Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There's no easy, clever way to introduce this remarkable story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, so we'll get right to the details: Derek Dooley attempted to inspire his struggling Tennessee team Tuesday by having a ceramic orange dog statue wheeled around practice on a dolly.
"It's just a reminder, you know, when you get something in your mind that is negative or you get down on yourself," Dooley said of the statue. After his team's 49-7 loss to Arkansas Saturday, Dooley refused to let his team watch the game tape and told them they needed to feed the "orange dog," a symbol of positive thinking, instead of the "red dog," its negative opposite.
"You've got one side that wants to be negative and wants to feel sorry for yourself and wants to make excuses and blame others," Dooley said. "Then you've got another side who thinks good thoughts and has a lot of encouragement, is a little more solution-oriented and isn't so emotionally drawn to the results. That's the side we need to feed ourselves with."
So what did this dog statue look like? Via the Vols' official athletics site, here's a photo of it being moved on its dolly:
As for the players' reactions, it doesn't sound like Tyler Bray is taking it too seriously--though at least it has his attention. Defensive end Marlon Walls seemed to get the message, though.
"When I first saw it, I laughed about it. But at the same time, I thought, 'This is something serious. We've got to learn how to be more positive,'" Walls told the News-Sentinel. "Especially right now, coming off a loss like that, got to be more positive. We've got to put it behind us and look at that orange dog and get focused and think of something positive to say to somebody else to help their day out. It was a good thing seeing it out there."
So we'll call the initial reaction ... mixed, and wait to see how well the Vols do against Vanderbilt Saturday before casting a final judgment on Dooley's motivational acumen. Which leaves just one question: where did Dooley come up with this idea of the "orange dog" and the "red dog"? Via our own Tom Fornelli, here's an artistic interpretation we think comes very close to the truth:
Orange dog statue photo credit* to UTSports.com
*Not a phrase we ever expected to use