A Dooley is coaching football in the SEC
If nothing else, the change from Lane Kiffin to Derek Dooley gives Tennessee football an upgrade in any conversations the coach might have with NCAA investigators, attorneys or compliance personnel. Dooley earned a law degree from the University of Georgia and practiced law for nearly two years before switching gears to become a football coach.
So, you know, there’s that if the Vols need it.
Vince Dooley’s son is now a head coach in the SEC, and it’s in the Eastern Division, and at a school that’s not Georgia. Barbara Dooley, who’s never had a thing for orange, said she has to go buy some clothes in that color now so she can support her son.
Nick Saban’s former assistant is now a head coach in the SEC, and it’s at the Eastern Division school Alabama - now coached by Saban - plays every year. You figure things might get a little more amicable in that border war, at least at the top.
Another of Saban’s former assistants - Will Muschamp - decided not to go to Tennessee, instead staying at the other UT. He’s coach-in-waiting at Texas, and so he’ll coach and wait some more.
Another of Saban’s former assistants - Jimbo Fisher - is the new head coach at Florida State. Years ago you figured Fisher would have to go to a mid-major and pay some dues as a head man before getting a gig at a major program. He had offers, but he waited for the right fit.
It helps if you’re almost part of the Bowden family, which Fisher has been for years, and lo and behold the first head coaching job he lands is in talent-rich Florida, where the Big Three in the state are all trying to return to glory. The situations are different at Miami, Florida and Florida State, but there’s no debate all three are in worse shape right this minute than they were a decade ago.
Saban has another national championship. It’s a good time to be him - and to be affiliated with him. Nothing against Dooley, but it’s hard to envision the coach of Louisiana Tech going from Ruston to Knoxville to run an SEC program without having a pedigree to go with the resume. Having worked for Saban for seven years and being the son of Vince Dooley is a nice 1-2 punch as far as that goes.
From this point, Derek Dooley will be judged simply by the results, and that’s as it should be.
He’s already telling people he’s not Nick Saban, and that’s understandable, but when something or someone plays such a big part in you getting the job you have, it’s not easily going to be forgotten while you’re doing that job and trying to carve out your own identity. The references and comparisons to Saban are just beginning.
The son of Vince Dooley surely knows that.
Carl Dubois has covered LSU athletics since 1999. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.