Speculation is rampant right now that Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley will be leaving the Bulldogs to take over the head coaching gig at the University of Tennessee. (Update: it’s official!)
The Volunteers’ head job is vacant because former coach Lane Kiffin — who was only one the job for one reason, you’ll recall — jumped ship to take the USC job after Pete Carroll went to the Seahawks.
Dooley certainly isn’t the big, glamorous hiring Volunteers’ fans had in mind. Considering some of the names floating about — Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, University of Utah’s Kyle Wittingham — bringing the coach of a bottomfeeding team in a top-heavy football conference seems like a loss, at least for UT.
Here’s the scoop on Dooley. He’s the son of legendary University of Georgia coach Vince Dooley and has most of his experience coaching WRs and TEs under Nick Saban (Dooley was on staff at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins during their respective Saban regimes). Since getting the La. Tech job in 2007, he’s had mixed results: the Bulldogs went 5-7 in his first year, but rebounded for a great 2008 (8-5 overall and a win in the Independence Bowl). Last season, though, Dooley’s charges had a real rough go of it, finishing a 4-8 record and 5th place in the Western Athletic Conference.
What Dooley inherits at UT…Well, it kind of remains to be seen. But it doesn’t look great. Gone is senior QB Jonathan Crompton, who finished the year with 27 TD passes to just 13 interceptions. Also gone is RB Montario Hardesty, who finished with 1345 yards and 13 TDs a season ago. Those are fairly big losses. But Dooley’s real problem will come in keeping Kiffin’s highly-touted recruiting class, which included 22 verbal commitments and ranked No. 6 nationally amongst all collegiate football programs.
UT players are rightfully steamed at how this all played out, including linebacker LaMarcus Thompson. “Really blindsided. To tell you the truth, I got a text message that said team meeting at 9, and I’m thinking regular old team meeting for school (today) or something,” Thompson said with regards to Kiffin leaving UT. “I’m walking in and I hear the news. It just kind of blew my mind, you know?
“From now on all we’ve got to do, we’ve just got to push on and stick together. That’s basically all we can do is stick together as a team. This is adversity right now.”
Derek Dooley, welcome to adversity.