On July 29, 1908, Harland and Wolff (builders) presented drawings for an Olympic-class ocean liner to White Star Line Executives. Shortly thereafter, papers were signed, and construction began on the $7.5 million (approximately $400 million today) behemoth known as the Titanic. The world had never seen a vessel the likes of the Titanic. From its massive size to its plush amenities, it was state-of-the-art in every detail. After the deal was inked for construction of the Titanic, countless workers toiled for 26 months to complete the beautiful ship.
After building such an incredibly expensive vessel, the Titanic brass only wanted to hand the Sea Captain duties to someone who could successfully navigate her on her maiden voyage from Queenstown to New York City (April 10, 1912). Enter Edward Smith, Sea Captain at your service. We all know what happened next. the Titanic struck an iceberg four days into the crossing approximately 375 miles south of Newfoundland. A massive jolt echoed throughout the vessel, and despite the efforts of the boiler room crew, passengers and everyone else on board, the Titanic sunk a mere two and a half hours later. Captain Edward Smith was given the keys to one of the finest constructed vessels of all-time, and he promptly sank the ship ending the lives of 1,514 people in the process.
Now I realize that it's only hyperbole to say that Derek Dooley "drowned" the Tennessee football program because there has been no loss of life or anything as horrific as what happened in those icy, North Atlantic waters 100 years ago. However, when comparing the modern day football program at the University of Tennessee to the Titanic, you can safely say the following: Captain Edward Smith is Head Football Coach Derek Dooley.
We'll all remember Saturday, November 17, 2012 as the date Derek Dooley hit the iceberg on West End in Nashville and sunk the ship of his tenure and what is left of the pride of the University of Tennessee football program. A demoralizing 41-18 beat down at the hands of Vanderbilt plunged the Vols into the icy waters of 0-7 in SEC play on the season. If a bowl game were to be Dooley's life vest, that ship has sailed as the Vols will not go bowling for the second year in a row under his steady leadership.
For three seasons now, many Volunteer fans have made all of the excuses in the world for Coach Dooley. (However, the number of fans still doing this has dwindled to almost nothing at this point.) Dooley inherited a mess from Kiffin and Fulmer. Attrition had decimated the roster, but here are a few things to consider. Derek Dooley has managed to go 0-7 with an offense that features a future NFL signal caller with an absolute cannon of an arm. He has two WR at his disposal that are probably going to be first round picks in Hunter and Patterson (Patterson is a 1st rounder for sure). Also, he has Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera to throw into the mix. The Vols feature a veteran offensive line that is chock-full of future NFL players. Defensively, the Vols are a mess as the talent level is sub-par for SEC standards, but I would like to think with proper coaching and a proper scheme, they wouldn't be the worst statistical defense in program history as they currently are under the leadership of Derek Dooley and his staff.
Along the lines of the "state-of-the-art Titanic", the Vols have built their own "state-of-the-art" football complex, a $45 million football sanctuary that features everything from restaurants to a MMA cage to the latest in exercise and recovery. Also, the Vols play in a newly renovated Neyland Stadium that has enough seating for 100,000 plus orange clad zealots clamoring for a winner.
From NFL talent on the roster to a brand new football complex that is the "gold standard" to a massive stadium dripping with football history to a rabid fan base, Derek Dooley hasn't had all rotten apples in Knoxville as some would like you to believe. Yet, he has managed to sink the ship. This doesn't make him a bad guy by any means. He's just not cut out for the job. Dooley is incredibly bright, energetic and still pretty young. I can envision him having successes down the road.
Unlike, Captain Smith, Dooley doesn't have to go down with the ship. He'll soon be removed from his post, and Volunteer fans can start looking out into the vast seas for a replacement. Who better to navigate these choppy waters than a former Buccaneer?