Some UT fans have been mad at me for not being a dyed-in-the-wool Dool-Aid drinking homer. How come, many wonder, I won’t drink the Dool-Aid? When I wrote after October’s Georgia loss that Dooley would be firmly on the hot seat by the end of the Arkansas game, message boards exploded in outrage. How could I say such a thing? Didn’t my grandfather play for General Neyland? Why wouldn’t I drink the Dool-Aid and keep my mouth shut?
When I said I’d rather have James Franklin as the coach of my football team on our 3HL radio show, UT fans were in a fury once more. And when I wrote that Vanderbilt’s James Franklin was Dooley’s worst nightmare because he didn’t make excuses, Vol fans were angry once more.
Finally, the outrage crystallized when UT celebrated an overtime win over a 5-6 Vandy team like it had just won the national title. I posted the locker room video. You can read the UT fans howling with anger on the OKTC message board. But my point remains clear, UT celebrated like it had just won the 1998 national title. That video should have been humiliating for any UT fan that still had an ounce of self-respect.
Instead, many celebrated it.
Yeah, we kicked the shit out of Vandy! So what that this “shit-kicking” came in overtime? So what if it was Vandy’s worst performance in months?
All was right with the world.
Except it wasn’t.
UT fans were furious at me for questioning Dooley, for telling them the Dool-Aid was poisonous.
Why were some UT fans angry with me? Because deep down they knew I was right about the Dool-Aid. The world hates a truth teller. Especially if it’s a world viewing everything through orange-colored glasses. Fact: Derek Dooley isn’t a top tier coach. Hell, Derek Dooley isn’t even a mid-tier coach. Derek Dooley is the worst football coach in the SEC who still has a job. That’s what happens when you lose to the other worst coach in the league. And the other worst coach in the league is forced to play a wide receiver at quarterback. A wide receiver who passed for a grand total of 15 yards in the game.
Yet, Kentucky still won.
UT is so bad now that it can’t even kick the shit out of Kentucky anymore. And this isn’t even a good Kentucky team. They’re awful too.
The Dool-Aid apologists, the same UT fans who’d adopted the Vol Lost Cause mantra — initially sold to them by Lane Kiffin — argued that no coach in America could win at UT. As the uncompetitive losses piled up, UT fans trotted out excuse after excuse.
Depth. Schedule. Injuries. Youth.
Today, those excuses all ended.
Congrats to Kentucky, but the Wildcat win isn’t really the story here. UT would have lost to every team in the SEC on Saturday. Yes, maybe even Ole Miss. UT is the 11th best team in the conference and its 1-7 league mark is simply unacceptable. In fact, seven conference losses is more SEC defeats than UT has ever had in the history of a proud program.
The worst part of it all?
It has all been so foreseeable. Some people think I dislike Derek Dooley. That isn’t true at all. In fact, I like him. I just wish he was better at his job. But, let’s be clear, he just isn’t a very good coach. After five complete seasons as a head coach he’s now 28-34. He’s had one winning season in five chances. He’s never been an offensive or defensive coordinator and it shows. If his last name was Smith, he wouldn’t be a head coach at all.
In two seasons at Tennessee Dooley is now 11-14, 4-12 in conference. Mike Shula was awful at Alabama, right? Mike Shula was 5-11 in his first sixteen SEC games.
After two SEC seasons, Derek Dooley is Mike Shula with less SEC wins.
But at least Mike Shula went 10-2 in his third season. If you think Derek Dooley is going 10-2 in 2012 you’ve been mixing your Dool-Aid with absinthe and are having hallucinations. Tennessee was worse in every facet of the game in its second season of the Dooley regime. It ain’t getting a lot better in the third season. The Vols will win around seven games in 2012. (That’s with three bought wins, by the way. UT will win less than half its SEC games in 2012).
Instead of giving you more reasons for why Dooley is an abject failure as a coach, I’m bringing you a solution today. It’s simple.
I call it the dump truck theory.
As in, deputize me as athletic director and fill up a dump truck with cash. Give me the keys to the dump truck and I will drive across the country until Tennessee has a respectable football coach. Once I make the hire, I’ll relinquish the job. It’s a simplistic solution game to an issue that has flummoxed me for some time. Why does UT — one of the largest athletic programs in the country — hire head coaches like a bargain basement franchise?
The New York Yankees don’t try and spend less money than the Tampa Bay Rays.
Winning is about exploiting your advantages.
Right now Tennessee’s athletics department is losing.
The single most important expense in college athletics today is the head coach. Yet Tennessee pays much less for its head coaches as a percentage of revenue than any other school in the SEC.
Here was the roster coming in to the season:
1. Mississippi State – 12.8%
2. Ole Miss – 9.4%
3. Arkansas – 9.1%
4. Kentucky – 8.0%
5. Alabama – 6.3%
6. LSU – 6.1%
7. Vanderbilt- 5.7%
8. Florida – 5.2%
9. Georgia- 4.8%
10. Auburn – 4.7%
11. South Carolina – 4.5%
12. Tennessee- 3.1%
If a job is tough to fill and you have lots of money, do you know what you do?
You pay more than anyone else can afford to pay.
Tennessee can afford to pay $5 million (or more) a year for a head football coach.
Very few schools can match that.
So why wouldn’t UT exploit that competitive advantage? Especially when failing to win eventually costs more on the bottom line. (There were tens of thousands of empty seats at Neyland Stadium this year. That’s millions in lost revenue.)
Kentucky pays John Calipari a million dollars more than UT does its football and basketball coach combined. You know why? Because it’s being smart.
Arkansas went out and hired Bobby Petrino and Mike Anderson. The result? Wins. Alabama did the same with Nick Saban.
The Vols try out an unproven coach with a losing record in the WAC.
Why are we surprised that Derek Dooley isn’t a winner at Tennessee? At some point you are what your record suggests you are — a sub .500 coach.
Cut out the uncertainty and hire a proven winnner. Give me the keys to a dump truck full of cash.
What’s more, I’ve got a radical proposition for you — I don’t give a damn if a top coach says no to me. To hell with hiring a search committee and playing footsie beneath the table. I’m holding a press conference in the front yard of Chris Petersen’s house and announcing that we’re willing to pay him $5 million a year to coach Tennessee.
If he says no, so be it. How does it embarrass the program if you’re putting the money forward to demonstrate that your standard is excellence? Other top coaches will be burning up the phones trying to let me know of their interest. I’m tired of waiting for Derek Dooley’s crappy bamboo to grow. I want to win.
After Petersen I’m hopping in my truck and driving straight to Texas. Where I’m holding another press conference in Gary Patterson’s front yard.
If he says no, so be it. We’ll move along to the next top candidate. John Gruden? Bret Bielema? (Kevin Sumlin, Mike Leach, James Franklin, and Gus Malzahn would come much cheaper). I will publicly vet my list with UT fans and allow you to know exactly where my dump truck is heading next. Hell, we’ll even set up a website with a dashboard cam so y’all can watch me driving along the roads and donate more money to go in the dump truck full of cash. Then y’all can show up like it’s College Gameday. Make your signs, paint your faces, show the coach that you want him to win at Tennessee. Before long we’ll have our coach.
You know why?
Because money talks.
Put down the Dool-Aid — it’s laced with arsenic — and open up your wallets. It’s the only way Tennessee football is going to be relevant anytime soon.
Derek Dooley just posted the first back-to-back losing seasons at Tennessee since 1910 and 1911.