Wednesday was one of the more difficult times as a parent to the Tennessee Volunteers with the dismissal of junior safety Janzen Jackson.
"It is hard. You know when you are coach, a parent, the toughest part of being a parent is tough love," Dooley said Wednesday night in Neyland Stadium. "That is the hardest kind of love to dish out to a young person.
"As parents, we hate seeing our kids in pain, we hate seeing our kids cry and hurt, but sometimes it is an important part of their growth, is the pain. Pain is a part of life, disappointment is a part of life and sometimes the only way to really figure out how to get our life going in the right direction is by some very difficult things happening to your life."
Dooley is in the business of producing winning football teams, but from the get-go his brand has been about the Tennessee program and what his team represents. Wednesday he made it evident that no one is bigger than the program, no matter the talent.
"Was if difficult? Yes. But, my responsibility is to this organization and my responsibility is to our young people and I think the decision we made was in the best interest of both," Dooley said.
Dooley wasn't intent on sending a message with the dismissal of his former second-team All-SEC safety. In fact, he was sending the message long before Wednesday morning, but it definitely raised a few eyebrows.
"I wish they thought (I wasn't playing around) before," Dooley said. "You don't want to have to do something like that, but I am not. This is serious business, this program, I tell the players that all the time. It is not a game. It is serious business.
"You impact a lot of people's lives and you've got a responsibility. I told them, 'If you don't want to uphold that responsibility, I am OK, that doesn't mean I don't like you, but I am going to help you go somewhere else.' They chose to come here and when you choose to come here you choose a level of responsibility that we want you to uphold. If you don't then there is consequences."
Senior tailback Tauren Poole said the team was shocked following the announcement, but it is now obvious that his head coach is serious.
"I think it is a warning. Coach Dooley isn't playing. He is about his business and if you are going to do something you have to think about this organization's reputation," Poole said. "Every day you are representing something big. It is bigger than us. We have to make sure we are representing it in the right way and I respect him for that."
As negative as the morning was, the afternoon brought some positive news when the NCAA Committee on Infractions notified the Tennessee Athletics Department that no further sanctions would be levied against the university.
"That was a real positive thing today," Dooley said. "That was something, literally, since the first day I took the job has been a black cloud hanging over. I have been saying all along that we felt confident that the worst was behind us, but today validates it.
"I am grateful that the NCAA did what I think was the responsible decision for our football program. The worst is behind us, the case is closed and we can now move on. That is a good thing for our program."
Dooley added that the looming possibility of penalties made it extremely hard to step into the homes of recruits during crucial times.
"I said all along the hardest part was getting these guys up here and interested," Dooley said. "Once we got them up here then that matter didn't really affect us. Was it out there in their minds? Of course it was, I had to answer that question with every recruit and I didn't have an answer, but all that is in the past.
"I felt like this was the hardest year because of all the negativity that surrounded our athletics program, starting in the fall, then the announcement that we are getting the letter, the announcement that we are going in front of the committee, everything was happening during the critical time in recruiting. It was a very difficult spring. That is the way it was. It was difficult, but it is a real tribute to our coaching staff and us just digging in that we are where we are right now."
Dooley and the Tennessee coaching staff, despite the possibility of penalties, have managed to collect 17 commitments in the 2012 class and a No. 19 overall ranking according to Scout.com.
Dooley's team will have the day off on Thursday, followed by Montana film on Friday. The team will then be free to return home if they wish over the weekend before returning to practice Monday morning at 9.