The Truth About Derek Dooley’s Recruiting
By Scott Felts, Tradingo Sports Editor
I feel like I am constantly having to use this space to explain to Tennessee fans just how lucky they have got it. I feel like I am constantly having to teach Tennessee fans the basics of college football or college football recruiting so that they will appreciate the job that Derek Dooley has done since taking over a job that most coaches in college football would not ever even embark on.
Dooley was hired with eighteen days to recruit for the 2010 recruiting class. Last season, Dooley was coming off of a losing season and a bowl loss and this season, due to a myriad of injuries and one of the toughest schedules in college football, Dooley comes off another year where the Tennessee Vols lost more games than they won.
In 2010, the Vols finished 16th in recruiting on Scout.com and 9th on Rivals.com which are considered the top two recruiting services by many in college football. In 2011, the Vols finished 10th on Scout and 13th on Rivals.
I took the top twenty teams on those two sites for those two years which ended up being twenty-nine teams, and included the current 2012 rankings from each of those sites as of midnight on Tuesday January 17th and averaged the rankings for those teams while Derek Dooley has been head coach at Tennessee.
I also have the combined three-season record for each of those teams from the 2009-2011 seasons which were the seasons that preceded the recruiting efforts for the three classes that Dooley has had to recruit. As you look at these numbers, remember that Derek’s first year consisted of only eighteen days to hold the class together and add to it, and that this season, he is coming off of a losing season and either has had to, or still has to replace a defensive coordinator and five assistant coaches that have all left for other jobs or retirement.
1. Texas 2.67 (26-13)
2. Alabama 3.17 (36-4)
3. Florida State 7.17 (26-14)
4. LSU 7.33 (33-7)
5. Auburn 8.17 (30-10
5. Florida 8.17 (28-12)
7. USC 10.00 (27-11)
8. Oklahoma 10.33 (30-10)
9. Ohio St. 11.83 (29-10)
10. Oregon 12.00 (34-6)
11. Georgia 13.67 (24-16)
12. Notre Dame 13.83 (22-16)
13. Tennessee 14.17 (18-20)
14. Clemson 14.83 (25-16)
15. Michigan 15.83 (23-15)
16. California 17.00 (20-18)
17. South Carolina 18.33 (27-13)
18. Miami 19.00 (22-16)
19. Texas A&M 19.17 (22-17)
20. UCLA 26.67 (17-22)
21. Oklahoma St. 28.00 (32-7)
22. Penn St. 28.17 (27-12)
23. Arkansas 28.67 (29-10)
23. Mississippi 28.67 (15-22)
25. Washington 29.17 (19-19)
26. Nebraska 29.67 (29-12)
27. North Carolina 33.83 (23-16)
28. Texas Tech 34.00 (22-16)
29. Pittsburgh 36.33 (24-15)
A few things jump out when you look at that list.
Derek Dooley has out-recruited power-house programs such as Michigan, Miami, UCLA, Penn St and Nebraska.
Derek Dooley has out-recruited thirteen programs just on this list that have had less losses than Tennessee has had wins in the past three seasons including SEC programs South Carolina and Arkansas.
Derek Dooley has out-recruited six programs just on this list (16 programs total) that have either played in their BCS conference championship game, or won at least a share of their BCS conference championship in the last three seasons.
There are only three teams with a losing record the past three seasons with an average recruiting ranking in the top 23 and Tennessee is tops with a ranking of 13th in the country.
While Tennessee is ranked 6th in the SEC in recruiting during Dooley’s tenure, the SEC teams that are ranked ahead of Tennessee are a combined 151-49 (an avg of a 30-10 record) while Tennessee has posted an 18-20 record.
What those last two tidbits show you, is that regardless of Tennessee’s poor record and regardless of outside factors such as heavy turnover of the coaching/recruiting staff, Derek Dooley, who has been the constant during the period has absolutely done an amazing job of recruiting to Tennessee. Derek Dooley has gone into living rooms and brought classes of athletes to Tennessee or commitments from athletes to Tennessee that the two best recruiting services believe to be in the top 13 in the entire country, during what is absolutely the worst time in Tennessee Football modern history.
Dooley and Tennessee can’t do anything about the recruiting classes at other SEC schools directly. The SEC is going to recruit well. The teams ahead of Tennessee in the rankings from the SEC with less losses than Tennessee has wins, should, by all intensive purposes be killing Dooley on the recruiting trail. Some of you will say that they are. But for my money, a coach with an 18-20 record, being only 11 slots behind a coach with a 36-4 record and two National Championships, is not “getting killed”.
He’s doing a damn fine job, and if given the opportunity, without uninformed, so-called fans creating expectations that have been unrealistic, will begin doing as damn fine a job on the football field as he is doing in the living rooms of high school recruits sooner rather than later.
But for those of you that understand this, and appreciate the job that Derek Dooley has done as a recruiter in his short time at Tennessee, don’t worry; for as those wins in living rooms turn into wins on the football field, the fans that are vocal now about Dooley not being the right man for the job at Tennessee will have to answer for their ignorance and for the rest of us, well for the rest of us, the truth shall set us free.