Mark Twain and Marcus Garvey weigh in on the Dooley rumors

There is an impressive list of the premature publishing of obituaries.

In 1897, a journalist was sent to enquire about Mark Twain’s health. Fearing that Twain was near death, the journalist eventually found out that it was Twain’s cousin that was very ill. The subsequent famous (mis)quote of Twain’s response, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” punctuated the humor in the misinformation.

Sometimes, such wrong reporting can have serious repurcussions. After suffering a stroke in January 1940, the African American ‘black nationalist’ Marcus Garvey read his obituary in the a Chicago paper, which described him as “broke, alone and unpopular”. Apparently as a result, Garvey suffered a second stroke and died.

As made abundantly clear in Derek Dooley’s meeting with the press on Tuesday, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is still the head coach of the Vols, contrary to rumors that rapidly spread on Monday. Those rumors were started before my post on the subject yesterday. I didn’t start the rumors. But it is fair to say that I may have aided in the spread of them. However, the significance of that would be questionable, considering readership statistics. LOL.

And it also should be stated that Randy Shannon was not announced as Tennessee’s new defensive coordinator today, in a much more widely spread bit of mis-information, aided by a place kicker and several bloggers not including myself.

In yesterday’s post, I made the statement that a person that I know sent me a message saying that Dooley was going to resign. The information received by that person was termed as ‘inside’ information. That of course doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the information is true just because it comes from within. But I chose to believe that it could be true, even though the source of the information acknowledged to me personally that it could all be a groundless rumor. “Crap’ was how it was put. It wouldn’t be the first time that insider information was crap.

I have been a supporter of Derek Dooley throughout his tenure as Vols head coach, even though I have significant reservations about his ability to bring the Vols back to the nation’s elite class. I’ve written more than one story expressing my opinion of the Vol fanbase as being far too impatient and far too critical of Derek Dooley because of that impatience. But, today, that is not important.

What is important is that nobody died, like Marcus Garvey did. I’m not a journalist, and I don’t pretend to be, as some non-journalists do. If I was a journalist, I wouldn’t be so foolish as to publish an unsubstantiated rumor on the site of a news organization. What I did instead was to fully disclose that the message was based on a single, unnamed source. I didn’t say that “Vols in the Fall has learned that…” Thus, it was obvious that such ‘news’ could very well be false.

For three years, this site has been an avenue for expression of views on actual events, not one for delivering news simply for the sake of delivering news, or spreading rumor, simply for the sake of gaining attention. Yesterday, I trusted information to possibly be what it was not – factual. For that, I apologize, but only in the event that my post actually harmed anyone. However, I’m confident that this episode was one from the Mark Twain variety of misinformation and not that of Marcus Garvey. And that is not based on any sources, unnamed or otherwise.



5 responses to “Mark Twain and Marcus Garvey weigh in on the Dooley rumors”

  1. Jan Evett says :

    Couple of thoughts here ….

    1. Your blog deserves to be read. Your analysis and insight are always interesting to me as a Vol fan. I don’t have the time or inclination to do the type of analysis that you do, so I enjoy reading the benefits of your time and study.

    2. Your willingness to share information about the Vols program is one of the things I like best about your blog. I don’t like those writers (journalists or not) who make me feel like they have some kind of deep inside connection that I am not privileged to have – sort of a “cool factor” that leaves me on the outside of the inside circle! That kind of superficial elitism I can live without in the blog-o-sphere!

    3. I appreciate the real time flow of information you shared in your blog posts yesterday. You were clear and upfront about the credibility of your source and the possibility that the information may or may not be accurate. I took it for what it was – passing along info about the Vols program to your readers, Vols fans! No one should have had a problem with your posts.

    So, keep blogging! Are you open to posting your blog links on some of the Facebook Vol fan pages? I think you should, so that other fans can find your blog and start reading. I’m looking forward to reading your other upcoming posts on football in general – other collegiate programs and NFL.

    • norcalvol says :

      Jan, thanks for your detailed and kind comments.

      Yes, it was laid out for what it was, but some people will always read it in their own way. This wasn’t a publicity stunt but simply forwarding information that I really thought credible (note than in three years I have received a lot of information from this source that turned out to be correct, but I never reported it). I don’t really need or want the publicity. I have a lucrative day job and simply host this site because I love to write about sports and love Tennessee football.


      As for Facebook, I’m not on it and at present don’t have the inclination to do it, but thank you for the suggestion. I am on twitter, because I believe that is the future of the present, and it is fun. But it is also where flames are fanned very quickly as is evidenced every day. A dangerous necessity.

      • tk says :

        i got the same information that you posted on your blog of yesterday, so i was fine with what you posted. however my information came from a named source. Mark Twain…… i found out hes been dead for quite a while. i feel so used. in my research however, i found out that Twain majored in Geology!!!!

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