Head Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley addressed the local media in regards to his team’s most recent run-in with local police in the aftermath of a bar brawl.
Dooley had two words to describe his feelings on the incident - disappointed and embarrassed.
“I am disappointed and embarrassed in many ways in the lapses of judgment by several members of our football team last night,” said Dooley.
Dooley maintained that playing football for the University of Tennessee carries responsibilities.
“It’s a privilege not a right to be a member of this football team, to be a member of the University of Tennessee football team," Dooley said.
Dooley said that no matter what the legal outcome of Friday morning’s bar brawl may be his standards are much higher than that of the written law.
“What is important to know is that our standard of conduct is much greater than what the legal standard is," he said. "I have met with every player that was there and I have made a few decisions on some things that have no bearing on the legal part of it. I think that is important to know that.”
On Friday evening, Dooley announced that safety Darren Myles Jr. was dismissed from the team. In addition, defensive tackle Marlon Walls and linebacker Greg King have both been indefinitely suspended.
“We have dismissed Darren Myles from our football team," Dooley said. "We have indefinitely suspended Marlon Walls and Greg King.”
Dooley also said that other actions will be taken internally for other players involved in the incident. He added that his personal investigation is ongoing. And while internal action may be taken, that doesn’t mean a player has broken the law.
“There were other actions that were taken internally and there is also a period where we are continuing to find out exactly what happened just like everybody else," Dooley said. "It takes time to gather all the information about all the parties involved. What is important to know is, just because I suspended someone, doesn’t necessarily mean they broke the law.”
While Friday may have been a major setback in Dooley’s disciplinary program the head coach won't disregard what he says is progress in the overall development of his football team.
“What I will say is that there have been a lot of positive things that have happened in our program in the last few months and a lot of positive changes in our culture," he said. "We are not going to let this incident ruin the positive changes that have happened. We are going to continue to build our structures so that we educate, discipline and support our players.
“At the end of the day we are going to have a culture here that isn’t just going to win, but one our fans can be proud of.”
Dooley and his coaching staff assured the Tennessee faithful that action will be taken against those who are in the wrong, but afterwards he, the staff and team will continue with the tasks at hand.
“We are going to take action and we are going to be swift about it," Dooley said. "Then we are going to move on.”
The loss of Myles will no doubt affect the Tennessee football team, but the head coach said the hurt is much more widespread than an individual or a team.
“It hurts our team," Dooley said. "You hurt a lot of people when you do things that aren’t right. It’s not just Darren that is hurting. I had to sit there and watch his mother cry, who is hurting, and his family is hurting. I know his father is hurt. I am sure his hometown is disappointed.
"Our team is hurting, he has a lot of friends on the team and we are going to be hurting competitively.”
Dooley maintained that despite public opinion the culture of a program is often viewed much worse than is truly the case.
“I think that a lot of the culture is probably perceived worse than it is," he said. "And it always is because we have a lot of great young men who want to do right and are doing right.”
But the head coach also refused to “stick his head in the sand,” regarding the culture problem.
“We can’t just stick our heads in the sand and say we are OK, just one or two guys did this," Dooley said. "I never stick my head in the sand.”
Tennessee fans will hear from their head coach in just two weeks at Hoover, Ala., during SEC Media Days.