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SEC Headlines – 4/3/12 Part Two

1.  Mike Gillislee is ready to be the running back at Florida this year.

2.  Recently arrested and charged tight end AC Leonard is back at practice with UF, but Will Muschamp isn’t sure about his spring game status.

3.  Georgia O-line coach Will Friend says his unit has be more physical.

4.  South Carolina has found a top receiver, but what about a backup quarterback?

5.  Derek Dooley said his Tennessee team had the “Monday morning blues” yesterday.

6.  Vanderbilt is looking for more help at the receiver position.

7.  As we suggested this morning, it seems a lot of Missouri faithful enjoyed Kentucky’s win over Kansas last night.

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UT’s Rogers Says He Never Considered A Transfer

Transfer?  What transfer?  What’s a transfer?

Last week, mercurial Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers stirred up a controversy by tweeting: “Georgia State.  Wasup?”  He was absent from practice the next day, but Panthersville.com quoted Rogers as telling that site that “Georgia State would be the only place I’d look at” should he transfer.

Over the weekend, Rogers returned to practice after doing some things Derek Dooley told him to do.  The coach would not elaborate on what those things were, but he did say Saturday that Rogers was good to go and that a transfer had never come up in any conversations between the two.

Today, Rogers spoke to the media and said all’s well:


“Oh, man, no controversy.  Just had some little things to handle off the field, got those handled and now we’re looking forward to becoming a championship-contending team. … If I was a distraction, I really wasn’t trying to be a distraction.  It was a situation that we got handled, and everything is good now.

No transfer for me, no consideration.  Maybe I need to do a little better job with my tweets, letting everybody know what’s really actually going on so next time it won’t be misinterpreted.”


Maybe he needs to make sure what he tells websites covering other programs isn’t misinterpreted either.  Or maybe he could have straightened things out via Twitter when the story blew up last week.  Funny that he didn’t.

Or maybe Derek Dooley needs to simply ban his guys from Twitter.

Rogers went on to praise the chemistry on Tennessee’s team before stating: “Sometimes you just come to a point in your life where you have to be strong about things.  I had a little weak moment, and that’s gone behind me and behind the team now.  We’re ready to go.”

Judging by the tweets sent out by some of his teammates last week, it seems that some Vols might be ready for Rogers to go.  Or maybe those tweets were misinterpreted, too.

Either way, Knoxville is still Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood for now.  We await his next episode.

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WR Rogers’ Tweets Raise Questions About His Status UT

Tennessee receiver Da’rick Rogers — an All-SEC selection last year — is in the news again.  And that’s got Vol fans worried.

First, some background.  Rogers was initially committed to Georgia until Derek Dooley — who’d just taken over at Tennessee — flipped his commitment late in the process in 2010 by signing a package deal with Rogers’ high school quarterback buddy and Vanderbilt target Nash Nance.

By July of that year, Rogers had been arrested for his role in a bar brawl involving a number of Tennessee teammates.  Since then, his attitude has come into question repeatedly.

Reporters saw him yelling at former UT receivers coach Charlie Baggett on the sideline of the Vols’ loss to Kentucky last fall.  Shortly after that game, Baggett retired (but was paid a severance package as though he’d been dismissed).

This offseason Rogers missed two weeks of workouts with Tennessee’s training staff.  It was reported at the time that he had had multiple altercations with the Vols’ strength and conditioning coaches.

During a pre-spring press conference on Sunday, Dooley said that Rogers had had a good offseason but he refused to discuss his suspension from workouts.  “He’s like the rest of the team.  He’s shown a lot of progress, he grew as a player emotionally, but he has a long way to go.”

The mercurial wideout was on the practice fields Monday and Tuesday of this week.

But Volquest.com — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — reported that Rogers was not expected to be at practice today.  InsideTennessee.com — the Scout site covering the Vols — confirmed that he is not on hand.  (That’s all behind paywalls, folks.)

All this follows two mysterious tweets from Rogers last night:


“Georgia State.  Wasup?”

And…

“I cannot wait to talk to the media tomorrow.  It finally comes out.”

Dooley is expected to address Rogers’ status with the Volunteer squad this morning after UT’s practice.  Until then, Vol fans must once again wonder if the player who had 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns last season will indeed be wearing orange this fall.

Tennessee’s coach can’t afford another season of internal chemistry issues on his football team.  But with his job likely on the line this fall, Dooley might not be able to afford the loss of one of his most talented players, either.

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Report: UT Loses Another Assistant

Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley has now lost seven of nine.  That’s assistant coaches this offseason, not the “Star Trek: Voyager” character named Seven of Nine (which gives us an excuse to drive up pageviews with a shot of Jeri Ryan).

According to VolQuest.com — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — safeties coach and recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph has confirmed to that site that he has accepted the position of secondary coach with Nebraska.  (Sorry, but that story is behind a paywall.)  That means Dooley will soon have to find his seventh new assistant since the end of last season.

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UF’s Muschamp Takes The Blame For His Team’s Shortcomings

Florida is mired in its second-consecutive five-loss season.  Gator fans, naturally, are having a tough time accepting that fact.  So at whom should they direct blame?  Will Muschamp… according to Will Muschamp:


“At the end of the game, I’m not like a lot of coaches.  I’m not going to come in and blame all of our players.  There’s a lot of coaches that do that, and I’m not going to do that.  When we play well it’s because our players played well, and when we don’t it’s my fault.  And that’s just been my approach all the time.  The players understand that, too.  I’m the first one that’s going to stand up and say I need to do a better job.  I think it’s really unprofessional for a grown man to come up here and blame a 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kid for a mistake.  I think that’s ridiculous.  And I’m not going to do that.  So if it makes somebody made, let me know.”


Interesting.  While I support the idea of a coach taking blame and giving credit, it would probably be better received if the coach didn’t make a big point of how he won’t blame his players.  By saying that, it sends the message: “Even if it was Joe Freshman’s fault, I wouldn’t tell you… so it might just be Joe Freshman’s fault.”

Muschamp sounds particularly touchy on that subject as well.  Across the SEC, two coaches point out their players flaws more than most others — Steve Spurrier and Derek Dooley.  Might Mushcamp have had one of those coaches in mind?  Someone else?

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For 14 UT Seniors, There Won’t Be Too Much Of A Legacy

Tomorrow’s Senior Day festivities in Knoxville shouldn’t take very long.  Derek Dooley’s squad will say goodbye to just 14 seniors… a pretty telling sign of the youth on Tennessee’s squad.  When asked about the legacy he and his fellow seniors will leave behind, tailback Tauren Poole wasn’t exactly upbeat:


“I don’t know if there is much of a legacy, man, and I’m not saying that to be disrespectful or anything.  I don’t know if people are going to remember this class for what we did because we didn’t to much, to be honest with you.  We can finish these two games on a good note (Vandy and Kentucky).

We have to continue to come to the practice field and keep guys positive, because there is negative energy around everywhere, but we have to stay positive.”


Ever heard the team “playing out the string?”  Sounds like that might just apply in Knoxville these days.

Take a frustrating season, mix in a good dose of youth and a lack of senior leadership and things can spiral downward quickly.  If Vanderbilt gets an early lead on Tennessee tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if the Vols fight through it… or if they succumb to some more of that negative energy.

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UT’s Bray Tweets He’ll Be Back Soon; Dooley Not So Sure

If you read this site on a regular basis, you know that we’re anti-Twitter when it comes to college athletes.  With a few keystrokes they can damage their own reputations and — in extreme circumstances — tear down a whole program with their 140-character blasts.  (Ask Butch Davis about Twitter’s effect on his career and North Carolina’s program.)

Well, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is the latest to put his foot — or would it be fingers? — in his mouth with a tweet he posted last night:

 

“Thumb is feeling a lot better.  Thanks to volnation for all your support ill be back soon maybe sooner than everyone thinks…”

 

And like that, hopes were raised across the Volunteer State.  But his coach dismissed his quarterback’s tweet today.

“It’s going the same as we always thought,” Derek Dooley said.  ”I mean, it’s really hard to tell because he’s in a cast.  Somebody said he tweeted something.  He’s not a doctor, he’s a 19-year-old guy.”

Bray broke his thumb against Georgia earlier this month and was initially expected to be out at least until Tennessee’s regular-season finale against Kentucky.

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UT’s Bray Has Plate Inserted Into Hand; No Impact On Recovery Time

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray had a metal plate inserted into his hand today to help his broken thumb heal properly, but the procedure is not expected to slow his recovery time.  Bray’s thumb — broken two Saturdays ago against Georgia — is expected to take about six weeks to heal.

“They have to let the swelling go down and the plate is in only so the bone doesn’t grow, so it doesn’t heal crooked,” Derek Dooley said today.  “The plate’s only to help the healing.  The scar tissue heals but it can move.  If it moves and then it heals, then you’ve got a crooked thumb.  We certainly don’t want that with our quarterback.”

Maybe he should have asked for the Skywalker Special (at left).

Bray was leading the SEC in passer rating before the injury.  He had thrown 14 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions on the season.

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Dooley’s Mom Takes Up For Her Little Vol

If you’re going to question Derek Dooley’s job status, don’t do it when his mama is within ear shot.  That’s the lesson learned by two writers and a radio host in the Peach State today.

Two media members — both based in Knoxville — were appearing on a talkshow on WGAU-AM in Atlanta this morning.  At some point during the conversation, one of the writers brought up Dooley’s status as Tennessee’s second-year head coach.  Barbara Dooley, who lives nearby and has her own show on the same station, heard the comment and drove over to the studios.

“She just about kicked the door in,” the show’s host said.

Chip Towers of The AJC provides a full transcript here, but below is an excerpt:


Barbara Dooley:  “Let me say this: Derek Dooley walked into kind of a mess.  Florida, (Will Muschamp) walks into talent just oozing out of their ears.  Jimbo Fisher walks into FSU with talent.  And y’all are telling me that Derek Dooley is on the damn hot seat?  Are you crazy?

Host Tim Bryant:  “Did anybody say the word ‘hot seat?’”

Barbara Dooley:  “Yeah, I heard them!”

Knoxville-based ESPN Writer Dave Hooker:  “I didn’t say that.”

Dooley:  “Oh, come on, get out here!  You’ve got Mama’s rile up now, buddy.  Did you know (Derek) played 17 freshmen against Florida?”

Hooker:  “Absolutely.”

Dooley:  “I just want you to be nice and fair and know that you probably have the best coach in the country and he’s going to be there 25 years.”


Conspicuously absent from the transcript are any words from Andrew Gribble of The Knoxville News Sentinel, which — along with Hooker’s “I didn’t say that” — leads one to believe he was the guy wishing he’d never mentioned Dooley’s job status.

Look, everyone’s a huge fan of Mama Dooley’s wit, charm, story-telling abilities, and go-get-’em attitude.  She’s entertaining and hard not to like.  I get that.  There’s a reason radio shows across the South fight to schedule her.

But am I the only one who thinks her son would probably prefer he not be the only coach in America whose mother so often speaks out on his behalf?


(UPDATE — I wanted to make sure that that transcript didn’t lead some to believe that she was angry or ugly.  If you’re familiar with Dooley’s shoot-from-the-lip style, you likely knew that.  If not, I can see where the transcript might sound harsher than it was.  There are no inflections in print.  That said, we still wonder son Derek thinks about mom Barbara so often chiming in on his business.  It’s an unusual situation for a big-time college football coach to say the least.)

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Dooley: “I Can’t Change What Happened”

For all the Tennessee fans who’d like to get their hands on Lane Kiffin, there’s one guy who’d love to be at the front of the line — Derek Dooley.  The alleged scofflaw tactics of Kiffin and his staff have once again left UT’s current coach answering questions about potential violations he himself had no hand in:


“You never want anything to come out on your program that somebody might perceive as negative.  But you know what, I can’t change what happened.  All we can deal with is make sure everybody understands taht this wasn’t under our watch, and it wasn’t involving a coach on our staff and it doesn’t involve a player that’s been in our program.”


Dooley also stated that he hopes the NCAA “is going to stay consistent with what they’ve done, which is, ‘Let’s target the people that make these mistakes, not the programs.’”

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