Derek Dooley reached out to the Volunteer football players and fan base Friday night, telling them…
Dooley has impressive demeanor
Just 72 hours after Lane Kiffin betrayed the Tennessee faithful the Orange and White have a new man at the helm. Derek Dooley was introduced as Tennessee's head football coach Friday evening and addressed the media from Neyland Stadium. "I would like to thank everyone that was involved in this process. I am humbled, I am honored to stand before you as the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee," said Dooley. "As most of you know I grew up in this conference. I grew up in the SEC and it didn't take me long as a youngster to realize that Tennessee was the essence of college football." Dooley's Southern drawl seemed to win over the Tennessee audience within moments of being introduced. Dooley's approach on his first day seemed to be the anti-Kiffin approach, which for some was met with open arms. "I am looking forward to being in this league. I want you all to know I have a lot of respect for this league, I have a lot of coaches in this league, and I am always going to conduct myself in that manner," said Dooley. I think you can have positive relationships with other coaches, you can show respect for other coaches and still keep the competitive edge." Dooley said that just three years prior to accepting the coaching job on Rocky Top he made a decision to take a risk that will pay dividends for him as Tennessee's head football coach. "Three years ago I had a choice. Here we were at the Miami Dolphins knowing that Nick (Saban) was about to go to Alabama, and I could go one of two directions," said Dooley. "There was a part of me that said stay in the comfort zone and sit tight and hopefully one day, as I had goals and aspirations to be a head coach, I can wait and that will come, but that really isn't who I am. I felt like I needed to develop more for when I got this opportunity. I did take a little bit of a risk. I took the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech. I am grateful to them for the opportunity that they gave me." Dooley felt no need to sell himself or Tennessee's football program. The new head coach made it clear that Tennessee sells itself. "I am not going to sell this program and what we are going to do in a sound bite, it's impossible," said Dooley. "I can tell you this. Everything we are going to do is going to be with a foundation of integrity in every aspect of the program. We are going to represent this program with class on and off the field and we are going to be a fun team to watch." As a family man, Dooley also made it clear that tearing up his roots is not easy for him or the people around him, but he knew no statement could comfort the Tennessee faithful given the recent events surrounding the football program. "Its a very emotional thing to do to leave a place for me. When you put your heart in something it's a difficult thing to leave," said Dooley. "My family is important to me. This is exactly the kind of town that we want to live in. How can you ask for anything more than the University of Tennessee? I wish I could sit here and give you a one-liner that is going to convince 100 percent of the fans, but that is never going to happen." Dooley could only offer that the opportunity he has been presented with is one that is met with extreme excitement. "I have never been more excited than about the future for my family, for a program, and for living than I am right now," said Dooley. And while the Tennessee faithful have listened to thoughts of dynamic and untouchable coaching staffs the new leader on Rocky Top places little importance on name recognition when hiring his peers. "This whole putting together the best staff in the country, every staff member can't be a headliner to make a good staff, because a good staff is a team," said Dooley. "What I am more concerned about is who wants to be here, who is going to believe, and how we are going to run our organization." Dooley sympathized with his new football players for the struggles that they have endured over the last two years of their young lives, but he assured them that it is only the start of many trials and tribulations they will face. "I think it is a great lesson in life. Was it an unfortunate situation for them? Of course it is. They have gone through two tough years, but if you think this is as hard as it gets in life ... look out," said Dooley. "Life is tough. You are going to get knocked down a bunch. And the quicker you learn to react to it and dust your britches off and move forward the quicker you will move to happiness." There are many questions that face Dooley's head coaching career in Knoxville, but one thing is for certain. There is no sunny California in this Southern workhorse.
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