Wednesday August 24th, 2011

Derek Dooley is a weird guy. This is not a slight. Mike Leach and Les Miles are strange fellows in much the same fashion, and they have turned out all right. Dooley's a big ol' nerd, a former practicing lawyer trained to think steps ahead. One of the problems with his new gig is that he doesn't always remember to take the rest of the room with him. With three lessons in our hip pockets now to choose from, let's all start waiting a couple days after every perceived Precious misfire before hauling off and slugging him in the blogosphere, OK? He's weird, but he's never quite as weird as we think he is. It bodes well to wait.

You may recall the freshman Tennessee coach making headlines last season for ostensibly comparing his squad to Nazis. He didn't, exactly, and even the local paper didn't realize right away what he was up to. You wouldn't have caught his Rommel reference without having seen the 1962 Academy Award-winning film The Longest Day. (Check it out, if you're a WWII buff or just like war movies.) To the layperson's way of thinking, being well-versed in midcentury historical dramas shouldn't be necessary to understand what one's beloved team's head ballcoach is saying. To Dooley, it might never occur to him that everybody hasn't seen that movie and every other he might care to reference. As a fevered devotee of made-for-cable creature films that show up on the SciFi channel at 2 a.m., I like that about him.

This week, a two-fer of would-be PR faceplants: Does Tennessee have a sign reading "OPPORTUNITY IS NOWHERE" in its locker room? And did Dooley mean he wants all his players to be charged with manslaughter when he said former player Leonard Little represents what Tennessee football is all about?

No, y'all. Of course he didn't. It's the internet, but it's also Derek Dooley's Tennessee. There's always a little more to the story.

Of Little's renewed presence in the program, Dooley clarified to the News-Sentinel:

He epitomizes Vol for Life, because the program doesn't give up on you. He even offered to come talk to our team, and I'm going to get him to come talk to our team, about where he was at that low point and how he came out of it.

And "OPPORTUNITY IS NOW HERE" is the awkwardly-phrased message splashed across a pair of facility doors in Knoxville, but let's get some kerning on that text next time, right, fellas? Hey, like Vols beat writer Wes Rucker, I'm just pleasantly surprised everybody on the team can read it. Tune in next week, when Dooley will espouse the virtues of cannibalism at a church picnic or something, and we'll all get to have our fun again before realizing he's making a salient point about man's inhumanity to man.

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