March 30th, 2012 10:08 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Tennessee
Tags: Georgia State, Mississippi State, Tennessee Dooley Rogers, UT
There’s a line in the movie “The American President” in which Michael Douglas — playing the Prez — tells the public, “I was so busy trying to keep my job that I forgot to do my job.”
Derek Dooley should order that film from Netflix. Or maybe he should ask deposed Mississippi State hoops coach Rick Stansbury for advice.
For the second year in a row, Tennessee’s football coach appears to be on the verge of losing his team’s locker room because he refuses to put his foot down when star players walk over him, his staff and his rules.
Receiver Da’Rick Rogers — we chronicled his previous issues yesterday — has done something to earn himself another ban from UT’s football team. That would be the player’s second ban this offseason, though Dooley refuses for some reason to use the word “suspension.” The first “ban” came when Rogers allegedly made “a physical threat to a strength coach.” Scuttlebutt claims the tempestuous star tossed a weight at one of the staff members.
Yesterday, the coach said his All-SEC wideout could return from his current — break? hiatus? timeout? vacation? siesta? — as soon as he completes a few tasks. Sources claim that simply means running some extra laps.
If that’s indeed the case then it looks like Rogers would rather run to Georgia State instead. On Wednesday night the player tweeted: “Georgia State. Wasup?” Yesterday a report from Panthersville.com — the Scout site covering GSU — wrote “GSU May Snag 5-Star SEC Transfer.” In the story, they contacted the Georgia native and Rogers told the site:
“Georgia State would be the only place I’d look at.”
Uh, yeah. Rogers going to North Alabama while Terry Bowden was running that ship? That I could see. Bill Curry putting up with a diva dissing him and his staff? Rogers better be prepared to have his facemask jerked.
Remarkably, when Dooley was asked yesterday about the possibility of Rogers leaving, the coach said: “I don’t have any knowledge of him wanting to leave. He’s never told me that, or indicated that to me or anybody else.”
Which tells us that Dooley doesn’t follow Rogers’ Twitter feed or read Panthersville.com. Apparently.
The coach needs to win this year or else his rump could be headed back to the Louisiana Tech-level of coaching. (Actually, the Bulldogs are winning more since he left, so perhaps he’d land at a coaching rung lower than Tech.) With receiver Justin Hunter still on the mend from major knee surgery Dooley obviously wants to hang onto his best pass-catcher for now, at least.
But at what point is Rogers’ on-field talent offset by his off-field demeanor? After all, Tennessee’s team went 5-7 and lost to Kentucky with Rogers last season.
While a number of Vol players told the press yesterday that they still support Rogers, others posted some rather odd comments on Twitter after Dooley’s “he’s just got some things to do” presser.
Offensive lineman Jawuan James wrote: “What you allow you encourage.” Was he referring to Dooley’s lack of action with Rogers or some mother not disciplining her kid in the McDonald’s line in front of him? You decide.
Defensive lineman Maurice Couch posted via his Twitter feed: “Talk is cheap lead with actions.” Aimed at Dooley? Aimed at Rogers? Aimed at something else entirely?
We could be wrong, but it sure looks like 2 + 2 = 4 in this case.
The whole Tennessee-Dooley-Rogers situation is very reminiscent of Stansbury’s decision to recruit, sign and then put up with Renardo Sidney’s attitude issues at Mississippi State. When Sidney got into a fight on national television with teammate Elgin Bailey, the guy with more potential stayed and Bailey left. When Sidney worked out last summer with John Lucas in Houston rather than travel with his teammates on a preseason European tour, Stansbury said his big man was still in his good graces.
But this past season, the Bulldogs’ locker room went up in flames as players openly alluded to certain teammates not giving enough effort, not being in shape, and not having a proper attitude. Stansbury fiddled while Starkville burned.
The coach’s decision to let Sidney poison his locker room eventually ended said coach’s stay in said locker room.
Dooley is now walking down the same path. He allowed star safety Janzen Jackson chance after chance after chance to the point that some former Vol assistants even grew tired of it. Jackson let Dooley down in the end and was forced out by school policy, not Dooley’s.
It seems he’s determined to give the talented Rogers as many chances as it takes to get his head straight. Meanwhile, Rogers apparently contemplates a move to Georgia State.
Dooley should be so lucky.
UT’s coach has a Sidney problem on his hands. And if he doesn’t fix it soon, UT athletic director Dave Hart may come to believe that he’s got a Stansbury problem on his.
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