Derek Dooley’s time is running out after 41-31 loss to Mississippi State

Tennessee went into Saturday’s game against Mississippi State trying to make a statement, trying to get their first conference win of the year, and trying to quiet the rumors that their head coach might not return to the sidelines next year.  Unfortunately, the Vols suffered the same fate that they have so many times before under Coach Dooley, a loss to another top 25 team.  With Saturday’s 41-31 loss to fellow TAM team Mississippi State, Dooley is now 0-13 against top 25 teams and 4-15 against SEC foes since taking over at the University of Tennessee.

The rumors are growing louder and some are beginning to speculate that Dooley will not return for a fourth season as the Volunteers head coach.  “I do not read it or look at it,” Dooley said about the rumors circulating his future with the program.  “I am going to be watching Alabama, and try to give our players a good chance.  That is all you can do in this profession.”

He can try to ignore the whispers all he wants, but the fact of the matter is the Vols (and his coaching career) are in serious trouble.  Coming into Saturday’s contest Tennessee allowed an abysmal 425.8 total yards per game, which was second worst in the SEC.  And in their three conference games this year they are giving up a staggering 492.7 total yards per contest.

“We are not very good right now.  You are what your film is,” Dooley said.  “Three SEC games we are giving up a lot of yards and a lot of points… When you give up a lot of points and a lot of yards it is usually a combination of a lot of things.”

Coach Dooley needs to figure out his defense’s problem quickly because allowing 43 points per game to conference opponents is not going to get the job done in the SEC.

However, the fact that is job security grows more uncertain with every passing day will not deter Dooley, “All you can do is try to get over the hump next week.  That’s what athletics is.  You never know when it is going to happen.  You have to keep coaching, correcting, evaluating, and play your way through it.”

That is a very positive outlook, but if the Vols do not find a way to get over the proverbial “hump” they will not be bowl eligible for the second straight year, have three consecutive losing seasons, and Coach Dooley will be out of a job.

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CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from different college football games throughout the Mid-South.


  1. What makes it worse is that this is a down year for SEC. With the continued dilution of the league, 12 of the 16 teams are average to below — and none of the other 15 has a prayer against Alabama.

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