Majors as Measuring Stick for Dooley

I’ve been laying low after the Vols’ loss against South Carolina. Sick as a dog. Sick from all of the stupidity flying around the Vol Nation via radio, blogs, tweets, message boards, chat rooms – all modes of communication that render patience, and knowledge, an outdated virtue. The 48 hours since the Gamecocks ‘somehow won’, to paraphrase Steve Spurrier, have been like a plume of contaminants spreading at the rate of a swine flu squared.

I inhaled the airborne poison. Breathed it all in, deeply, and suffered a toxic shock of sorts. But I quickly went into rehab (the ‘off’ button is a wonderful, underused strategy), and now I’m back to my ol’ self.

I’m out of Detox. Now, Listen Up!


“Dooley’s in over his head.” “Dooley can’t coach a lick.”

Derek Dooley is the second Vol football coach to wear the orange pants in the family. Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess /

Based on what?

“Dooley is 3-21 vs. teams finishing season with winning records. Dooley is 0-16 vs. Top 25 teams in coaching career.” (Some stellar stats courtesy of Clay Travis)

Enter the Johnny Majors Yardstick.


Instead of subjective argument, here are some simple facts from the coaching records of our Derek Dooley and Johnny Majors.

Remember Johnny Majors? Yes, Johnny Majors, the great former head coach of the Vols who won three SEC championships.

“Why can’t we hire somebody like Johnny Majors?”  “Why can’t we hire a winner, a big-time coach with a big-time record of success?”

We did. After the Bill Battle era ended in 1976 – a point in time when the fortunes of the Vols were at a very deep, dark low point (think 2008, People) – not only did Tennessee hire a new coach, but we hired the hottest coach in America, the one who in 1976 led the Pitt Panthers to the National Championship.

Here’s how it all panned out. Just facts. Do with them as you wish.

  • Majors’ first head coaching stint was at Iowa State (1968-72), where in his first three seasons he produced a record of 11-20 (3-18 Big 8).
  • Dooley’s first head coaching stint was at Louisiana Tech (2007-2009), where three years produced a 17-20 (12-12 conf.) record.
  • Majors inherited many players from Bill Battle’s 1976 Tennessee team that finished 6-5.
  • Dooley inherited many (or not so many) players from Lane Kiffin’s 2009 Tennessee team that finished 7-6.
  • Majors’ first season (1977) produced a record of 4-7 (1-5 SEC). It was the first 7-loss season in the history of Tennessee football.
  • Dooley’s first season (2010) ended with a 6-7 record (3-5 SEC).
  • Majors’ second season ended 5-5-1 (3-3 SEC).
  • Majors’ first four seasons produced the record 21-23-1 (10-14 SEC).
  • Majors’ first ‘breakthrough season’ was not until his 5th: 8-4 in 1981.
  • It took Majors well into his 5th season (a win over Ole Miss on 14 Nov 1981) for his record as Vol head coach to be above the .500 mark.
  • It wasn’t until his 6th season that Majors’ Vols were able to defeat a national power: a 35-28 win over Alabama in 1982.
  • It took Majors seven years to elevate his SEC record to above .500: 21-20-1 after the 1983 season.
  • It wasn’t until his 8th season that Majors’ Vols had a winning single-season SEC record: 4-2 in 1983.
  • It took Majors 9 seasons to win a SEC championship (1985).


Read the facts. Plot the points. Understand our present situation for what it is. Have some historical perspective. And, above all, give the man a chance.



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5 responses to “Majors as Measuring Stick for Dooley”

  1. TK says :

    and johnny was the last vol coach to coach in a tie………maybe dooley should find a tie to match those orange pants. missed the SC game fred. first miss in six years and probably just the second miss in 10. im slowing down i guess just like the vols. AND I HATE NIGHT GAMES!!!!!!!

  2. NorCalVol says :

    He wouldn’t wear a black tie – not in the school colors.

    Must have felt strange watching a home game on the tube. You picked a good one to miss by all measures. Going this Saturday?

  3. Bryant Denny says :

    I think the paradigm has shifted a bit, though your analysis is spot on.

    There are still several good examples around of coaches being given “enough” time, but I think the pressures are too much in the SEC to allow for that and there are too many other schools that have won big with a new coach in a relatively short period of time (e.g. Alabama, Florida, Auburn). The circumstances weren’t exactly the same, though the situation at Auburn probably resembles UT the most.

    Dooley is kind of in a no-win situation. The problem with losing against USC is that most fans know, after the fact, that was a winnable game. On the other hand, if he wins, program expectations probably shoot too high too fast.

    Have a good one,


    • norcalvol says :

      Thanks, BD.
      Expectations are out of control and unreasonable based on circumstances of last few years. But, as you know well, that’s life in the top CFB conference.
      I’ve been aghast at the ‘typical’ expectation for Dooley when hired: first season, we’ll see; second, needs to win 8; third, needs to get to SECCG. Completely unreasonable IMO.
      You’re right: “no-win situation.”
      This year’s expectations got really high after blowing out Cincy.
      Key injuries be damned.

    • norcalvol says :

      BTW: good luck Saturday.

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