Dooley doing things his ways at UT

Derek Dooley is changing the way things are done at the University of Tennessee. He is building a championship program his way, including the method in which he handles recruiting at Rocky Top. Go "Inside" to see why Dooley is not having official visitors on game day in Knoxville. InsideTennessee.com goes one-on-one with Dooley to get his thoughts.

It may be just his first year as head coach at the University of Tennessee, but this isn't Derek Dooley's first experience in the SEC or as head coach.

One thing that Dooley has shown during his short tenure in Knoxville is that he has his own way of doing things and he has a detailed plan for every part of his program - from the way he runs his office on a day-to-day basis to the way he handles recruiting.

Dooley admitted earlier in the summer that it would take him and his staff some time to catch up in recruiting due to the late start they got following his arrival in mid-January.

Dooley might consider himself behind, yet his staff currently has 14 commitments, compared to just eight this time last year. If that's behind, then Dooley is showing that he is definitely going to do things differently on his watch as the head coach at the University of Tennessee.

InsideTennessee.com recently learned that Dooley will handle official visits differently here than his predecessors did. Dooley and his staff will only have one game-day weekend when they will host official visits. That weekend will be the Alabama game on Oct. 23.

InsideTennessee.com got the opportunity to visit with Coach Dooley Tuesday one on one to get his thoughts on his way of handling official visits.

"There is no doubt that our game-day experience here at Tennessee is phenomenal," Dooley said. "Ultimately, there is more to recruiting a player than just showing him your stadium. The fact of the matter is that the game-day experience at our competitors' is pretty good also. That doesn't mean ours isn't better, but everyone else's is pretty good, too."

Dooley is convinced that recruiting prospects of high character and strong commitment to the University of Tennessee will benefit the Vols in the long term. Considering the level of attrition Tennessee has endured over the last four years, this may be a welcome change.

Dooley appears to prefer the one-on-one approach to recruiting, giving him and his staff ample opportunity to get to know the prospect during a 72-hours official visit to the Knoxville campus.

"What is more important than just the eight days while they are on campus is the other 348 days they will spend here as students," Dooley said. "It's not just the eight home games. It's all the other days they will be spending here."

Dooley explained that he has other obligations on game days that prevent him from giving visiting prospects the quality one-on-one time he'd like to. He believes meeting these obligations is necessary in building a national championship-type program.

"I want to spend as much one-on-one time with them as possible," Dooley said. "As coaches, we get to know their families better; we consume them with our entire support system that will help them succeed while they are student athletes here."

Dooley also wanted to point out that he is definitely not against using the Rocky Top experience to his advantage.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't bring in prospects to our home games," Dooley said. "We are working very hard as a coaching staff to convince prospects from all over the country to take the time to take an unofficial visit to one of our games. We do our best to convince them it will be worth their time and efforts to get here and experience everything it means to be a Tennessee Volunteer."

This isn't Dooley's first time directing recruiting in the SEC.

"In my experience, I had the same experience at LSU, we would bring guys in for a home game and thought we could wow them," said Dooley, who was Nick Saban's recruiting coordinator during his days in Baton Rouge.

"We never had success signing guys that way. We always had more success bringing them in unofficially for home game and bringing them in later for official visits."

Dooley isn't worried about doing what's popular. He is more concerned with doing things the way he has seen work over the years.

"If the only reason they want to come to Tennessee is the crowd, we probably don't want them anyway," he said. "We want that complete player, the ones that realize the entire process is important."

Dooley considers getting to know the player as a person to be the most important factor in the recruiting process.

"I can't do that during home games," he said. "My job is to win the ball game, that's my obligation to my team first and foremost."

Still, Dooley admitted there is always an exception or two to his philosophy.

"We may bring in one or two players, a mid-term guy or junior college guy," the coach said. "It's something we would prefer not to do, but something that is necessary from time to time.

"Here at the University of Tennessee it's the one-on-one time we spend with official visitors.

That's what I have found out over the years that is critical to the success of your program."


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