During his first appearance as Tennessee’s head coach at the SEC spring meetings, Derek Dooley spent a good amount of time praising the head coach of the reigning national champs. And also found time to take a lil’ jab at the “vocal stylings” of his Volunteer predecessor.
The first-year coach was asked if he followed the drama created by Lane Kiffin‘s first — and only — offseason as UT’s head coach while he was still the sideline boss at Louisiana Tech.
“Of course, I did,” Dooley said according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. . . . I watch other coaches, how they handle themselves in tough situations.
“It wasn’t my style. That’s Lane’s style. I’m not here to criticize his style. Everybody is a little different.
“But I don’t think it helps you to win football games, getting in verbal attacks with each other. At the end of the day, a good headline in March isn’t going to win you any football games.”
Then the talk turned to Saban. Dooley spent seven seasons — five at LSU, two with the Miami Dolphins — on Saban-coached staffs, and there’s little denying that he sees the Alabama coach as a mentor and holds his former boss in very high regard.
“He probably has a tremendous amount of influence on my day-to-day operation of a football program,” Dooley said. “One of the reasons I really enjoyed working for Nick so long is that philosophically we’re cut from the same cloth.”
Saban was quick to respond with some praise of his own.
“Derek is a fine young coach,” Saban said. “He is a very good recruiter, very personable, and probably one of the most organized guys we’ve ever had on our staff.
“He made an outstanding contribution in every way. He understands the big picture.”
It’s understandable that a certain percentage of those residing on Rocky Top, given the circumstances that lead to Dooley’s arrival — Kiffin bolting for USC after one year, and Dooley being far from the school’s top choice as a replacement — were and still are a bit apprehensive about Dooley’s hiring, but something tells me that he’s going to be a success.
It may not happen immediately, and it may take a couple of years to rebuild, but, again, something tells me he’ll have the Volunteers back competing at a high level in the SEC sooner rather than later.
That might be my high regard for for his father Vince Dooley clouding my judgment, though, so take this potential Nostradumbass moment with a grain of salt the size of Mark Mangino.