Dooley's seat is red hot.
A few more mistakes, interceptions or losses, and basketball will become the new topic of conversation—and Dooley will be a former coach.
We all knew he was on the hot seat at the beginning of the season, but that doesn't compare to what will happen if Tennessee loses to, well, anyone else. Losses to Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Caroline have become hardly acceptable, and Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are must-wins.
While wins over N.C. State and Georgia State worked like ice over hot coals at the beginning of the season, Dooley lost all hope when Tyler Bray fell apart in the second half of the Florida game, and Saturday's game against Akron left much to be desired.
Fans will call for his job if things don't pick up.
Which is unfortunate.
Yes. The argument has been made that Dooley was handed the perfect opportunity. He had skilled athletes. He had a home field advantage. He had an opposing team who's quarterback was nothing special and he still lost. The argument has been made that he missed that opportunity, that he can't win, even with everything in his favor. But should one game be the determining factor here? Should it be the fulcrum that Dooley's seat sits on—leaning fans from positive to negative?
Tennessee has won games they should have won and lost a game they could have won. That's normal to any football program. Fans are looking for a 1998 team that just isn't there. We don't have the talent.
Don't get me wrong.
The Vols have some talented players, but I would argue that they're not National Championship material. Yes, Cordarrelle Patterson is gifted, Tyler Bray's arm should be bronzed and Justin Hunter could be in the Olympics. Literally. But going back to the glory days takes time.
Tennessee, Dave Hart and Dooley are building a team. They're putting together a puzzle and there's a few pieces missing right now. Our team isn't 1998 caliber, but the puzzle is almost finished, and when the holes are filled it's going to be a beautiful thing. A National Championship is down the road—not far, but not here yet.
Fans should stop and think. They should consider what has happened in the realm of UT sports in the last ten years and stop breathing down Dooley's neck. He needs time to mold something out of nothing.