Tennessee hires Dooley
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Derek Dooley has the Southern accent, the coaching pedigree and is doing his best to reassure Tennessee fans their new coach appreciates where he's working.
"How can you ask for anything more than the University of Tennessee?" Dooley said yesterday.
The son of longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley was introduced as the Vols' second new head coach in 14 months, replacing Lane Kiffin days after he bolted for Southern California. Among his first challenges will be reassuring fans and players that he wants to be at Tennessee.
"The times of worrying about what happened is over," Dooley said.
Dooley talked about how he learned early that Tennessee represented the essence of college football, and remembers watching the weekly television shows of former coaches Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer. He also promised he will not try to sell Tennessee in a sound bite, perhaps taking a shot at Kiffin, who was reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference for brash comments.
"Everything we're going to do is going to be done with a foundation of integrity with every aspect of the program," Dooley said. "We're going to represent this institution with class on and off the field."
Dooley was offered the job yesterday afternoon, resigned as coach and athletic director of Louisiana Tech, and flew into Knoxville for the late news conference.
Like his predecessor, Dooley comes with a short head coaching resume.
He went 17-20 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and was the only coach in major college football to also serve as the athletic director. He holds a law degree and previously worked for several years under Nick Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.
GERHART'S GOING PRO
Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart is entering the NFL draft instead of staying at Stanford for a fifth season.
Gerhart made his announcement yesterday, saying he is dropping out of school immediately to prepare for the NFL combine next month and the draft. Gerhart could have stayed for a fifth year because he played just one game in 2007 because of a knee injury.
"We've been through a lot of adversity during my time here, but I'm extremely proud to have been part of the class that brought Stanford football back to national prominence," Gerhart said.
Gerhart ran for a school-record 1,871 yards and a nation-leading 28 touchdowns this past season. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back and finished second in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama's Mark Ingram in the closest vote in history.
Arizona: Tight end Rob Gronkowski will skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski missed all of last season after back surgery Sept. 24. He said that he received clearance from the surgeon who performed the microdiscectomy.
BYU: Running back Harvey Unga, who led the Mountain West Conference in rushing last fall with 1,087 yards, says he's staying for his final season. Unga is already the Cougars' career rushing leader with 3,455 yards in three seasons.
Duke: Amid reports that he was a candidate for the opening at Tennessee, David Cutcliffe, a former Volunteers assistant, said yesterday he would remain as coach of Duke. Duke athletic director Kevin White said Cutcliffe told him that he "intends to remain the Duke football coach for a long time."
Georgia: After a six-week search, Dallas Cowboys line coach Todd Grantham was hired yesterday as defensive coordinator. Grantham is in his second year with the Cowboys after spending three years as defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jacket hired former Virginia coach Al Groh as its defensive coordinator. Groh agreed to terms yesterday, the school said, staying in the ACC after nine years as the Cavaliers' head coach. He was fired shortly after Virginia completed a 3-9 season, its worst since 1982.
Louisiana Tech: Louisiana Tech appointed offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo to be its interim football coach and formed a committee to find a full-time replacement for Derek Dooley. Louisiana Tech president Dan Reneau said deputy athletic director Bruce Van De Velde will be the acting athletic director.
UCLA: Kicker Kai Forbath is returning for his senior season. Forbath won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker last season, and was a second-team AP All-American.