Pupil Vs. Teacher In Vols vs. Bama

When Alabama goes to Knoxville Saturday, it will be a coaching match up of teacher vs. student. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban is beginning to build a stable of former assistants who have gone on to be head coaches, and this week Saban will be going against one of those, Volunteers Coach Derek Dooley.



When Nick Saban accepted the job as head coach at Alabama prior to the 2007 season, Derek Dooley had the opportunity to join Saban in Tuscaloosa. This year Dooley made the jump to head coach at Tennessee.

That move was set up when Dooley elected to accept the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech. When Lane Kiffen left the Vols after just one season, Dooley took over in Knoxville.

Alabama and Tennessee will play at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time) Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. ESPN will televise the game. Alabama is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference gmes and is ranked eighth in the nation. Tennessee is 2-4 and winless in three conference games.

Dooley, the son of former Georgia Coach Vince Dooley (who is a particularly close friend of Saban and his neighbor at their retreats at Lake Burton in Georgia), first worked under Saban at LSU. He joined Saban's first coaching staff in Baton Rouge in 2000 and spent five years there, then two years with Saban at the Miami Dolphins.

In his seven years with Saban he coached running backs, tight ends, and special teams, and was recruiting coordinator at LSU one year.

Saban recently noted that he had never known a head coach who had not been a good assistant coach.

On Monday, Bama's head coach said, ?"I still get to talk to him on occasion, but I haven't talked to him in a couple of weeks. You have personal relationships with people and you have professional relationships with them.

"You have to compete against them, but that doesn't mean you have to dislike them or you can't appreciate or respect all that they've done for the years that they worked with you and the relationships you have with them and their family and everybody else. That is something that has never been an issue for me, whether it was Bill Belichick or whoever, it doesn't seem to be much of an issue with the people we have relationships on the other side of it, either. I do talk to Derek on occasion and I think he is doing a fantastic job up there."

Saban said that Dooley is a good head coach because "first of all, he is a very bright guy, a student of the game in all parts of the game. He was never one of those guys that just thought he was a one-position coach on offense or a one-position coach on defense. He looked at the big picture all the time.

"He has a great family heritage, relative to football, so he kind of grew up with it. He understands the big picture of issues and problems that you have to deal with in a program and I think he is a really good recruiter.

"I think he has all the right stuff to be a very successful college coach."?

Other former Saban assistants now with head coaching jobs are Jimbo Fisher at Florida State and Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, both with teams ranked in the nation's top 25.

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