Dooley's challenge

Dooley's challenge

You're Derek Dooley, six months into your tenure as head coach of the Tennessee Vols, and you are starting to relax. You're on vacation with your wife and children, creating memories that will last for decades. Then your phone rings in the early-morning hours. The news is bad:

Da' Rick Rogers, a 5-star wide receiver you signed last February, has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in connection with a 1:50 a.m. brawl at a campus-area bar.

The news gets worse:

First-team safety Darren Myles reportedly fled the scene, resisted arrest and elbowed the face of a police officer who was attempting to handcuff him. This is Myles' second mishap on your watch; he previously was arrested in April on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Incredibly, the news gets still worse:

Of the six potential suspects being detained by police, five are members of your program.

Just when you think the news can get no worse, it does:

Two of the bar's patrons - one an off-duty policeman - were injured seriously enough to be sent to UT Medical Center for treatment. The policeman was found unconscious, lying in the street with a head wound.

The incident is a public-relations nightmare. Adding to the humiliation is the fact you preached the importance of discipline during your first six months on The Hill, even hiring a "character coach" to help instill solid values and ensure appropriate behavior. Now you are forced to deal with behavior that scarcely could be more inappropriate.

Interrupting your vacation, you board a plane bound for Knoxville, gathering more of the ugly details as you fly into the eye of a firestorm.

You are Derek Dooley, and you left Louisiana Tech for this?

Yes, you did. You left for a bigger salary, a bigger program and a bigger stage. Along with those pluses come a few minuses, however - greater demands from the media, greater pressure from the fans and greater problems from the players.

You are learning to deal with the increases in media attention and pressure. Now you must prove you can deal with the increase in problems.

You decide that Myles, being a two-time offender, must be dismissed. You determine that linebacker Greg King and defensive tackle Marlon Walls will be suspended indefinitely, even though they were not mentioned in police reports.

You announce the disciplinary actions in a brief news conference.

Now comes the really difficult part: You must cut through the rumors, the exaggerations and the speculation regarding what happened this morning at Bar Knoxville. You must uncover information that never made it to the police blotter or the news reports.

Finding facts is easy. Finding the truth is harder. But that is your challenge. You are Derek Dooley, six months into your tenure as head coach of the Tennessee Vols, and this is your first big test.

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