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What’s in a Name?

January 27, 2010

The recent news coverage I have read concerning Tennessee’s new head coach Derek Dooley has not been very positive. Most writers and bloggers are saying that Dooley isn’t big enough of a name to keep all of the big time recruits in Knoxville. Similarly to Georgia’s recent coaching search, the Vol faithful were clamoring for young coaches with name notoriety like Will Muschamp, Kirby Smary, and David Cutcliffe. But I ask, What’s in a name?

Notre Dame seems to have latched onto the “big name coach” philosophy and look how it has worked for them so far…Tyrone Willingham was hired by the Irish after leading Stanford to the Rose Bowl in the 1999 season. What followed was one of the quickest exits by a Notre Dame coach after a 21-15 record over three seasons. Some argue that Willingham wasn’t given enough time but the expectations are nearly impossible when you hire a “name.” Not much needs to be said about Charlie Weis. The highly touted Patriots coordinator was given an enormous 10 year contract after a single year in South Bend (with Tyrone Willingham’s recruits), and like I said not much needs to be added here.

Rich Rodriguez had a great deal of success at West Virginia, including beating Georgia in the most frustrating loss I have experienced as a fan. He single handedly brought the Mountaineers into national prominence; but when Michigan came calling after firing long time coach Lloyd Carr, Rich Rod bolted for Ann Arbor. Rodriguez’s struggles are also well known by most people. Michigan hasn’t been bowling yet and college football’s winningest program doesn’t seem to be headed anywhere soon.

But bad coaching hires like these are limited to Big 10 country. Ole Miss hired Ed Orgeron, a Pete Carrol assistant from USC and Orgeron never even got his feet on the ground. The Rebels had two wins against teams with a winning record and went 0-8 in SEC play under Orgeron. He quickly abandoned the whole head coaching thing and headed to Tennessee with Lane Kiffin and then left a year later to go to USC with Lane Kiffin ( and is trying to take all Tennessee’s recruits with him).

UCLA hired Rick Neuheisel to lead the Bruins back to glory after his success with Washington ( and after nearly being prosecuted for gambling on the NCAA basketball tourney) but he has only led his alma mater to more of the same mediocrity. Luckily for him, Pac 10 fans are pretty forgiving.

To be fair, there are plenty of big name coaches that have done exactly what was expected and more. I have begrudgingly watched Nick Saban and Urban Meyer go from success to even more success. Houston Nutt has moved around the SEC West with the same great results. Our own Mark Richt was a fairly significant name coming out of a very proven Florida State staff and I am sure there are plenty of more examples on both sides, but there just is no guarantee that a big name coach will produce.

So, what is people’s problem with Derek Dooley? He is a very smart man who just so happens to be the son of a legendary SEC coach. He worked his way up the ladder to where he is now with no favors. He worked as an assistant at the University of Georgia for free so that there would be no conflict of interest. Dooley worked under Nick Saban at LSU and was valuable enough for Saban to hire him when took the Miami Dolphins job. A year later Dooley was hired as the head coach at Louisiana Tech in 2006 and then added the title of Athletic Director to his resume in 2008. Louisiana Tech is no SEC school but the ability to balance head coaching duties as well as those of AD (not to mentions winning the Independence Bowl in 2008)demonstrates to me that Dooley can handle the pressure of being a big time coach. On top of all this, he is a well spoken, southern family man, and essentially the antithesis of everything that Lane Kiffin was at UT. Unfortunately being classy and qualified doesn’t always cut it in the SEC (see Lou Holtz) and Dooley very well may be a flop, but I for one will be rooting for him to do well, except for one week a year. It certainly will be a little bit harder to hate Tennesse with a Dooley at the helm…but I will try my best.

As always, Go Dawgs!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    January 27, 2010 6:09 pm

    Dooley is in the process of trying to steal away our highest rated recruit – that might be part of his job, but we don’t have to like it. I don’t give a damn what his last name is, rooting for his success going forward besides the UGA game is ultimately no different than rooting for Urban Meyer’s success outside the UGA game. Tennessee and Florida will always be our main rivals in the SEC East. I will never wish them good luck with anything. The bottom line is 5-10 years from now we are either going to be disliking Derek Dooley because he’s beating us on the recruiting trail and in games or we are going to be sympathetic toward him because he’s a Dooley and he hasn’t found much success at UT. As UGA fans, we would obviously prefer the latter.

  2. January 27, 2010 6:16 pm

    AJ, sadly I’m going to have to agree with Greg. I will be forced to hate Dooley and perhaps even curse his name. He won’t be as easy to hate as Kiffin, sure, but I must hate him either way. On that note, his new job is even forcing Vince Dooley to consider subtly wearing that hideous orange. Yep, OUR great coach will be wearing our least favorite color. Yet just another reason to hate Dooley’s Vols. I hope Derek Dooley never gets rid of a hob-nailed boot imprint on his face. GATA Bulldawgs!!

  3. A.J. Greek permalink*
    January 27, 2010 8:28 pm

    dude…yall both completely missed the entire point of the article..the point isnt that his name is Dooley, it is that people shouldnt say he is a bad coach just because he hasn’t coached at a big school and isn’t a “Big Name Coach”…i could care less how you feel about him. I am talking x’s and o’s how qualified he is as a coaching prospect. I can think he will do well without Wanting him to do so. Herschel…you of all people know how much I hate the Vols. This is an evaluative article, not an article rooting for Derek Dooley.

    Go Dawgs!

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