JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt puts Dooley out on the street - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Vanderbilt puts Dooley out on the street

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

If there was still a lingering doubt in Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart's mind about the future of third year football coach Derek Dooley, it all went out the window Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.

It was the Coach Killer Commodores at it again.

Vanderbilt put a nail in Auburn Coach Gene Chizik's coaching coffin, when it beat the Tigers, 17-13. They helped send Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips packing after skunking the Wildcats, 40-0. That led to Kentucky announcing that Phillips would not return next season.

After a slow start against Tennessee, Vanderbilt turned on the afterburners in the second half to send the Vols home with an embarrassing 41–18 knot on their head.

Dooley's plight reminds me of the old Kingston Trio ballad, with a few literary changes.

"Hang down your head Derek Dooley. Hang down your head and cry.

Hang down your head Derek Dooley. Poor boy, you're bound to die.''

While Vanderbilt fired up its offense in the second half, the hapless Vols were mired in quicksand.

Tennessee's offense was stuck on 10 points going into the final quarter. The lowest point total the Vols had scored going into the Vanderbilt game was 13 in a losing cause to Alabama.

"They held us to 10 points on offense,'' Dooley said. "I never expected that.''

While Tennessee slipped to 4-7, Vanderbilt moved to 7-4 on the season and can grab its eighth win next week against Wake Forest. The Vols close out the season at home against Kentucky and what a beaut that promises to be.

They were like two ships passing in the night Saturday, one right on course, the other going in circles.

The Commodores waited a year to prove they were the better team after losing last year in Neyland Stadium. It was a game where they thought they let the Vols off the hook. A year later, they left no doubters.

They got all the inspiration they needed shortly before the game as they watched a video from last year's game that showed Dooley telling his team that they did what all Tennessee teams do and that was to kick the doo-doo out of Vanderbilt. Coach James Franklin told the media during the week he had not mentioned the incident to his team. He might not have then, but he saved it for just the right time. He never misses a trick.

On the other side of the field, there's no way Hart can justify keeping Dooley. Hart didn't hire Dooley, so there is not a sense of shared loyalty.

It was plain to see that this Tennessee team is plagued by multiple flaws.

I asked Dooley if he thought Saturday's night's game was indicative of what kind of shape the Tennessee program is in.

"I don't think you say where the program is on one game,'' Dooley said. "We've had a lot of really good games we didn't win this year.

"The program certainly is not where we want to be. It's not close to where the fans want it to be,'' Dooley added. "But it's probably a little bit better than what people think it is. That's how I would assess it.''

We knew the Vols defense can't stop a cold in January, but there was always hope that they could outscore some teams if quarterback Tyler Bray was in sync.

Bray was out of sorts from the start and Dooley finally tried backup Justin Worley for the last two series in the second quarter. Bray returned in the second half, but Vanderbilt's pressure kept him off balance as they kept coming.

It's amazing that Tennessee has two future NFL wide receivers in Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson and a quarterback in Bray who has an NFL arm, but comes up short on the mental part of playing the position. You look at some of the decisions he makes and shake your head.

Vanderbilt was clearly the more prepared, more organized, more talented team on the field. Credit Franklin for infusing confidence and a tireless work ethic in his players and coaches.

There is no doubt Franklin is coaching ‘em up on West End. He has changed a culture that was chock full of ways to lose games and injected a winning attitude from top to bottom on the roster.

Franklin has built a solid foundation and if Vanderbilt can keep the buzzards from swooping in from other schools and hiring him, it can be even more special for the only private school in the football crazed SEC.

As for Tennessee, there is one bright spot.

Vols fans won't have Mr. Orange Pants to kick around any more.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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