Sources close to the Tennessee program have confirmed over the last two days that the Derek Dooley era is drawing to a close at Tennessee. FeelsLike98 has learned that rumors that Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart delivered a “beat both Alabama and South Carolina or you’re done” ultimatum to Dooley are true, and in the fallout of the Alabama debacle, things are escalating quickly towards that end.
Multiple sources have confirmed to us that this ultimatum was burgeoned by the fact that Hart’s top candidate to replace Dooley, television analyst and Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden, has shown legitimate interest in the job dating back several weeks. We are being led to believe that discussions between Gruden’s representatives and Tennessee date back to shortly after the Florida loss on September 15th. FeelsLike98 is not prepared to say that Jon Gruden will be the next coach at the University of Tennessee, but we have been repeatedly told by multiple sources that money will not be a stumbling block to making any hire.
We also inquired about the story that was published earlier today by MrSEC.com that reported that Dooley offered to resign last year after the Kentucky loss and was told that while there may be some truth to it, the feeling is that the story is a smokescreen designed to manipulate any remaining public sentiment that remains in Dooley’s favor. We’ve been told that it’s possible that more stories like this may come to light.
Furthermore, multiple sources have confirmed to us tonight that the tone inside the Tennessee football complex is very strained following Dooley’s apparent unraveling in the face of pressure at today’s weekly press conference. Several team members are reported to have been very upset with Dooley in the wake of his negative comments about players to the media. We are told that Hart and Dooley engaged in a spirited discussion surrounding some of Dooley’s comments in today’s press conference. It is our understanding that the original intention was the allow Dooley to finish the season, but that increasing tension in the football offices may force a change sooner than first expected. Sources have told FeelsLike98 that Dooley has offered to resign at the end of the season if he receives his full buyout but refuses to do it during the season, and this has become a point of contention.
The questions for now seem to be not “if” but “when”, and how much will it take to bring Jon Gruden to Knoxville.
Stay tuned to FeelsLike98.com for more information as this situation develops.