Vince Dooley details Dooley, Pruitt eras at Tennessee

Vince Dooley details Dooley, Pruitt eras at Tennessee

Football

Vince Dooley details Dooley, Pruitt eras at Tennessee

ATHENS — Derek Dooley, the former Tennessee head coach, will return to Neyland Stadium when the Vols host Missouri for the final home game of the season.

Dooley was hired in January to be Missouri’s offensive coordinator, coming from the Dallas Cowboys as wide receivers coach.

With two games remaining in the regular season, Dooley’s offense is averaging 35.5 points per game (27th nationally). The Tigers are also fielding a balanced offense behind quarterback Drew Lock (277.5 passing yards per game, 25th nationally) and running back Larry Rountree (195.9 team rushing yards per game, 44th nationally).

With Missouri (6-4, 2-4 SEC) set to take on Tennessee (5-5, 2-4 SEC), Vince Dooley discussed his son returning to UT with Vols Wire.

“They have had a couple of good games the last two weeks,” Dooley said of Missouri beating Florida and Vanderbilt in the last two games.

“He (Derek) has been blessed with a good quarterback,” Dooley said. “I think one of his goals going in was to have balance in the offense and I think they have done that.”

The national championship Georgia head coach talks with his son at times, but Derek primarily goes about coaching in his own way.

“He does his own thing,” Dooley said. “We will visit with him maybe on Monday or something, after the game, and of course he talks to his Mom a lot and his sister is here, as well. They talk to him more than I do.”

The Tennessean, Jan. 10, 2010

The Tennessean, Jan. 10, 2010

Dooley also reflected on his son’s time as Tennessee’s head coach from 2010-12.

“We enjoyed coming up there,” Dooley said. “I met a lot of people and saw some old people again. We enjoyed coming to Knoxville.”

Dooley coached Tennessee to a 15-21 record before being let go with one game remaining in the 2012 season. His time at Tennessee started in January 2010 after a 15-month span of then-UT administration electing to move on from Phillip Fulmer as head coach and then Lane Kiffin leaving UT after one season.

Dooley said that “the timing was not good” for his son at Tennessee and “he was not able to overcome that.”

Dooley’s replacement at Tennessee was Butch Jones. Jones lasted five seasons, compiling a 34-27 record.

This past offseason, Phillip Fulmer returned to UT as director of athletics and hired Jeremy Pruitt from Alabama as head coach. Before being Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 2016-17, Pruitt served in the same capacity at Georgia.

In his first season at UT, Pruitt has defeated two ranked opponents in Auburn and Kentucky.

“He has done very well,” Dooley said of Pruitt. “I always felt like he was a very good football coach, particularly defense, and I think it shows up at Tennessee being able to beat Auburn and Kentucky. Those are two big wins for him, there’s no question he will do a good job there.”

The Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 5, 1963

The Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 5, 1963

Dooley was in a similar situation when he took over as Georgia’s head coach in 1964.

Dooley played at Auburn (1951-53) and was an assistant coach for the Tigers (1956-63) before taking the head coaching job at his alma mater’s rival school.

Pruitt played at Alabama (1995-96) before being an assistant coach for the Crimson Tide (1997, 2007-12, 2016-17) and then taking a head coaching job at a rival school.

Dooley said it was not hard to transition from one school to the other and does not think it was tough for Pruitt either.

“It’s awfully hard for fans to understand,” Dooley said. “While we love our alma mater, we are professionals and we have to take advantage of the opportunity in the profession.

“So once I came to Georgia, I had to commit myself to Georgia, just like Coach Pruitt had to commit himself to Tennessee – because that is your job. Even though you have great respect for where you were, you are now in charge of another program and you have to be totally into that program.”

 

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