Derek Dooley has proven to be a man of few words. He also appears to be a man of action.
If you don’t believe it, ask his predecessor Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin got a dose of his own medicine recently when Dooley reportedly sent a letter to the USC compliance office stating that he and his coaching staff would be recruiting some of the current Trojan football players.
ESPN’s Bruce Feldman confirmed with InsideTennesseee.com on Wednesday afternoon that Dooley indeed sent a letter to USC stating that he would be recruiting a few of the current Trojans.
How many names were on Dooley’s list?
Just a few. In fact it’s being reported that Dooley included every junior and senior eligible to transfer under the NCAA guidelines.
Due to the recent sanctions the NCAA handed down to the storied USC football program, any junior or senior is eligible to transfer to another D1 school and can play this fall without having to sit out a year since part of the penalties included a two-year bowl ban.
There have been several reports and rumors around Knoxville that at least four or five current Trojans have either visited Rocky Top already or will visit soon. No one has confirmed or denied these reports.
For those that aren’t familiar with what Lane Kiffin did to the Volunteer football program, here’s a reminder. After being named the head coach at Tennessee in December of 2008, he spent less than 14 months in Knoxville before bolting in the middle of the night to take a position that he claimed to be his dream job in Southern California.
During his short tenure as the Volunteers’ head coach he created a stir in the SEC by taking potshots at other coaches and racking up at least five secondary violations in the first six months he was on Rocky Top.
In contrast, Dooley and his staff have yet to receive a secondary violation, he hasn’t offended other coaches and fans in the SEC and he has been busy rebuilding a team left in disarray after Kiffin’s abrupt departure so close to National Signing Day in February.
Kiffin even had the audacity to say he left the UT program in much better shape than he found it.
Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton rebuked that observation.
“He did some good things while he was here, but those things don’t outweigh the damage he created by his abrupt departure,” Hamilton said in a recent interview.
Dooley has kept quiet, and no sound bites can be heard coming from him on a daily basis on ESPN or local radio stations. Instead, he has been much more focused on the task at hand, and that’s to make this football program better now.
Dooley also appears to be a man that doesn’t like making excuses. Instead of talking about how bad things are, he is working on fixing and repairing things the best he can.
That includes bringing in at least five new faces that will be eligible this fall, including USC transfer Malik Jackson.
Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive lineman, announced this week he would leave USC and join the Volunteers in Knoxville. He arrived on campus Tuesday and will enroll in summer school at Tennessee on Thursday.
Dooley also recently signed Scout.com’s No. 1 punter in the nation, former USC commitment Matt Darr.
Darr was another prospect not impressed with Kiffin and decided to go elsewhere after he was announced to replace Pete Carroll, who bolted for the NFL.
“I wanted to play for Pete Carroll,” Darr told InsideTennessee.com. “I wasn’t too impressed with the guy that replaced him. I didn’t feel like that was a good fit for me anymore after that.”
One veteran SEC reporter shared his opinion on the situation.
“Karma can bite you in the butt,” the reporter said with a laugh. “It’s taking a major bite out of Lane Kiffin right now. There is no one more deserving than him and his coaching staff.”
If anyone is starting to feel sorry for Kiffin about Dooley raiding his team’s roster, don’t forget what happened the night that Kiffin and his staff revealed they were headed to Los Angeles.
Kiffin announced that he was leaving and taking his father Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron with him. That was on a Tuesday night in January, the evening before the spring semester began on the Tennessee campus.
Several early enrollees on the current Volunteer football team reported that Orgeron called them that night and told them not to go to class the next day and that would allow them to have options to enroll at other schools without strict transfer rules. As it turned out that directive was incorrect. A staff with a slate of NCAA secondary violations didn’t realize that if the players were on campus at 12:01 a.m. that Wednesday and enrolled full time, the eligibility clock started ticking, regardless of whether or not they went to class.
But that attempted backdoor move hasn’t been forgotten by Volunteer fans and apparently it was something that new head coach Derek Dooley didn’t appreciate, either.
Another thing that Kiffin’s hasty exit cost the Vols football program was the loss of defensive tackle Brandon Willis. The South Carolina athlete was en route to Knoxville that night and ended up turning the car around after hearing the news of Kiffin’s resignation. Willis ended up signing with North Carolina.
Only time will tell if the Vols will get any more Trojans on this year’s team, but one thing is for sure. Dooley is a man of action focused on making his team better.
For the Volunteers a man of action is a lot better than a man of words.
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