Head Coach Derek Dooley
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Born: June 10, 1968 (Athens, Ga.)
Wife: Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley
Children: John Taylor, Peyton and Julianna
Clarke Central High School (Athens, Ga.)
University of Virginia, 1991
University of Georgia Law School, 1994
Wide Receiver, University of Virginia, 1987-90
1996 – Georgia Grad. Asst., Defensive Backs
1997 – SMU Wide Receivers Coach
1998-99 – SMU Wide Rec./Co-Recruiting Coord.
2000-02 – LSU Recruiting Coordinator/Tight Ends
2003 – LSU Running Backs/Special Teams
2004 – LSU Asst. HC/Running Backs/ Spec. Tms
2005-06 – Miami Dolphins Tight Ends Coach
2007-09 – Louisiana Tech Head Coach
2010 – Tennessee Head Coach
The Dooley Family
Derek Dooley with his wife, Allison, and children (L to R) Peyton, Julianna and John Taylor
Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley enters his third season on Rocky Top in 2012, and his efforts in building a foundation for long-term success for Tennessee football have the Volunteers primed for a leap forward this fall. Dooley, 44, has reshaped the culture of the Tennessee program since his arrival with his energetic personality, meticulous approach and belief in the dedication to both the character and on-field development of the student-athlete.
The bright future on the horizon for UT football was exemplified by performances from talented freshmen classes. During the last two seasons, Tennessee has played 47 freshmen, including 32 true freshmen, the latter of which ties with Florida’s total for the most in the nation since the beginning of the 2010 season. The Vols also started a school-record seven true freshmen against Memphis in 2010.
The infusion of talented young players, almost all of whom will play significant roles on the 2011 team, began shortly after Dooley was named Tennessee’s 22nd football coach on Jan. 15, 2010. Dooley’s first two recruiting classes include the SEC’s leading receiver in 2011 and a first-team All-SEC selection in Da’Rick Rogers, six Freshman All-Americans, and eight players who were named Freshman All-SEC over the last two seasons. Additionally, Freshman All-American linebackers A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt ranked first and second, respectively, among SEC freshman tackle leaders per game in 2011. Tennessee was the only team in Division I FBS in 2011 with three freshmen (true or redshirt) among its top five tackle leaders.
Also during Dooley’s tenure, quarterback Tyler Bray has thrown 35 touchdown passes in two seasons and set the school record for highest completion percentage in a game. Bray has thrown for 300-plus yards in six games and threw for multiple touchdowns in 10 consecutive games. As a freshman in 2010, Bray set school records for passing yards (308) and touchdowns (5) in a single half while also setting the school mark for passing yards by a freshman with 1,537.
Additionally, offensive linemen who are new to the program since Dooley’s arrival have combined to make 80 starts during the 2010-11 seasons.
Freshman wide receiver Justin Hunter also set a Tennessee freshman record with seven receiving touchdowns and averaged a team-best 25.9 yards per catch in 2010. Before suffering a season-ending injury in the Florida game, Hunter averaged 151 yards receiving for the first two games of the 2011 season and is primed to return to be a major contributor to the Vols’ big-play offense this fall.
The 2011 Vols scored 40-plus points in three of their first four games, while the 2010 team featured a big-play offense that produced 71 plays of 20-plus yards, 19 of which were touchdowns, a significant increase from the 2009 totals of 61 plays of 20-plus yards, 10 of which went for touchdowns. Dooley also led the 2010 team, competing roughly 15-20 scholarship players below the established limit of 85, to the Music City Bowl.
The increased commitment to excellence in all facets of the program is also present in the under-construction, state-of-the-art, $40 million Football Training Center scheduled to open this summer. The facility, redesigned by Dooley upon his arrival, will be the finest of its kind of the nation. He also established a new academic accountability system shortly after accepting his current position.
Determined to make immediate strides in changing the culture of the program, Dooley created the Vol for Life (VFL) program, a comprehensive player support and character education program, in his first year at Tennessee. The four-year VFL curriculum focuses on the often-overlooked personal growth of the student-athlete, encompassing the following topics: character education, personal finance, life skills, career development, spiritual growth, community service, mental conditioning, personal branding, and navigating the social media landscape.
The ultimate goal of the VFL program, in Dooley’s eyes, is to reshape the culture of the program into one that produces not only great players and teams, but even greater men. The program has not only helped to build the bond between teammates, but also between the Tennessee football team and the Knoxville community. In addition to charitable work with groups such as Habitat for Humanity, the Vols have partnered with other local leaders and organizations, including spending time with the Knoxville Police Department to learn about the challenges that face law enforcement.
Dooley has led by example as well, speaking at numerous events throughout Knoxville and the entire state of Tennessee to help raise more than $1,000,000 for children and other causes in the local community.
Before his arrival in Knoxville, Dooley served as the head coach at Louisiana Tech during the 2007- 09 seasons and also doubled as the school’s athletic director for the last two years of his tenure in Ruston. As the head coach of the football team, Dooley’s tenure was highlighted by an 8-5 mark in 2008, including the school’s first postseason victory in 30 years at the Independence Bowl. Tech finished second in the WAC that season and played in a bowl game for only the third time since joining the major college ranks in 1989. For his efforts, the Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association named him 2008 Coach of the Year.
The only athletics director serving as head football coach on the major college level at that time, he was able to organize efforts to negotiate a new team apparel agreement, contract a multimedia rights deal, rebrand the Louisiana Tech athletic logos, and significantly upgrade facilities, including finalizing plans and launching a campaign for a new football training center and the addition of both a state-of-the-art HD video scoreboard and a new FieldTurf surface at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Additionally, Dooley also restructured the athletic foundation by creating LTAC, Team Tech 100 and the new LA Tech Kids Club, all of which contributed to an increase of annual giving by more than 150 percent. Net corporate sponsorship revenue also increased by 123 percent during his first year as athletic director, and Dooley also oversaw a restructuring of the ticket operation and the implementation of an online ticketing system, the first in school history, all of which led to a 51 percent increase in ticket sales and a new record for football season tickets.
The youngest son of Georgia legend Vince Dooley, who coached the Bulldogs for 25 seasons and claimed six league titles and the 1980 national championship, Dooley never accepted the predetermined path to success. He played his college football at Virginia, turning down scholarship offers elsewhere to walk on and later earn his own scholarship from Cavaliers head coach George Welsh.
As a wide receiver, Dooley earned that scholarship after his second season and went on to help the Cavaliers to three bowl appearances and the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. In 1990, he was named first team Academic All-ACC and helped Virginia to a Sugar Bowl bid against Tennessee. During his playing career, Dooley caught 41 passes for 604 yards and three touchdowns. His level of play was such in the 1990 season that he was invited to and participated in the Senior Bowl.
He graduated that year with a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs, and then went on to earn his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1994. Before embarking on his coaching career, Dooley practiced law at a private law firm in Atlanta for two years.
After a successful start to the legal profession, Dooley switched gears and returned to his love of football, beginning his coaching career in 1996 as a graduate assistant at Georgia under defensive coordinator Joe Kines. He then served from 1997-99 as wide receivers coach and co-recruiting coordinator at SMU, where Dooley helped the Mustangs to the school’s only winning season over a 20-year stretch.
Dooley joined the staff at LSU under Nick Saban in 2000, serving as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2000-02 and then running backs coach and special teams coordinator from 2003-04. He helped the Tigers land No. 1 classes in 2001 and 2003.
The Tigers won SEC championships both of those seasons, claimed the BCS national championship in 2003, and Saban promoted Dooley to assistant head coach for the 2004 campaign. Dooley then left with Saban for the Miami Dolphins, serving as tight ends coach from 2005-06. During his two years in the NFL, Dooley oversaw the continued development of tight end Randy McMichael, who ended his Dolphins career as the team’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end.
Dooley is married to Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley, an OB/GYN and Fort Worth, Texas, native. They have two sons, John Taylor (13) and Peyton (10) and a daughter, Julianna (8).
Allison is active in fundraising and serves on the Board of Directors locally for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Imagination Library. The Dooleys also host the Big Orange Experience, an annual fundraising event for Variety, an organization that provides financial support for numerous children’s charities. This June, proceeds from the event funded the Dooley-Witten Learning Center at the Halls/Powell Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley.