Q&A with Derek Dooley, Part IV

Can we expect Tennessee to show off a combat or throwback uniform this fall? Is it awkward to have coaches come from Alabama to recruit against Alabama? Sign in or subscribe now to get the answers from Derek Dooley's sitdown with InsideTennessee.

It takes a news source that consistently delves into the framework of college football to get an appointment.

Once that is set up, it takes patience to get the sitdown, and he only has so long to answer your who, when, why questions.

However, after the questions start rolling out, it's a comforting feeling to just be talking football with a head coach in the Southeastern Conference.

Derek Dooley afforded InsideTennessee time to conversate about his Tennessee Volunteers. Here's a look at a portion of what was said:

InsideTennessee: You coached against him last season. I'm sure you've met him in Destin or perhaps briefly at SEC Media Days for a photo or something. What was your first reaction when you heard the news about Bobby Petrino and that it ultimately cost him his job?

Derek Dooley: We have a tremendous responsibility that we hold in this position to a lot of people. Our decisions and our choices affect a lot of lives. Just like players sometimes you lose sight of it and make a bad choice. So, it's just another reminder of the scrutiny, the exposure and how a bad decision can impact a lot of people's lives in a negative way. That's the nature of our profession.

IT: Was it mentally draining at all in either of the last two years going into Gainesville, Athens or Tuscaloosa knowing you were having to count on a young man that was in high school ball just 12 months prior?

Dooley: It doesn't do you any good to sulk about your team. You've got to go out there and try to find a solution and develop a plan on what you think you can do to win the game. That's what we did as best as we could. We did a good job of that in some cases, and we didn't do a good job of that in other cases.

It takes everything. You've got to have a talented roster. You have to have a deep roster. You have to have good coaching. It takes all those things to be a good football team. We are working our way to get there.

IT: How tough it is on a college student athlete mentally to learn a new scheme?

Tennessee's head coach speaks highly of defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and what he brings to the staff.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Dooley: The demands mentally are hard on these players no matter if it is a new scheme or an old scheme. It's a tremendous amount of information we ask them to process in quick time. What we have to do is make sure that we don't give them too much to where they can't play fast and that's always the balance. I think that's why you see more veteran teams have more success because their knowledge of the system and their ability to react and process it quickly is much better because it comes with experience.

Is it hard to learn a new scheme? Of course because it takes some time, but ultimately the guys that are juniors and seniors are better equipped no matter what the scheme because they've been out there and gone through some of the deliberate practice that you need to do to be good.

IT: Is it awkward to sell what Sal Sunseri has done at Alabama with two national championships to prospects who are considering and been offered by Alabama?

Dooley: I don't think so. I think Sal, his career speaks for itself. He was a part of a Super Bowl team. I was a part of a national championship team, coordinated. So, we know what good looks like. I don't think it is awkward. We are certainly not saying Sal was the reason, but we do think he had an impact just like all football coaches do when they are a part of that.

That's not really our No. 1 selling point with Sal. How Sal out coaches, his knowledge of the game, his ability to motivate, teach and develop people with incredible enthusiasm is what we are selling. I think that's what it's going to reap the benefits. Showing that you've had success in the past and you know what good looks like is a good benchmark.

IT: Nebraska has given the OK to allow adidas to design something of a concept or combat uniform. Michigan has done it. Georgia. Ohio State. Notre Dame. How do you weigh the traditions with the mileage and marketing your organization can get by wearing something like that one Saturday a year or so?

Dooley: Well, first of all, that's really more of a departmental issue than it is the coach because those issues are really at the Dave Hart level as it relates to Adidas, our marketing.

But, I think everybody knows me well enough to know that I have a tremendous respect for tradition. I'm not into the fad of the day. I think Tennessee is above the fad of the day, that we don't need to put out funky jerseys to generate interest in Tennessee because our brand is something that is far-reaching, it's respected all over the country and always has been.

That Power T means something. Whenever you start altering the makeup of your brand, then it's going to change people's perception of you. So, does that mean you don't make adjustments with the times? Of course. We always consider that. But, that's really more of a Dave Hart issue.

You know McDonald's has had the golden arches from the beginning of time. Do they make adjustments? Yeah. But, at the end of the day, it's McDonald's. Coca-Cola has had that same Coca-Cola script since back in the 1800s. Have they made some minor adjustments to tweak it to make it look a little better? Of course they have. But, at the end of the day, if somebody from 1905 woke up and saw that logo, they'd recognize it.

Danny Parker is currently the Associate Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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