Derek Dooley reflects on what went wrong at Tennessee: “Very few people listened to me”

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Perhaps the most head-scratching hire of the offseason came at Missouri when Barry Odom hired Derek Dooley to be the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator. It was eyebrow-raising for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Dooley has never called plays before right down to his unceremonious exit from the SEC following a disastrous tenure at Tennessee.

Just ahead of the team opening fall camp though, it seems Dooley is doing some opening up himself. In an excellent Q&A with the St. Louis Dispatch, the always colorful coach discussed a number of topics like becoming an athletic director to working for Nick Saban to doing a job that he hasn’t done before. Perhaps the most notable parts of the piece are, as one might expect, Dooley reflecting on his time with the Vols however and he does not disappoint in talking about what went wrong in Knoxville.

“The difference was at Louisiana Tech everybody listened to me and did what I said. At Tennessee very few people listened to me and most of them did something different than what I said. That’s how it is at a lot of big places when you don’t come in empowered as “the guy.” you have to learn how to manage those environments,” said Dooley. “That’s what frustrated me. You can’t even compare the two. You had a lot of division going on between (Phil) Fulmer, (Lane) Kiffin and fans. There was a lot of division on campus. It was a different environment, and I didn’t see it that way but should have.”

Dooley did add that his three years at Tennessee were a “humbling” experience and has made him a better coach.

We’ll certainly find out if that’s the case on November 17 when Missouri heads to Tennessee for what could be a pivotal game for both teams in the race for bowl eligibility. Dooley probably won’t get a super warm welcome for his first trip to Knoxville since being fired by the Vols but at least both sides can take any hard feelings out on the field.