KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Derek Dooley has the Southern accent,
the coaching pedigree and is doing his best to reassure Tennessee
fans their new coach appreciates where he's working.
"How can you ask for anything more than the University of
Tennessee?" Dooley said Friday.
The son of longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley was introduced as
the Vols' second new head coach in 14 months, replacing Lane Kiffin
days after he bolted for Southern California. Among his first
challenges will be reassuring fans and players that he wants to be
"The times of worrying about what happened is over," Dooley
Dooley talked about how he learned early that Tennessee
represented the essence of college football, and remembers watching
the weekly television shows of former coaches Johnny Majors and
Phillip Fulmer. He also promised he will not try to sell Tennessee
in a sound bite, perhaps taking a shot at Kiffin, who was
reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference for brash comments.
"Everything we're going to do is going to be done with a
foundation of integrity with every aspect of the program," Dooley
said. "We're going to represent this institution with class on and
off the field."
Dooley was offered the job late Friday afternoon, resigned as
coach and athletic director of Louisiana Tech, and flew into
Knoxville for the late news conference. He brings along a son with
a name popular in Tennessee - Peyton - just like Kiffin, who named
his young son Knox after taking the Vols' job in December 2008.
"I am finally happy to be in a state where Peyton will be well
received," Dooley said of his 8-year-old son, whose name conjures
memories of Vols' star and four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.
Like his predecessor, Dooley comes with a short head coaching
He went 17-20 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and was the
only coach in major college football to also serve as the athletic
director. He holds a law degree and previously worked for several
years under Nick Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said Dooley agreed
that coaching the Vols is a destination job. He praised him for a
five-year tutelage under Saban and for helping the current Alabama
coach land two No. 1 recruiting classes at LSU.
"I've talked to a number of folks over the past 24 hours,"
Hamilton said. "He's been described as very intelligent, intense,
disciplined, hard-nosed, a tenacious recruiter, a family guy and
The Volunteers introduced him three nights after Kiffin abruptly
quit, bolting to USC only 14 months into his tenure with the Vols.
Dooley was hired from a list of candidates believed to include
Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Air Force coach Troy
Calhoun, Duke coach David Cutcliffe and Utah coach Kyle
Dooley's limited head coaching experience - like Kiffin, whose
only head coaching stint had been a brief, bad one with the Oakland
Raiders - makes him a risky pick. But the new coach's uncle, former
North Carolina and Virginia Tech coach Bill Dooley, voiced his
"He'll do well anywhere he goes, and at Tennessee, he would do
very well," Bill Dooley said in a phone interview from his home in
Wilmington, N.C. "When you get a law degree, it gives you a little
notch up. He's got his feet on the ground. He's levelheaded.
Dooley's father coached at rival Georgia from 1964-88 and won
the 1980 national title. He did not return a call to his cell phone
seeking comment, but his son said his father is excited.
Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker said some players might
have considered transferring if they weren't impressed with their
new coach. After meeting with Dooley just minutes before he was
introduced to the media, they seemed satisfied with their new
"He reaffirmed everything that they wanted to come to Tennessee
for," Walker said. "He said he wants to embrace the tradition. He
says he wants to be a really good coach here."
Dooley worked as LSU's recruiting coordinator and tight ends
coach from 2000 through 2003's signing day, landing classes rated
No. 1 in 2001 and '03. He coached LSU's running backs and special
teams in 2003-04, followed Saban to the Dolphins as tight ends
coach in 2005, and left for Louisiana Tech in December 2006.
Dooley was a receiver in college at Virginia. After earning his
law degree from Georgia, he worked as an attorney for two years
before starting his coaching career at Georgia in 1996 as a
graduate assistant. He also worked as assistant recruiting
coordinator at SMU from 1997-99.
He went to Louisiana Tech as one of the youngest coaches in the
Football Bowl Subdivision and added the athletic director title in
March 2008. Dooley led the Bulldogs to their first bowl victory in
more than three decades, beating Northern Illinois in the 2008
"We are grateful for the contributions that Derek made to
Louisiana Tech Athletics and we wish him luck in his new
position," Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau said.