Monday, October 15, 2012

3 10 possible replacements for Derek Dooley

By Shaee Flatt

First, let me start by saying that I like Derek Dooley. If I could choose anyone to lead Tennessee back to the glory days, it’d be him. He is very hard not to root for, and has done a lot of good for Tennessee’s football program off the field. He has cleaned up most of the off the field issues that the program saw in the latter years of Fulmer’s tenure and the one year that other guy was there. He has also done a nice job restoring the roster with talent over the last three years. There is no denying that the roster has much more talent now, than it did when Dooley took the job. Sadly, though, off the field is the only place he has done anything good for Tennessee’s football program. He has zero quality wins in three years, and has lost at least a few games to teams with less talent on their roster. The worst thing about the Dooley era is that over three years, no progress has been made. After this month, Tennessee’s football team will be 3-5. Even if the team were to win out from there, and finish 7-5, I don’t see Dooley being kept. The fan base is too against him, and most will never support him. So with Dooley most likely out, here is a list of 10 realistic replacements for Derek Dooley at Tennessee.

Kirby Smart – Alabama Defensive Coordinator – Kirby Smart seems to be the most likely to take over at Tennessee if Dooley is indeed fired. Tennessee AD Dave Hart came from Alabama last year, and is familiar with Smart. He’s has done a nice job under Nick Saban at Alabama, and seems ready for his eminent head coaching chance.

My call: The Smart move wouldn’t be a very smart move for Tennessee, in my opinion. They need a proven winner, and if they dish out enough cash and ask around enough, they can find one. Not an awful hire by any means, just not one I’d be very pleased with.

David Cutcliffe – Duke – Cutcliffe has strong ties to Tennessee, and is well liked within the fan base. Of course we all know how good he was as a coordinator on two separate occasions at Tennessee. He also had good success as head coach at Ole Miss, and probably never should have been fired. Since taking the Duke job before the 2008 season, Cutcliffe hasn’t had much success; his best record at Duke thus far has been 5-7. This year however, the team is just one win away from making a bowl game for the first time since 1994.

My call: I wouldn’t be in favor of a Cutcliffe hire, either. It’s taken five years for him to find success at Duke, and while that is a hard program to turn around, so is Tennessee right now. The only difference is, Tennessee fans wouldn’t be nearly as patient.

Charlie Strong – Louisville – Strong has done a very nice job at Louisville since taking over prior to the 2010 season. He has made a bowl in each season, and has the Cardinals at 6-0 and ranked 16 thus far this year. While Strong has said he isn’t looking to walk away from Louisville, money talks.

My call: This is a tough one for me. I had no doubt that Strong would be successful at Louisville when he was hired, but I don’t know how successful he would be in the SEC. If I had to choose, the Strong hire would be one I’d support.

Gus Malzahn – Arkansas State – Malzahn won a National championship as offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2010, before heading to Arkansas State. Players seem to like him, and he seemed to be a good recruiter during his time at Auburn.

My call: Another possibility that I wouldn’t be in favor of. Malzahn is very unproven and never would have won a NC without Cam Newton.

Butch Jones – Cincinnati – After a 27-13 (20-3) record in three seasons at Central Michigan, Jones has continued to have success at Cincinnati. After struggling in year one, he has led the Bearcats to a 15-3 record since. Jones will likely get a shot at a better job within the next couple years, whether it’s at Tennessee, or somewhere else.

My call: Jones wouldn’t be one of my first choices, but there are certainly people who would be worse hires for Tennessee if Dooley is fired.

Willie Taggart – Western Kentucky – Taggart has completely turned around a miserable program at Western. After going 2-10 in his first season, he led the Hilltoppers to a 7-5 record last year, and currently has them at 5-1 this year with their lone loss coming on the road to #1 Alabama. He’s also just 36 years old.

My call: Taggart is a bit of an unknown, so I’m not completely sure how he’d do. He looks to have a promising future, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about him getting the Tennessee job so soon. I’m leaning towards a no here, but like Jones, they could definitely make worse hires.

Dabo Swinney – Clemson – Swinney began his coaching career at Alabama, and a return to the SEC wouldn’t be out of the question. His 34-20 record at Clemson is impressive, especially consider it is his first head coaching job. He is also a tremendous recruiter, as Clemson has continued to bring in elite talent year after year with Swinney at the helm.

My call: Swinney would be a very good hire for Tennessee, and I think the right amount of money and the chance to coach in the SEC would be enough to lure him from Clemson.

Art Briles – Baylor – Briles, like Malzahn, had the luxury of coaching a very rare talent. RGIII was special at Baylor, and was the main reason for their success last season. The difference, though, is that Briles was also pretty successful at Houston, and considering the bad history of Baylor football, any success there, is impressive.

My call: Briles is a good coach, but there is nothing to suggest he could be a good recruiter in the SEC. Plus, he’s already 56 years old. The younger the better, when it comes to Tennessee’s next head football coach. Just not a good fit. Thanks, but no thanks.

Bobby Petrino – Former Arkansas HC – Petrino is arguably the best coach that doesn’t currently have a job. He obviously has strong SEC ties coming from Arkansas, but I think it’ll be tough for another major school to give him a job so soon after the scandal that lost him his job at Arkansas.

My call: While Petrino is a good coach, and he’d probably have Tennessee back where they belong sooner rather than later, hiring him is too risky right now. Many parents will be against their kids playing for him due to the scandal, and recruiting is at least half of the game in the SEC.

Dan Mullen – Mississippi State – Mullen has done a terrific job at Mississippi State. He is ten games above .500 in 3 and a half years, at a program with hardly any football tradition. He’s young, he’s an offensive genius, and he’s a good recruiter to boot. Not much negative to say here.

My call: Mullen would be a great hire for Tennessee, but would he leave Mississippi State? Tennessee has a much prouder football history than State, and is quite frankly, a better job. However, He seems to love Starkville, and finally has a roster full of his players, as they say. I think its unlikely Mullen would leave Mississippi State for Tennessee, but he’s worth the call.










3 comments:

  1. I'm a fan of the Petro. I say it's a no brainer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Go get Chris Peterson or Gary Patterson. Both proven winners with excellent records as head coaches.

    ReplyDelete
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