Dooley on 'loopholes'

In his first season as head football coach at Tennessee Derek Dooley signed 27 players - two above the annual limit of 25 enrollees - so he's OK with the SEC rule allowing its teams to sign up to 28 athletes.

The league adopted the 28-signee limit - the so-called "Nutt Rule" - after Ole Miss head man Houston Nutt signed 37 players for his 2009 recruiting class. Still, some schools continue grossly "oversigning" with no repercussions.

"There's still a lot of loopholes out there that we didn't address that led to even more complaints," Dooley told reporters during the SEC's spring meetings in Destin, Fla. "It's fair criticism. There's legislation out there to close the loopholes."

One of the most popular loopholes, known as "grayshirting," involves making a player wait until January to enroll so he won't count against the current season's scholarship limit. Auburn signed 32 players last year but skirted the 28-signee limit by convincing several recruits to enroll in January instead of September.

"It's that old saying: Abuse brings control,'' Dooley noted. "When somebody does that, I don't get upset. I just say 'Here we go. At the next meeting there's going to be legislation against it.' Coaches always love to complain, but generally we're the ones who cause it.''

For what it's worth, Dooley's 2010 class worked out all right without resorting to grayshirting. Junior college transfers John Brown and Dave Clark failed to qualify for admission. So did high school signees Marcques Dixon and Eddrick Loften. As a result, only 23 of the 27 signees actually enrolled last September.

FRIENDLY RIVALS: Dooley admits that he and new Florida head man Will Muschamp are "good friends," dating to their days as staffers under Nick Saban with the LSU Tigers and the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

"Assistants who are together for that long - and certainly on Nick's staff - you become pretty close because you spend a lot of time together," Dooley told Edward Aschoff of

Now that Dooley and Muschamp are head men competing in the same conference and the same division, however, their telephone conversations may not be quite as candid as before.

"There will be a little change this year," Dooley said. "We still speak, of course, but both of us are a little more guarded in what we say just because of the competitive nature.

"At the end of the day it is extremely competitive and it's hard for everybody to prosper, so we'll see how it goes."

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