Who will last longer at his new job: Coach Porter or Coach Dooley?

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of MemphiSport.

MSL hosts Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter debate.

KEVIN: Obviously, one of the state’s two new college football coaches will have to quit or get fired before the other. If I had to pick today, I’d say Derek Dooley lasts longer as the University of Tennessee coach than Larry Porter does as the University of Memphis coach.

MARCUS: That’s not going to happen. Dooley will be out after this season if he doesn’t have a winning record. Porter could lose for four years in a row and still keep his job.

KEVIN: Fired after one season? No way! How many seasons are you predicting for Porter? UT is under too much scrutiny from the NCAA to fire a squeaky clean coach after one season. Besides, Vol fans are rallying around Dooley. No one has ever been loved so much for not being Lane Kiffin.

MARCUS: I give Dooley maybe two seasons. By mistake, the Vols will go 6-6 this year. I give Porter five seasons.  By that time, he will either be fired or so successful that he’ll take another job.

KEVIN: You have such specific predictions. You are like Memphis’ version of Miss Cleo.

MARCUS: I’m on it. In five years, you will see that I’m correct.

KEVIN: Isn’t the point of hiring a hometown guy like Porter is so he doesn’t take another other job?

MARCUS: Yes. But money and big conferences talk. No matter how much he wins, Porter will always be No. 2 in Memphis to Josh Pastner. And he is a guy that drives to be No. 1. Dooley was No. 1 when he stepped on campus because in Knoxville football is everything. Memphis fans don’t have the same love for their football team.

KEVIN: If Porter is successful, he could be No. 1 in Memphis. It’s not as far-fetched as some people believe. For a long time, this city has been starved for good football. Memphis is a basketball town in college football country.

MARCUS: In C-USA, Porter just needs to field an average team and that will be good enough to win some games and make a bowl. Remember, Tommy West led the Tigers to bowl games in seasons where they went 0-3 against teams from the Sun Belt conference.

KEVIN: Porter’s schedule is already harder than West’s schedules. Goals and expectations have changed for Tiger fans, especially one Tiger fan in particular who was publicly against the Porter hire- Fred Smith.

MARCUS: If UT goes 5-7, Dooley is out. If Memphis goes 5-7, the fans are singing in the streets.

KEVIN: That’s preposterous. No Tiger fan is singing in the street at a 5-7 season. Right now, there are only two events that would lead Tiger football fans to celebrate like that–beating UT or going to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

MARCUS: If Memphis beats UT, Porter gets four more years and Dooley gets the boot. Dooley isn’t just on a short leash, he has no leash at all.

KEVIN: Tennessee has a history of patience with coaches. Phillip Fulmer lost to the Tigers and stayed there 17 years. In that time, Memphis had three different head coaches.

MARCUS: Fulmer did lots of good while at UT, had one bad season, then was forced out. There is no competition in C-USA. Porter will be at Memphis longer on that alone. He will have an easier path to winning.

KEVIN: It may be easier to win in C-USA, but it is easier to recruit at UT. Not to mention, Dooley has the media on his side in Knoxville. Porter got off to a bad start in the Bluff City and has ticked off the local media with his unique policies.

MARCUS: Porter is a Memphis guy, a former Tiger running back. They aren’t going to do him wrong and give him a quick axe.

KEVIN: I am not saying he is getting a quick axe. I’m saying Porter is in the worse situation. Winning at Memphis is not easy. When you add up all the program’s preexisting problems up with the Cannon Smith quarterback controversy and the local media being unfairly against him, the deck is definitely stacked against Porter.

MARCUS: West lasted lots longer than he should have. Which is why Porter will last longer than maybe he should, no matter how he does on the field. There is no way Dooley is the guy UT wanted to hire. I think in some ways they want him to fail so they can bring in someone they really want.  Dooley is not a traditional SEC coach.

KEVIN: Dooley is more of an SEC coach than his predecessor was. Kiffin was more of a Tosh.0 look-a-like than he was an SEC coach.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter can be heard every week on MSL on Sports 56 WHBQ. Podcasts of the show can be found online at memphisport.net.

Photo by Chase Gustafson.

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