an orange boa.”)
All potentially noxious/irritating/repetitive questions, sure, but Dooley breezed through with a litigator’s flair. Clay Travis attempted to ask him about the move from the “stable” profession of being a lawyer to coaching. Dooley objected to the question and had it stricken from the record immediately.
“Are you crazy? Lawyering? Stable?”
Substantively, Dooley did get a bit into x’s and o’s, saying that Matt Simms was indeed the starter coming out of spring and that his physical and emotional maturity had much to do with it. He also tempered expectations throughout his session in the key of Churchill: he had nothing to say about preseason rankings showing the Vols fifth in the SEC East, made no projections, and simply said that “competing for sixty minutes was the priority” in what will likely be a very, very rough year for a young and uneven Tennessee squad that’s already had a tumultuous offseason.
The most telling quote from today’s session:
We’ve certainly had our bumps along the way, and we’ll continue to have them.
Derek Dooley has nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, and tears, Tennessee fans. Fortunately that’s two more things than his predecessor gave them, so consider it an improvement. Counselor Dooley is, after all an attorney, and appears to be saving his judgments until after the evidence of the season is revealed.