Derek Dooley’s tenure at Tennessee was a failure. Even his father Vince would likely concede that.
But was it a product of Derek’s work or the circumstance he inherited? The answer to that question likely depends on who you ask.
In case you forgot– and no real Vols fan has– Derek Dooley ended his tenure at Tennessee (2011-13) after three seasons with a 15-21 record and a painful 4-19 mark in conference play.
During an interview with Saturday Down South, the elder Dooley, who was a legendary national-title winner as a head coach at Georgia, was asked about his son’s time on Rocky Top.
His answer was very interesting, and delivered with the wit and charm we’ve all come to expect from Coach Dooley:
Q: “As his father and as one of the giants in this conference, how did you digest [his firing] at the time and how do you feel about it now almost five years later?”
Vince Dooley: “Well, I digested it a lot better than his mother did. I can assure you of that. But I’ll tell you that his timing– I thought it was bad at Tennessee. Timing is important in anything. And while my timing here at Georgia was good when I came, I think his timing was bad. The recruiting had gone down the last couple of years under Coach Fulmer and you had the Coach that ended up at Southern Cal who came for one year and is now down in Florida [FAU coach Lane Kiffin].
But given all that, it was still Derek’s responsibility to win. That’s what the expectations are. And as you pointed out, after three years he didn’t. He went to a bowl game the first year and then the last two years was not good. In this day and time, that’s why he’s not at Tennessee anymore. That’s why he’s out at Dallas as the receiver coach.
But I can assure you this– In the three years at Tennessee he made more money in three years coaching than I did in 25 years at Georgia. So while his timing was not great on the field, it was good in the pocket book.”
The interview carried into whether or not Vince Dooley though Derek would receive another chance as a head coach after a mostly successful tenure as the wide receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Q: “Do you seen him being a head coach again one day? Maybe not in the SEC, maybe not at the college level?”
Vince Dooley: “He really enjoys doing what he’s doing. He really enjoys that…
“I think that he needs to make a decision whether he wants to stay in professional football, or if an opportunity comes along in [head] coaching. It’s gotta be a good one, because he’s been at one of those top programs. Whether you get that shot or not again is questionable, but he’s certainly capable of being good in administration.”
Dooley went on to say that he thought his son would be well-equipped for a job in administration, citing his law degree and intelligence.
It remains to be seen what is next for Derek Dooley, but there’s a reasonable chance he could be staring an extended playoff run in the face this season with Dak Prescott throwing to a healthy Dez Bryant.