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Dooley Raised in the SEC Football "Family"

Posted: Jan 20, 2010

Tennessee made an interesting choice to for the school’s 22nd head coach. Derek Dooley, the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, grew up around the SEC and also had quite a good run at LSU under Nick Saban. The news Vols boss has been the head coach at Louisiana Tech for the last three years, and he is now back in America’s toughest conference.

The Dooley hiring happened very quickly as Tennessee had to fill the vacancy left by Lane Kiffin just weeks before National Signing Day. As far as the much-maligned Kiffin, we wrote last week that he did a solid job in the coaching and recruiting part of the job. However, the new USC coach never embraced Southern football or what it means to be a coach in the SEC. Kiffin seemed to ignore the traditions of a proud program like Tennessee, instead trying to turn the Vols into “USC East”.

Embracing the culture of the SEC and Tennessee will obviously not be an issue for Dooley. As far as the football side of things, he will have a lot to prove in putting together a solid staff and trying to salvage the Vols’ recruiting class. Dooley’s training under Saban (five years at LSU and two with the Dolphins), plus his head coaching experience should serve him well.

Some in the media will criticize his 17-20 record at Louisiana Tech, but his resume looks very similar to that of Gene Chizik’s. The Auburn coach was met with much skepticism a year ago after going 5-19 at Iowa State, but Tiger fans were thrilled to be playing in a New Year’s Day bowl in January.

Derek Dooley looks like a quality hire in Knoxville. The Vols will probably struggle in his first season because of massive personnel losses, but Dooley will build a solid foundation for a winning program. He will also understand what it means to be an SEC head coach, something that should please Tennessee fans immensely.

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