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A friend of mine e-mailed me a post he made on TOS. He gave me permission to re-post it here. Forgive the length - brevity isn't either of our strong suits, I'm afraid. Here is his post and my response:
"If he's not on the hot seat, I question the administrations commitment to have a program that can compete at the top levels of the SEC. He is, AT BEST, the 4th best HC in the SEC East after Richt, Spurrier, and Muschamp. Some might even argue Franklin shows more upside potential than Dooley.
It is amazing how our expectations of what is a successful season have been lowered. Does anyone truly believe there is anything in Dooley's body of work that would indicate he can become one of the elite coaches in the SEC? If not, is the administration willing to accept middle of the SEC pack or worst for our program? Hopefully I'm wrong but I just don't see Dooley ever developing the program to the point that it is competing for SEC championships."
This is exactly what the question needs to be. Who are we as a football program. Are we prepared to be a middle of the pack team long term or are we going to constantly strive to maintain our Top 10 All-Time wins status. If we're not happy to be a middle of the pack team, we need to stop acting and spending like it. Look at the coaches that the other top 10 programs have and hire someone who can realistically compete with those coaches. I understand we got to a bad place after Fulmer and Lane, but so did Michigan and they didn't settle for Rich Rod being mediocre. They made the change they had to make and are back to being a solid program.
The posts I've seen on here and the calls I've heard on sports radio supporting Dooley sound like they're coming from UK or Vandy fans. There should be NO moral victories for The University of Tennessee. A 9 win season should be the minimun, not what seems like a pipe dream. This is our competition:
1. Michigan: 888-306-38
2. Texas: 853-326-34
3. Notre Dame: 845-296-42
4. Nebraska: 836-345-41
5. Ohio State: 825-315-53
6. Alabama: 825-317-43
7. Penn State 821-355-43
8. Oklahoma: 806-308-53
9. Tennessee: 788-340-55
10. USC: 784-309-54
Our competition is NOT teams who struggle to make it to bowl games every year. 7-5 should not be the level to make us happy for a head coach to keep his job. A 7-5 year should be a very rare event and the coach should know that he better fix it very quickly. Last season, 75 teams had more wins than us. 75! Somebody tell me how settling for having 75 teams with more wins than us is acceptable. Dooley has had one winning season in his head coaching career. What in the world makes anybody think that he has what it takes to take this program back to being a consistant 10-win/year program? I am of the opinion that we have to pay what it takes to hire a TOP flight coach and get this program back to where it belongs, the top 10.
This was my response:
I think this post exhibits a failure to accept the reality of where we are as a program. Our program was devastated by:
1 - 2 busted recruiting classes at the end of Fulmer's tenure
2 - Attrition after Fulmer left
3 - 1 Busted class under Kiffin (discipline, grades, etc.)
4 - Attrition after Kiffin left
5 - The difficulty of recruiting players to come play for a team that obviously isn't built to compete
6 - The NCAA investigation cloud that Kiffin left when he departed
7 - The injuries that have occurred to key players on an already depleted roster
8 - Twice in two seasons Dooley having to dismiss our top player from the program (Janzen, Da'Rick)
Whether we like it or not (and I don't want to believe it any more than anyone else does, but it is true), our program was laughable when Dooley arrived. Dooley has done a tremendous job of getting us back to being competitive with the best of the best and put us in a DRAMATICALLY better place than we were three years ago. Kudos to him for the job he as done here.
That being said, will Dooley ever have us being a perennial title contender? I don't know. Part of me doubts it. But I believe he deserves the shot. More importantly, I believe that if we give him a few more years to keep things headed in the right direction and figure out he can't get us back to the top, he leaves us in MUCH better shape to hire a high-profile coach who will WANT to be here. There are several reasons for this:
1 - We will have a talented and competitive roster for someone to walk in and win with (Dooley is recruiting well, and the 2013 and 2014 classes look to be his best work to date)
2 - We will be rid of many of the folks on the payroll who don't coach at the University of Tennessee any more but still draw a paycheck so we will be able to afford more than 1.5-2 million for a big name
3 - Our facilities will be complete and attractive to a coach who understands the value in recruiting with them.
4 - Our assistant coaches will be out of contract and a HC can bring his own staff with him. As it stands now if we fire Dooley, we can either pay these coaches to NOT coach at Tennessee next year or handcuff a new HC to say that he has to keep this staff (and what great HC is going to come without bringing his own staff?) If we pay them to not coach, that limits what we can afford to pay the new staff, resulting in a lower quality staff.
Long and the short, keeping Dooley is not accepting mediocrity. It is accepting reality. And it is planning for the future.
If the guy wasn't recruiting well, I'd say get rid of him (that and empty seats is ultimately what did Fulmer in). But he is. What does it hurt to be patient while he either gets the program to be elite or at minimum stocks the cabinet for a coach who can?
People who want Dooley gone after this season will find that they have hurt the program if they get their way. They will have slowed down our recovery.
Would it be nice to demand wins and be able to buy them with a fancy coach? Yep. Is that realistic right now with what we can afford as a program and where our roster is? Nope.
Now, we could hire someone like Petrino who could come in here and win tomorrow. I believe that. He probably could. But is that how you want to win? Me either.
My least favorite UT fans (and really just my least favorite sports fans in general) are those with a sense of entitlement. "WE ARE TENNESSEE! WE DESERVE TO WIN BECAUSE WE ARE TENNESSEE! WHY ARE WE NOT WINNING?! FIRE EVERYBODY AND GET WINNERS IN HERE NOW! RESTORE TENNESSEE TO ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!" Your friend has a sense of entitlement. There is not one other program in the country that is going to give us a break and help us climb out because we are the #9 winningest program and so we deserve it. Being the #9 winningest program doesn't put points on the board.
There is a difference between being satisfied with mediocrity and just being realistic. To borrow a Dooley phrase, this program was "hit by a freight train". That "freight train" was exactly what you described in your second post. There are 8 points you made about adversity that hit this program. Those 8 points contribute to the hole that this program is in now. We are climbing our way out now, and it is going to take a lot to overcome those 8 points. I'm not going to argue whether Dooley is a good coach, or even whether he "deserves" more than 3 years. But the truth is, firing him at this point pushes the reset button. As long as there is progress, we should be optimistic. Not satisfied, but optimistic.
I could say a lot more, but I'll leave it at that.
This post was edited by smasher423 18 months ago
Here is the deal, bottom line...every program goes through down periods. Notre Dame, FSU, Florida was nothing before Spurrier, Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Miami, Georgia, Texas, USC, ALL OF THEM! The solution is not to just fire coach after coach. That sets us back even farther. This is 100% a rebuilding job. The roster is still not there and it will really take 2 more years before an injury will not have a devastating effect on the outcome of the season. The old rule of thumb is to let a guy get his first recruits in and out, that will technically be next year but really will be in 2014. You stay the course. Firing Dooley after this year will only set us back even more.
I do not consider my opinion and desire to win 8 games this year as settling for mediocrity, I call it a firm grasp of reality and knowing just how far in the dumps this program was 3 years ago when Dooley came on board. Stay the course. And I will admit that I was ready to start digging his grave on Saturday...but that was also knee jerk and see what happened when we stayed the course in just one game. It is still too early to tell if Dooley will work out but one thing you cannot deny is the phenominal job he has done recruiting to Tennessee with the shape the program has been in. Let him do his job and if after next year we are still unhappy then revist the situation...but the solution is not to just dump him after this year with an arrogance of we can get whoever we want.
Doesn't merit a response IMO.
Dooley's first two recruiting classes were great, but last years class and this class are only mediocre when comparing to more than half of the SEC teams. I believe Dooley can recruit , but the new and exciting aspect has worn off and we have to start winning some games that matter to attract the big time recruits. We have plenty of the big recruits listening, but unless we beat an Alabama or South Carolina (Miss State and Missouri aren't considered big wins by the way) then those big time recruits aren't coming to Tennessee. I believe Dooley wins 7 or 8 this year and possibly even next year, but unless recruiting picks back up then I don't see him making it long term. I think his future hinges on two things, the MIss State and South Carolina game this year, and whether or not Bray, Patterson, and Hunter all go pro next year.
Would like to point out for the record (for those downvoting the original post) that those weren't my words or my sentiments. I was quoting a friend that posted it on another board. Downvoting the OP doesn't downvote him, FWIW.
I agree with a fair amount of this. We do have to win a big game or you're right we will be middle of the pack recruiting wise, and every year we finish middle of the pack recruiting is another year we are further and further away from Bama, UGA, and UF. And frankly how long can that go on. I know what you're saying Miss St isn't a Big win, but it's a must win. If we win that game and beat the deadbeats at the end of our schedule we will finish the year ranked and at worst in the Chic Fil A game. So that would be good enough for me to give Dooley another year. Losing to Miss St, S. Carolina, and Bama isn't good enough for me. We would finish probably 7 or 8th in SEC recruiting, Dooley would be on the Hot Seat Next year AGAIN. And recruiting would be average AGAIN unless we can win 8 or 9 games next year which is highly improbable.
TexasseeVol first I did not know you were friends with Clay Travis. Clay has an agenda and part of it is he is anti UT and pro James Franklin they are huge friends and he promotes and defends him at every turn. Dooley may or may not be the guy, but our program was bad much worse than i wanted to believe. So to me 5 years to rebuild would be a miracle. We will have to wait and see. If we beat Miss. State, Play alabama tuff, and win or take USCe to the wire and win the rest that is respectable when switching to a 3-4 defense. This is just me. I am an alum and take this all very serious. thanks
Agreed. OP's response was right on, but I have quit engaging the people who make the "We are Tennessee and we are better than this" argument.
It's the same exact crying Alabama did before Saban got there. And the argument that if we paid for a Saban, we would have results is ridiculous as well. Go look at the recruiting classes Shula left for Saban when he got there.
With all the checks this AD is writing for people who are no longer on the staff why would Hart want to add Dooley, and others, to that list?
Dooley will be here for 2013 and probably 2014, and if and when he goes the program will be better off than when he arrived in 2010. I'm not a huge Dooley fan but I like the man and I would love to see him be successful in Knoxville. But he can only be successful if he is given more time and the AD uses that time to shed excess payroll. Facts are facts this program is still rebuilding and still saddled with a lot of overhead.
Shove Dooley out the door at the end of the year and UT will be back in the hunt for another "middle of the pack" coach because that will just add a few more coaches to a list of coaches still getting paid for services that ended in 2008.
With all due respect, the OPs friend is woefully ignorant of the rebuilding task that was in front of Dooley when he took the job. As I stated in another thread, no coach could have made this a guaranteed nine-win team given how depleted the roster was after the 2009 season.
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