Friday, July 23, 2010

Derek Dooley Stays On Point Through SEC Media Days

It's a time we all know and love down here in the SEC. Media Days! Where the head coaches and select players from each team are available to the media. Last year the big story was who did not vote for Tim Tebow in the preseason All-SEC team. It turned out Steve Spurrier had some member of the athletic department fill it out and left Tebow off. Also, everyone was very interested in what then Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin would say.

This year the big stories have been about agents as pimps and new Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell's first job working on a turkey farm (which was actually very funny as Caldwell said he was on the "inseminating crew").

Tennessee of course has Derek Dooley as the new head man on Rocky Top and he came prepared for the media gauntlet today. Dooley was first asked about his parents and what colors they would be wearing to games (real tough questions I know) since Dooley's father Vince was head coach and athletic director at Georgia for decades. I thought Dooley handled all questions quite well trying to keep the focus on what is going on now and what this season will bring instead of what his predecessor had done.

Dooley's biggest point had been the same he had talked about since he got the job, character. He wants his players to be accountable for their actions and be great representatives of the University of Tennessee and the community. “Certainly our image is not where we want it to be,” Dooley said. “All I know is that whether you have two incidents, four incidents, five incidents, either way, you don’t want any incidents in your program. So it’s important to do a lot of things internally to minimize the risk of those incidents.”

The biggest test of this policy came a few weeks ago after the brawl at Bar Knoxville in which safety Darren Myles was dismissed from the team and linebacker Greg King and defensive tackle Marlon Walls were suspended. Dooley said that the team as a whole felt responsible for what happened as the leaders of the team did not do their best at educating the players to take responsibility for their actions. This is something Dooley is looking to change on Rocky Top. Many know it is not going to happen overnight, but I think they are off to a good start.

Overall I thought Dooley did quite well at the podium. Being a former lawyer he knows how to work a room, is very engaging, and he thinks before he says anything. Which was good since the media kept trying to get him to take a shot at his predecessor.

While I think Dooley has said and done things the correct way so far, the real test comes this fall when he has to coach the Big Orange in Neyland Stadium. As always the SEC media days really signals the countdown to football season! So let's get rolling!

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