published Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Greeson: New Vols coach Dooley decisive, still investigating

The words are easy to embrace. Phrases such as "a change in culture" and sound bites like "discipline and education" are rallying cries for new coaches.

Programs can be defined by such mantras, but the foundation of building -- or rebuilding in the case of the University of Tennessee football team -- comes from doing. Actions rather than words form the blocks on which success must start.

First-year UT coach Derek Dooley did a little of each Friday in the hours following the brawl that occurred at the Bar Knoxville and included no fewer that eight of his Volunteers.

Dooley said he was embarrassed and disappointed, echoing the sentiments of a fan base that has been forced to ride an emotional roller coaster in the program's recent attempts to return to its not-so-distant days of glory.

The Vols Nation severed ties two years ago with Phillip Fulmer, a son of the program who worked like heck but seemed to run out of answers. The Vols Nation eagerly sold its soul for Lane Kiffin, a fly-by-night temptress who peddled snake oil and big talk before heading West and leaving Knoxville in chaos. The Vols Nation is cautiously hopeful for Dooley, who is the son of SEC royalty and learned the profession working for current SEC king Nick Saban.

Any positive momentum for Dooley -- be it public relations successes or the surprisingly strong signing class delivered last February at the 11th hour -- were undone Friday morning.

Throughout the day news trickled in from police departments and hospitals -- not exactly the two locales from which football fans want to be getting updates, mind you. And little of it was good.

When the smoke cleared, there was Dooley, the former lawyer turned football coach, standing at the podium looking more the part of his previous profession than his current one.

Dooley said he met with every player involved in the incident. He dismissed Darren Myles Jr., which seemed to be the obvious decision for the talented safety who has had two run-ins with the law in the last three months. Linebacker Greg King and defensive tackle Marlon Walls were suspended indefinitely for unspecified roles in the fracas.

"It hurts our team," Dooley said, referring equally to the on-field and off-the-field aspects to the decisions of Friday. "A lot of people get hurt when you do things that are not right."

Dooley noticeably did not mention star recruit Da'Rick Rogers, the crown jewel of Dooley's recruiting class who spurned his longstanding commitment to Georgia on the eve of signing day, and the silence seemed to emphasize Rogers' unknown role in the event.

Like Myles, Rogers was arrested Friday. Unlike his former teammate, though, Rogers has not been in legal trouble in Knoxville before and can still call himself a Vol this morning.

At least for the time being. The Internet accounts on Rogers' role ranged from one of the ringleaders to an alleged peacemaker. There seems little doubt that Dooley is continuing to gather information on the events and could add to the list of those punished.

"Sometimes you have to fall really hard to really get it," Dooley said Friday. "We want to change everybody, but the reality is, we've seen there have been a lot of headlines here, and you have to hit really hard to figure it out."

Dooley's first scheduled game in Knoxville is less than two months away, but his first true test as UT's coach was Friday. The outcome, though, is still undecided because there is still work to be done -- both within the locker room and in the eyes of the fan base.

If this is the bottom of the Vols' fall, however, then Friday could be called a come-from-behind first step for Dooley and the program -- something that seemed impossible only hours ago.

"Next time we'll be in front of you it'll be a little better news," Dooley said, ending Friday's news conference.

Dooley -- and Vols fans everywhere -- had better hope so.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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jacbue said...

I dont know anything for sure about D'Rick Rogers except that he has a funny first name. However, when they signed him at UT, I read some of the posts on GVX. I guess some of the people knew something about him. Anyway, the comments did not reflect "good citizenship". Since then I have had a bad feeling about him, notwithstanding his five star status.

July 12, 2010 at 4:54 p.m.
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