Official: Derek Dooley fired

NCAA Football: Georgia State at Tennessee

After an ugly loss against Vanderbilt yesterday, the plug was pulled. Derek Dooley has been fired from Tennessee. He will not coach next week’s game against Kentucky. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will coach the team this coming Saturday.

“I’m sorry we could not generate enough wins to help create hope for a brighter future,” Dooley said in a statement. “Although progress was not reflected in our record, I am proud of the strides we made to strengthen the foundation for future success in all areas of the program.”

Despite a $5 million buyout if fired before February 15, 2013, the Vols program needed a change. Tennessee is too good a program to go 0-7 in SEC play – especially during the third year of Dooley’s tenure that was expected to be a promising season.

“We very much appreciate the effort and energy that Derek Dooley and his staff have poured into our football program at the University of Tennessee,” athletic director Dave Hart said in the release. “Derek and I met early this morning, and I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football. We will immediately begin the search for the best possible candidate to assume this leadership role.”

Dooley was 15-21 as the Vols’ coach. He was 4-19 against SEC teams and 0-15 against Top 25 teams. The Vols are 1-14 in the SEC during the last two seasons.

This now makes three SEC programs with head coaching vacancies (Arkansas & Kentucky) heading into the off-season. The other program still considered to possibly make a change at the head coach is Auburn.



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  • Good Luck Coach Dooley!!!!

  • No surprise here. Dooley was a questionable hire from the start but the Vols were left with limited options after the Kiffin fiasco. Compared to other SEC head coaches, Dooley ranked near the bottom in terms of coaching experience. He simply wasn’t ready nor did he do anything to hide that inexperience.

    Now I want to come to the issue of the buyout. Dooley receives $5 million in liquidated damages (36 monthly payments) since Tennessee breached the contract. If Dooley had breached today, Tennessee would have received $3 million.

    Compared to Kiffin’s deal with UT:
    Kiffin breached after 1 year, only had to pay 800K!
    If UT breached after 1 year -> $7.5M!
    If Kiffin breached after 3 years -> $600K!
    If UT breached after 3 years -> $6.25M!

    My point is this: Tennessee didn’t have to insert a buyout clause in Dooley’s contract (heck, Gene Chizik didn’t receive one until after he won the National Championship), but the school, in response to all the public outcry from the Kiffin departure, did so anyway. In a sense, UT gave Dooley a lot more than he deserved, and now today they’re (literally) paying for it. And if you thought Kiffin’s buyout clause was atrocious, wait till you see the one they give Jon Gruden.

    • I agree that the hire was questionable, but I put it in the same category as Arkansas hiring JLS in April – it was the best that could have been done at the time. Dooley was inexperienced for an SEC job, same with JLS. Both are probably great people, just not HC material in this conference.

  • Great guy. Poor coach. I hope he lands on his feet somewhere. Dave Hart needs to make this hire count. This program has slipped badly. In my opinion, Petrino is too risky and Gruden is a huge pipe dream. Strong and Patterson probably aren’t going anywhere. It’ll be interesting to see who he can find.

    • I, too, wish Derek the best. I have known the Dooley family for years, and have nothing but the utmost respect for them. I’m glad Derek got the buyout. Although the stats in the won/lost column were not there, he poured his heart and soul into the Tennessee program. I, for one, believe that the next head coach will reap the benefits of Derek’s work.

    • You know I think he’ll end up being a good coach. Maybe even in the SEC eventually. He was just a decent defense away from contending for the East.

  • Can’t believe I’m saying this. Very good chance Gruden will be the next HC for the Vols. I’ve denied any Gruden coaching rumors for several weeks now but apparently he has been talking to potential coaching staff about recruiting. Plus his wife’s ties to Tenn.

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