After Alabama’s dominating 21-0 victory over LSU on Monday night to claim its 35th national championship (really, the school claims 14 titles), the college football season was officially over.
It couldn’t have ended quickly enough for Tennessee fans.
The way the Vols’ season ended was definitely a low point in the program’s history. There’s still no way to explain losing to that Kentucky team. However, although that game and that season are finished, as UT and its fans have come to know very well in recent years, more problems have nevertheless emerged.
Four assistant coaches left the team, including, arguably, the three most valuable coaches: defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, linebackers coach Peter Sirmon and wide receivers coach Charlie Baggitt. Questions arose concerning the futures of receivers Da’Rick Rogers and DeAnthony Arnett. Derek Dooley even had to call an impromptu press conference Jan. 3 to address these issues.
Arnett has since been given a transfer, allowing him to enroll at Michigan State. Rogers, UT’s sophomore All-SEC wide out, is still on the team.
Since Wilcox left, a handful of coaches have been reported to accept the vacant coordinator position. Eventually, a report will be right.
With today’s 24/7 news coverage and fans’ addictions to message boards and social media sites, it’s non-stop rumors and speculation.
In Tennessee’s case, it is leading to more negative press for a football program that doesn’t need it.
 It was obvious Dooley didn’t want to be at the press conference last week addressing issues he didn’t believe — or at least publicly admit that there were problems within his program. As any good lawyer would do, Dooley has said the right things during his two years in Knoxville and defended the way the program is being run.
As a highly intelligent and extremely organized person, Dooley has to know what the lack of communication — both on and off the record — from UT’s end on situations like coaching searches and a player’s status on the team do to the program’s perception in today’s media.
Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he doesn’t care what’s reported by journalists and people with funny user names on messages boards and Twitter because they don’t have all the details. Dooley knows the ins-and-outs of the football program better than anyone, and as the head coach he is the one, along with Athletic Director Dave Hart and possibly a few others, who make the important decisions when just a handful of people know the whole story.
Dooley is doing things his way. Yes, he goes outside the box sometimes — the orange dog, “Where’s Rammel?” — but he’s doing what he believes is in the best interest of UT’s football team. He wasn’t hired to do what the fans or media want him to do. He was hired to win football games, and if he starts doing that more, UT’s fan base won’t look for reasons to criticize the decisions he makes.