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Saban says Dooley doing a ‘fantastic job’ at Tennessee

Nick Saban, Derek Dooley AP

Yeah, it’s coachspeak, but it’s Nick Saban coachspeak. About Derek Dooley. Who may not have a job at the end of this season.

Tennessee has done squat on the field since Dooley arrived in Knoxville in 2010. The Vols haven’t defeated Alabama, Florida, Georgia or South Carolina and have zero wins against ranked teams. Still, Saban said after last night’s 44-13 beating of the Vols that Dooley was doing a “fantastic job” at Tennessee.

“I think Tennessee’s team really played hard,” Saban said in his opening remarks. “I think that Derek is doing a fantastic job. They have been better and better every year that we’ve played them. We were fortunate today that our defense played well enough to keep their high-powered offense to just 13 points.”

Saban’s comments can’t come as too much of a surprise even though frustration is mounting in Knoxville. Dooley was an assistant under Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, so there’s some history between the two — that, and coaching fraternity tends to stick together — -but it’s tough to say Dooley’s done a fantastic job when the on-the-field results are what they are. Now, I would say Dooley was handed a challenging job and that coaches usually deserve the five-year treatment, but that’s not a luxury when you combine the amount of money  that goes into supporting the Tennessee program and the high expectations that go along with it.

(Hat tip: 

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32 Responses to “Saban says Dooley doing a ‘fantastic job’ at Tennessee”
  1. alligatorsnapper says: Oct 21, 2012 3:25 PM

    I understand Saban saying that about Dooley.

    However, to Saban, I want to say:


  2. mshassen2015 says: Oct 21, 2012 3:26 PM

    yeah I’m a Gator fan and agree good coach!!!

  3. timh1955 says: Oct 21, 2012 3:30 PM

    I don’t want him to get fired as I’m scared they would try to get Kirby Smart. Same thing at Arkansas.

  4. dalucks says: Oct 21, 2012 3:47 PM

    I think Derek Dooley needs more time. He has recruited some good talent to Tennessee and he needs time for his new defensive coordinator to continue to improve the defense. Be patient people, besides who would replace him and do better?

  5. Deb says: Oct 21, 2012 3:49 PM

    Tennessee’s defense did look good in the early going last night. The real question is who Tennessee would get to replace Dooley if they decided to let him go. I’m so tired of seeing Jon Gruden’s name on every thread. He hasn’t indicated an interest in coaching college ball, nor has he demonstrated that he’d be particularly good at it. With Arkansas looking and possibly Auburn, too, there just aren’t enough talented guys to go around.

    @timh1955 …

    We’re going to lose Kirby sooner or later, but at least Nick is the real defensive guru at Bama. Still … I’d hate to see him go.

  6. Deb says: Oct 21, 2012 3:50 PM

    @Ben …

    Thank you. Just … thank you.

  7. blitz4848 says: Oct 21, 2012 5:27 PM

    Have a feeling you will be seeing Charlie Strong from Louisville on the sidelines for Arkansas next year. Strong is an ex Florida DC and did a damn good job.

    As for Dooley at Tennessee—I imagine Florida, Georgia & South Carolina agree with Saban as they would all like to see Dooley stay at UT forever since they play them every year……..

  8. jimbo75025 says: Oct 21, 2012 5:38 PM

    Translation from coach-speak, “Please do not fire him-we like having a weak UT team scheduled on a yearly basis”

  9. dcroz says: Oct 21, 2012 6:38 PM

    The problems at Tennessee go far beyond Dooley, and firing him would solve nothing. The Vols’ athletic program has had numerous issues the past several years, including Bruce Pearl’s NCAA issues and the rather terrible way that Pat Summit was forced out after she revealed her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. On top of that, Tennessee’s athletic department is almost flat broke and doesn’t have the funds to pay not just Dooley’s buyout, but those of his staff, as well. I do not know if Dooley is Tennessee’s version of Mike Shula (likeable guy that just didn’t have it in him to be a head coach) but unless the UT BoT steps in and cleans up the mess at the top, then changing coaches would be pointless.

  10. phreakin says: Oct 21, 2012 6:47 PM

    The Vols seemingly have always been an overachieving team. The lucked out on the Manning era and Phillip Fulmer was the reason for an extra 2-3 wins a season. But once he got forced out they’ve been turds. And sorry Vols fans, you will never beat the Alabama’s and LSU’s of the world. Not while Saban and Myles are around. Just stick to reveling the thrashing you’ll give those FBS schools at the beginning of every year.

  11. phreakin says: Oct 21, 2012 7:12 PM

    dcroz, couldn’t agree more on the Pat Summit bit. She was Tennessee athletics even when Fullmer was there. She brought so much to that university and they threw her out like a piece of trash. It was disgusting and the regents in Knoxville should be embarrassed.

  12. pricecube says: Oct 21, 2012 7:15 PM

    That is hilarious. I wonder how long Saban would have lasted at Bama if he had gone 4-16 in SEC conference play over his first 2.5 seasons? Yeah … Dooley is doing a FANTASTIC job! What planet is he living on?

  13. kozbee says: Oct 21, 2012 8:00 PM

    Dooley is the best that came alone before fulmer.Tenn plays well and imo alittle more recruiting and they will be one of the tops in the East.Go Vols.

  14. pricecube says: Oct 21, 2012 8:15 PM


    “Dooley is the best that came alone before fulmer.”

    What does that even mean?

    “Tenn plays well”…

    No they don’t.

    …”imo alittle more recruiting and they will be one of the tops in the East.”

    Dooley’s current recruiting class is ranked 9th in the SEC behind Vanderbilt. It is one spot above Ole Miss. I have news for you, that combined with poor coaching is not going to get us to the top of the SEC East.

    “Go Vols.”

    At least we agree on something. Go Vols indeed…

  15. novoodoo4409 says: Oct 21, 2012 9:06 PM

    only the people who live in the trailer park, i mean village…i mean city limits of tuskeyloser care what little hairplugged Nicky has to say…

  16. ldythang1 says: Oct 21, 2012 9:34 PM

    @pricecube…..but he didn’t…..and that’s why WE are number one…..RTR!!!!

  17. ldythang1 says: Oct 21, 2012 9:39 PM

    @voodoo”whatever”… only WISH your team was as good as ours…’s painful, isn’t it…..

  18. timh1955 says: Oct 21, 2012 9:40 PM

    If for no other reason, Dooley should be fired for wearing those goofy, ugly, retard orange pants for every game.

  19. pricecube says: Oct 21, 2012 11:03 PM


    Shula won ten games in his third season at Bama. Dooley could not carry Shula’s jock. He needs to be fired ASAP.

  20. jimbo75025 says: Oct 22, 2012 12:22 AM

    dcroz says:Oct 21, 2012 6:38 PM
    On top of that, Tennessee’s athletic department is almost flat broke and doesn’t have the funds to pay not just Dooley’s buyout, but those of his staff, as well. I do not know if Dooley is Tennessee’s version of Mike Shula (likeable guy that just didn’t have it in him to be a head coach) but unless the UT BoT steps in and cleans up the mess at the top, then changing coaches would be pointless.
    I will agree with most of your points, but UT replaced their AD a while back. The previous guy left a bit of a grease fire. I predicted months ago Dooley would have to win 8 and go to a decent bowl to save his job for no reason other than the perceived inertia of the program and the AD change and the natural desire of the new guy to have his own guy (at least for football) as face it, football is king at UT.

  21. dg0122 says: Oct 22, 2012 8:35 AM

    Who says Nick doesn’t have a sense of humor?

  22. lakesidegator says: Oct 22, 2012 10:05 AM

    That’s right, Little Nicky, stand up and be heard.
    I said, “Stand up….”

    You are???

  23. foreverlsu says: Oct 22, 2012 11:20 AM

    Why would Saban say anything else? Dooley is a Saban protege that has done nothing and Saban must feed his own ego; firing Dooley would make Saban look bad. Oh, but the real resaon is he wants to continue to dominate the Volunteers in an joke of a rivalry that absolutely must be played on the third Saturday in October to the detriment of the conference.

    When lil Nicky left LSU, he recommended LSU hire Houston Dale Nutt to replace him and was disappointed that LSU did not follow his wisdom. What a joke that would have been.

  24. foreverlsu says: Oct 22, 2012 11:24 AM

    novoodoo4409 says:Oct 21, 2012 9:06 PM

    only the people who live in the trailer park, i mean village…i mean city limits of tuskeyloser care what little hairplugged Nicky has to say…

    voodoo, can you please bring just one intelligent thought to this board for once in your life?

  25. Deb says: Oct 22, 2012 12:01 PM

    @foreverlsu …

    novodoo can’t bring what he doesn’t have 😉

    You sure are picking on our rivalry with Tennessee. It’s really not a joke of a rivalry; there’s tremendous history in that game. For real diehard Bama fans, that game is as important as the Auburn game. Yes, it would be more relevant if Tennessee were more competitive.

    However, I understand why you find the game annoying since Tennessee is not currently competitive and the game assures Alabama a fixed opponent from the East Division. But someone came late to the other thread and posted that the SEC will be moving to a 9-game in-conference schedule in 2014. That means we’ll have an extra game from the SEC East, which will ensure a more difficult schedule. And when Tennessee is competitive again–the pendulum always swings back–we’ll be stuck playing a tough opponent each year while other schools rotate.

    As for Nick … he genuinely loved LSU. I expect he thought Nutt would be an effective replacement … just as I expect he thinks Dooley will follow in his dad’s footsteps.

  26. hor2012 says: Oct 22, 2012 1:36 PM

    I promise you I’m not trying to be funny but I think he’s doing a great job as well. The Vols have some talent. The problem is you’re playing in the tuffest league in the nation. So, it will be a while before they contend. But, if I was part of the Vols nation I would hope they would stay the course

  27. foreverlsu says: Oct 22, 2012 1:48 PM


    Always respect your thoughts and opinions. We may disagree from time to time but I always respect your take because you don’t resort to childish name calling and you make valid intelligent points.

    When conference expansion took place last year I was hopeful that the league would do away with permanent opponents for the sake of competitive balance. It is simply not reasonable that LSU and Florida have to play each other every year for the sake of saving two rivalries. LSU AD, Joe Aleva has expressed this on numerous occasions but has been rejected or ignored each time.

    Forget about a nine-game schedule; the votes are simply not there because of the fact that half the league would have five league road games each year, which impacts the almighty bottom line.

    Therefore, with an 8 game schedule and with a permanent opponent for each team, it will take 12 years to see every team from the east division in your stadium. Twelve years? Are we a conference?

    Doing away with the permanent opponent would allow a visit from every team from the east division every four years at most and some times three years.

    Of course, I have a big problem with the competitive disadvantage LSU has of playing Florida every year when Alabama only has to play them every 3-4 years. Much less, the fact that Miss. State is matched up with Kentucky and Ole Miss with Vanderbilt. Florida has access to tremendous talent in state every year and a huge building on campus with a massive printing machine that prints money.

    I believe you and I could produce a schedule matching Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia every year without the need of LSU-Florida, Miss. State-UK but somehow the league office finds this too complicated and of course who would want to change the make up the way it is.

    I think we agreed that if the rivalry is so important, then the Alabama-UT game should be played as a nonconference game in years that the game is not scheduled as a conference game but the schools would never agree to that …especially if they don’t have to.

  28. foreverlsu says: Oct 22, 2012 2:02 PM

    Les Miles and Steve Spurrier even suggested last May that the division championships be determined based on divisional records only, which I thought was an excellent idea. Of course, it didn’t even come up for vote because it is advantageous for every other team to keep the status quo.

    Next year, LSU will play Florida and Georgia from the East while Alabama plays Kentucky and Tennessee. Is that a schedule that represents anything close to competitive balance? There is no conference in America that has schedules so disproportionate.

  29. Deb says: Oct 22, 2012 2:42 PM

    @foreverlsu …

    Thank you for the kind words. I really enjoy your comments as well … and often learn from them as I have here. I’ve admitted on other threads that I’m much less knowledgeable on college ball than the NFL–and you’ve proved the truth of that again. I never realized LSU was required to play Florida every year in order for the other cross-divisional rivalries to work!! Now I understand why the Tenn/Bama and Auburn/Georgia rivalries create a scheduling problem. Please forgive my ignorance.

    As long as we get to keep the Third Saturday in October, I don’t care if it’s played as an in-conference or OOC game. In fact, I’d rather play Florida and South Carolina more often. Georgia doesn’t matter so much to me, but I enjoy playing the Gamecocks because Spurrier is such a hoot. And being in the middle of Gator country, that’s always a fun game (unless we lose 😉 ). I don’t really want to play Mizzou more often because that’s a little painful for me as a Missouri grad–but it wasn’t as difficult this year as I expected it to be.

    The Kentucky and Vanderbilt games have never meant much, although Vandy is doing okay this year.

  30. rtfox says: Oct 23, 2012 12:28 AM

    Novoodoo449 where u from?

  31. jimbo75025 says: Oct 23, 2012 4:31 AM

    Deb says:Oct 22, 2012 12:01 PM
    And when Tennessee is competitive again–the pendulum always swings back–we’ll be stuck playing a tough opponent each year while other schools rotate.
    Exactly Deb. Everyone in college football (as in life) has ups and downs. The UT/Bama game is tradition and despite the times we live in, tradition still means something. I am just hoping UT can right the ship sooner rather than later and start giving Alabama a run for their money instead of the JV vs varsity game we saw Saturday. Is Dooley the guy-I have my doubts. Mike Hamilton simply had to make a quick hire after the Lane Kiffen fiasco and more years of misery have followed.

  32. Deb says: Oct 23, 2012 3:54 PM

    @jimbo …

    The more we see children of great players coming into the league, the more I think about the whole genetic thing. Peyton is a completely different style of QB to Archie and has far surpassed his achievements. Eli’s playstyle is a little closer to dad’s but he’s been more successful, too. But their success is rare. Ray Lewis’s son is going to Miami as a running back. Somehow I doubt we’ll see a RB roaring on the field :)

    While Wade Phillips and the Ryan boys all share their fathers’ defensive coaching skills, Lane Kiffen’s talents are on the opposite side of the ball to his dad’s. And so far, Derek Dooley hasn’t shown his dad’s coaching flare. Maybe he needed more time as an assistant. But the expectations are higher for him because of the name.

    It’s probably just as well that Paul Bryant Jr. had no coaching ambitions. But he has the golden touch as a businessman. Very wealthy guy.

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