Posted by Tom Fornelli
Tennesse head coach Derek Dooley hasn't been at Tennessee all that long, but he's routinely one of the more entertaining coaches to listen to every summer during SEC Media Days. Much like his father, Vince Dooley, Derek isn't exactly afraid to speak his opinion on a subject, particularly when he feels strongly about something.
When Dooley faced the media on Thursday, there was one topic that sent him off onto a long, thoughtful answer. Dooley was asked what he thought about the SEC's new policy of having a uniform discipline policy when it comes to players, and also on the idea of one-year renewable scholarships to multi-year scholarships.
Dooley started by addressing the scholarship issue.
"You know, I get a kick out of a lot of these issues. They're fun to read about. A scholarship is a contract. I mean, that's what it is. It's a contract between two parties. Both parties have obligations to do things to continue the contract.
"I hear about how it's so awful when a player gets a scholarship taken away. I'm sitting there going, Universities give academic scholarships all the time, and if a student doesn't meet certain academic requirements, they take it away from them.
"It's no different to me in athletics. We have a commitment to them, and they have a commitment to us. So we're giving them a benefit and they're giving us a benefit. That's why it's a contract.
"So I think how we have things is good, it's fair. It is one year. It's renewable. I think the market takes place when a team is abusing that situation. If a coach is just taking away scholarships, kicking people off the team, the market is going to take care of it in recruiting. Who is going to want to go play for the guy? Allow the market to act."
Obviously, there are some differences between academic scholarships and athletic scholarships. For starters, while both can be taken away, academic scholarships come with set guidelines for what you need to do to keep that scholarship. Athletic scholarships have a lot more gray area. Still, Dooley did make some interesting points in his response.
Just like he did when he tackled the player discipline issue.
"It goes back to what you believe philosophically. Are we going to allow the institutions and programs to set their rules, then allow the market to handle which way they go and the success they have, or are we going to take over and define what everybody does all the time? I think it's absurd to have across-the-board disciplinary measures when you're talking about dealing with young people.
"Otherwise what we need to do is get off the campuses and form us a little college league like the NFL if we're going to go in that direction. Then it's one group, we represent the college football league, not the school, we're all the same, we all wear the same sideline gear except the color of everything. It's all uniform.
"That's what makes college unique. We got programs that have $100 million competing with programs that have $10 million. Things aren't level. Things aren't equal. That's just the way it is. I think that's a unique thing, fun. Makes great fodder for the fans, brings pride to the institution because of their uniqueness. I don't think that's something we should be ashamed of."
Dooley then finished his answer in typical Dooley fashion, drawing a laugh from the entire room.
"I don't even know if I answered your question."
No doubt Dooley's comments about forming "a little college league like the NFL" caused a few ears across the country to perk up, as there are some who believe that may be the direction that college sports are taking. The idea that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the BCS will separate from the NCAA entirely to form its own league.
Some other highlights from Derek Dooley's session:
On his relationship with Will Muschamp - "Will and I are good friends. Of course, we talked a lot. I know he told you guys that prior to him getting the job at Florida. We still stay in touch. Not as much, obviously. We certainly don't talk about the same things we did before."
"Of course, I had mixed feelings. I was proud of him. He deserved it. He's earned it. But I'd rather him been at Texas because he's a friend of mine. I mean, that's just how it is. "
On Tennessee's search for a new athletic director, and the performance of interim AD Joan Cronan - "Yeah, I've had a lot of contact with Joan. Joan has been phenomenal. When Joan took over at interim athletics director, I thought it was very important to try to define for her three or four things where she could help us before we hired a new athletics director. She has responded beautifully. She has done a phenomenal job of kind of running the ship in the interim phase. "
"I am not involved in the hiring process, nor should I be, because it's going to be my boss. I've appreciated Dr. [Jimmy] Cheek's communication with me at every step, which he has. I've appreciated his asking questions on what I thought was important. I know that he's going to make a great decision for Tennessee."
On recruiting services - "The biggest role they play is providing video to evaluate players. You know, in the old days, I say 'the old days,' I'm a young guy. The old days were like 10 years ago to me. You got your film from a high school coach. So when you went to the schools, you would share video.
"With technology, with digital, it's been a lot easier. There's a better way where the high school coach can one time send his games to a service, and then that service can send it out to all the colleges."
"We spend a lot of money on it. I don't apologize for that. We recruit across the country. We have to stretch our wings out pretty far and need to get video from a lot of areas to build our board.
"But we do try to stay fiscally responsible that the services we are using are giving us a little return on the back end."
On the SEC East's decline compared to the SEC West - "I don't have a theory other than to say I've been watching SEC football all of my life, as you guys know, and everything goes in cycles, it always does. Programs have their great runs. Programs have their bumps along the way. I don't think that's ever going to change. I mean, that's the competitive nature of our sport.
"So certainly the east looked a little different last year than it has in the past. But we'll see how it turns out this year."
"Here is what I do know: every time you think a team is down, they emerge and they whip your tail. Every time you think a team's on top, things probably don't go their way.
"What I can't do is concern myself with where the other programs are. We have to concern ourselves with where we are as a program, and each week try to figure out a way to beat that team because we only have to be better than them on one day of the year. That's what our focus is."
SEC Media Days will conclude tomorrow with Nick Saban, James Franklin, Houston Nutt and Les Miles all scheduled to address the media. Keep reading CBSSports.com and the Eye On College Football Blog for continued coverage.