May 11, 2011
Changes coming to UT football practice
CHATTANOOGA --- Tennessee football will get flipped upside down when Derek Dooley opens his second pre-season camp in August.
During Wednesday's Big Orange Caravan stop at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Dooley confirmed to VolQuest.com that Tennessee will move all football practices to morning hours. The rudimentary model will see the Vols practice in the morning, eat lunch and have their afternoons for classes and evenings for study hall and homework.
"I think the one thing that is evident is, we made a decision to kind of take the morning for football and the afternoon for school and I think there's a lot of reasons that make it a good thing," Dooley said. "Number 1 is, it's a lot better, I think it's going to be good for academics. They'll be up, they'll go to class and they won't have to hit the alarm. And then they can roll right into their study time. I think there's a value of getting the football out of the way, so to speak, before they can attack their day.
"We've done a lot of research, a lot of diligence. I've been thinking about doing this for two years, three years. So this decision was not made on a whim."
The trend to morning classes is a growing one in college football, with SEC brethren Auburn, Kentucky and national runner-up Oregon among those schools who already log their football work in the mornings.
"Yeah, I have. I've spoken to several programs who do it," Dooley explained, "and it's been something that they wouldn't go back from."
Dooley said the Vols' academic performance for this spring semester won't be known for a few more days, but he admitted the team had set forth some performance goals for the semester.
"We don't know. We won't know really until about another week or so when it all sorts out," Dooley said. "All the grades sort of periodically come in and we'll see. We had some goals as a team, and hopefully we'll show some improvement from the fall semester and we'll see where we land."
It's a similar timeframe for the remainder of the Vols' 2011 signees, most of whom have told VolQuest.com they'll report to campus June 1 for the start of first session summer classes on June 2.
"Yeah, I think for the most part," Dooley said of his optimism for the remainder of the class to be in Knoxville in three weeks. "This is where a lot of stuff happens in the next three weeks for our signees."
As for safety Eddrick Loften?
"About the same way I did a year ago. We'll find out. We'll know something on Eddrick, we should, in the next two weeks," Dooley said. "And when we do, I promise you we'll tell. It's not going to be a secret."
With this month a critical one as Tennessee closes in on the beginning of "voluntary" summer workouts, Dooley praise the role of new strength coach Ron McKeefery and his handling of the team.
"He's kind of like the drill sergeant when you get you first recruits in. He's got the pulse of the team, and if they don't respond to him, that's not going to help our team," Dooley said. "Certainly he needs to be an extension of the head coach in our program, and he is. We have a phenomenal relationship, we've had a lot of dialogue on how we're training our guys, we're on the same page and I think he's been tremendously well-received by the team."
Similarly, this is the time of year when Dooley has the least day-to-day interaction with his team. Not that he's any more --- or less --- worried than usual.
"It's not the summer --- every day, it's a coach's life that you worry. You've got 120 young people (and) it's no different than (being) a parent," Dooley said. "When you're a parent and you have three kids and Jimmy's getting in the car on his own and he's going to a party, you're going to worry. I have 120 of them, and I don't know what they're doing when they leave my building or our building, and so I worry all the time.
"That's just part of parenting and it's part of coaching and there's going to be times when they make some bad decisions and it looks bad on our program, but I do feel like no matter what happens that our culture has just made a remarkable change. It doesn't mean that there's not bad choices and decisions ahead of us, but I think everybody understands what it means to represent this place."
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