Greeson: Georgia trip will be new Dooley definer

Greeson: Georgia trip will be new Dooley definer

September 19th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley leaves the field in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

There is a slew of reasons to like sports.

Competition. Excellence. Excitement. Winning. Work. Pick a lesson and a component, and sports in general can offer untold wealths and rewards.

It's one of the side benefits beyond the basic aesthetics of athletics.

Two of the great subplots in sports are inertia and response.

Inertia is the scientific fact that things in motion tend to stay in motion and things at rest tend to stay at rest. This is every bit as true in sports, too, and it's the sport-ific definition of momentum. Watch the ebbs and flows of momentum during any sporting event -- it's mesmerizing and telling and a hidden trend that determines success and failure almost as often as talent and tenacity.

As for specific responses, it's interesting to follow how coaches get their teams to respond. How they handle the hurdles and cover the challenges without getting too high after the successes and too low after struggles.

A coach who can guide the ship through the turbulence and triumph of a regular season with an even hand is built for long-term success. Bobby Cox was excellent at it.

So now, the University of Tennessee fan base will get to see how Derek Dooley is at regrouping his troops. The Volunteers as a team had a lot invested in Saturday's Florida game -- as did the fan base -- and the fourth-quarter meltdown has left a stinging pain in the right arm of Johnny Vols Fans everywhere.

Yes, there is a sizable percentage of UT nation that wants Dooley gone today. That's simply not going to happen. It may happen before Christmas, but it's certainly not in the cards in the next week to 10 days. We can see the angst: One UT fan we know simply states that it's hard to trust Dooley emotionally for three hours on a Saturday, and that seems fair in the bigger games on the UT schedule. So for the sake of discussion, we can all agree that Dooley is going to be the coach of the UT football team at least for the next few weeks, right?

So let's evaluate where the Vols go from here. Akron should not be that much of a problem on Saturday, but the trip to Georgia -- to Dooley's hometown, no less -- is shaping up to be the defining moment of his career.

Yes, it seems that Dooley's Vols have a defining game or a season-shaping chance every other week, but so it goes when a coach and a program are searching and starving for a statement moment and a helmet-hanging win.

Good coaches can regroup a team amid challenges, and great coaches can regroup them amid great distractions. The inverse of that is true, too, and if these Vols do not respond with an inspired effort in what will surely be the biggest game in Dooley's coaching career, then we all will see exactly what kind of presence Dooley has in the UT locker room.

The Georgia game represents Dooley's next chance at making UT fans believe he is worth the emotional investment.

It could be one of his last chances.