After practice today, Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley addressed the media regarding the indefinite suspension of starting receiver Da’Rick Rogers. While he refused to talk specifics about what Rogers did or what it would take for him to come back, he did make a few things clear:
* He said there isn’t one player on the UT team who cannot be replaced.
* He said the suspension came as a result of recent actions, implying that something happened this week to bring down Rogers. (Whether that means it was one failure or just a final straw is yet to be learned.)
* Dooley also stated that he did not know if Rogers is still on the Tennessee campus. He has not spoken to him since informing him of the suspension yesterday.
For a coach trying to save his job, this is bad news. Sure, from a team chemistry standpoint, it’s entirely possible that Rogers’ suspension/departure could unify a team that had grown weary of his me-first ways. That said, Dooley is entering what looks to be a make-or-break season and he’s facing a team expected to challenge for the ACC title in his opener. He’s got seven new assistants on his staff and a new 3-4 scheme on defense that’s being installed.
Most folks taking a positive view of the Vols expected Tennessee to win games with an aerial attack led by a talented quarterback and three good receivers. Now one of those receivers appears to be out of the mix.
If Dooley finally had enough of Rogers and made the call on this, then he should get credit for doing so. Even if he gave Rogers’ umpteen chances before finally pulling the trigger. But this looks to be a University decision, not a Dooley decision (as was the case with former star safety Janzen Jackson who was booted prior to last season because of repeated drug issues).
Either way — whether Dooley took a stand or UT forced his hand — losing one-fourth of the quartet expected to make the Vol attack fly must be difficult for the third-year coach to stomach.