Surprise, You Just Got Dooleyed!

There’s a new term that has entered the lexicon of college football thanks to Tennessee football, to be “Dooleyed.”  Contrary to popular belief, this catchphrase isn’t used to describe a football coach who loses a game that they were winning when time expired.  And unfortunately for Matt Simms, its not a new television show where a Coach plays silly pranks on unsuspecting players, but then steps out from behind a hidden camera to tell them he was just pulling their leg, not pulling them from the game.  Nope, to be “Dooleyed” means that you’ve just had the unfortunate experience of having your job taken by a true freshman, for a second time in your college football career.  Congratulations Matt Simms, you’ve just been Dooleyed!

Look, let’s get something straight here, I am squarely in the Dooley camp.  I want Coach Dooley to succeed more than anything, and if we Vol fans don’t want this program to really (and I mean REALLY really) fall on hard times, then we need Coach Dooley to succeed.  And short of football armageddon, I am not suggesting and would not ever suggest that we replace our coach anytime soon.  In case anyone is left wondering, I readily admit that Derek Dooley is smarter than me, he’s played and coached way more football than me, has much better hair than me, and let’s face it, he makes a pair of creamsicle dress pants look damn cool.

But I am a life long fan who’s had to endure over thirty years of the ups and downs of all that being a Tennessee fan entails.  And I’ve just witnessed us taking a Grade A ass-kicking from 4 teams I don’t like very much (okay, two that I hate with a passion).  And to be honest, I’m tired of being a fan of the team that plays hard but in the end has to get up from their latest butt-whipping and dust off their britches.  So by golly, I’m gonna climb up on this soap box again and tell you what I think.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw Justin Worley running onto the field Saturday night late in the game.  My first thought was that someone should tackle him and drag him back to the side-line because obviously he was on some redshirt-burnin’ suicide mission that was not endorsed by anyone on the Tennessee staff.  But when no one ran out to stop him and when Dooley didn’t burn another time out to correct a substitution error, it became clear to me that Justin Worley had been sent into the game, INTENTIONALLY, and his redshirt freshman year was no more.  I am still left wondering why.

Someone way more intelligent than me is going to have to explain why Coach Dooley pulled Matt Simms at the end of a blowout that everyone expected to put in a true freshman quarterback who in all likelihood won’t play much next year barring another injury to Tyler Bray.  And while you’re at it, please detail the valuable in game experience gained from a few handoffs and a QB sneak at the end of a game.  Even if you can begin to explain the positives of a move like that, that late in the game, they pale in comparison to all the negatives that come with it.  I want to give him every benefit of every doubt, but I just don’t understand why Coach Dooley did what he did this past Saturday to both Matt Simms and to Justin Worley.  I’ve tried, and I just don’t get it.  Maybe I’m totally wrong, and I hope more than anything I am, but I can’t help but think he pointlessly damaged the psyche of one young man (arguably for a second time), and could have potentially set up another to be damaged down the road.

Even if Dooley were planning on starting Justin Worley against South Carolina (and of course he HAS to now, since he kind of painted himself into that corner), how does pulling Simms when the game was decided (and after all the shots he had taken that night) in favor of playing Worley so that he could take a few meaningless snaps against Bama’s third string do anything to help our current QB situation?  Simms is by all accounts a team leader and a stand up guy, so how does embarrassing a young man like that on national television, yet again, by benching him in favor of a true freshman do anything to help the team in the weeks ahead?  How did it help Justin Worley and the rest of the team who has to go out and play?  Why was this move better than holding a QB competition in earnest this week, away from the prying eyes of the media, and giving Worley the majority of the snaps to see if he can take the job from Simms during game prep?  Why not wait, break the news to Simms and the team first, then to the media just before the South Carolina game?  I just don’t understand any of it.  Don’t tell me its not possible that Worley could have a terrible week of practice and that it could become clear that he’s not ready to take the reins against a good team like South Carolina.  Don’t tell me that Matt Simms couldn’t have engineered wins against Kentucky, MTSU and Vanderbilt, and even maybe helped us upset South Carolina or Arkansas (he was the QB at LSU last year, remember).  Without playing Worley this past Saturday, Dooley still had the fallback option of going with Simms.  Now that he’s used up a valuable redshirt year, he doesn’t.

But what’s done is done, and I hope Justin Worley goes out and plays the game of his life against South Carolina, and puts me and all the second guessing, armchair quarterbacks in our place.  I want him to do well.  But that doesn’t stop me from doubting the move and worrying for a young kid put in a very tough position.  No pressure son, but your coach just upped the ante for you, you’re all in.  All you have to do is go out and make sure you earn the respect and confidence of your teammates in a week and then make damn sure you keep it and win at least 3 of your last 5 games.  No big deal, since you will just be playing against a great SEC defense, a great SEC offense, and three teams who would like nothing better than to make their season better by beating the hell out of Tennessee.

But seriously, I’m pretty sure I speak for most of the Vol nation when I say we are behind you Justin, and we are behind your coach.  And no matter how many times a true Vol gets knocked around and knocked down, we are always gonna get back up and keep fighting for Tennessee.  Just like Matt Simms.

Go Vols,



19 Responses to “Surprise, You Just Got Dooleyed!”

  1. BearGapVol Says:

    “It’s not something that’s done on a whim” … “I just think it’s the right thing to do.” -Dooley

    So, why wasn’t it a the right thing to do two weeks ago when we could beat the #1 and #2 ranked teams?


    • Hate to mess up your dream, but the Vols are way too young and thin to have any chance against teams like LSU and Alabama. Derek Dooley is forced to play a junior varsity roster against grown men. Example: Alabama’s top 44 players had a combined total of 114 years in the SEC (on the field and, more importantly, in the weight room); Tennessee’s top 44 have a combined total of 41 years. That is nearly 3 years of big boy training to 1 year. You can’t make that up with courage, coaching adjustments or gameplans. Plus, LSU and Alabama had the audacity to show up and play with their best QB, best WR, best LB and best DB. Dooley did not have that option! Dooley has had 2 solid recruiting years and needs 2-3 more good classes to get even close to the top tier SEC teams. He did not create this mess and my money says there is not a coach in the SEC that would swap rosters and schedules with him. Go Vols!

      • goddam what a good post! I love all these people complaining about the lack of adjustments. The score was 6-6 at the half. What adjustments do they expect. Had we changed something those same people would cry- ” if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” They also don’t realize the only way for us to win these games when we are so outmanned would require DD to outcoach Sabin and Miles. Yea, that’s gonna’ happen 😉

  2. I appreciate Matt Simms, his toughness and leadership, but I believe he has taken so many hits over the past 2 seasons that his ability to check down to 2nd and 3rd options has been erased by the urgency to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. He sees a pass rush when it’s not there. Coupled with a slow, flat delivery, his game is in a death spiral that can’t be coached away. Justin Worley may not be ready, but at least we get a head start on next season. Tyler Bray, for all his skills, is not built for durability and I would much rather go into 2012 with a back-up that has seen some meaningful snaps against SEC competition. My guess is that Matt doesn’t like his predicament, but that he gets it. Go Vols!

    • I don’t have a problem with pulling Simms in favor of Worley, I just don’t think you do it at that moment. Why not give him a week of practice and start him against USC? What does taking meanless snaps do for him or anyone else?

      • Never a good time to get benched, but both Tennessee and Alabama had flooded the field with subs (although Bama’s subs were not much different than the starters!)…I believe Matt may be better coming off the bench than starting…Glad he is a Vol, but the truth is his abilities would be better suited for his dad’s alma mater, Morehead State, than for an SEC program.

      • I agree with you that Simms lacks big time DI talent. But just because both teams have flooded the field with subs doesn’t mean you stick in a true freshman for Simms, again, and create a media firestorm when you could have replaced him as a started this week in practice.

      • he put him in with plenty of time to get some good work. We fumbled and Bammer ran 6 minutes off the clock. Try again…

      • Yes, those 4 hand-offs and the QB sneak will be invaluable to his development.

  3. Embarrass Simms by benching him? Are you serious? He put Worley in the game with 7 minutes left and we fumbled. Did people go to the bathroom duirng this because Im shocked at all the people crying about WHEN he came into the game. It doesn’t matter. He was going to play this week anyway. It was a good opportunity to get him some snaps on the road at #1 in the country. Another thing, who are all these people that think Simms was going to go 6 more game without getting his bell rung? This whole thing gets strangerer and strangerer.

    • Then put him in when we are down 14 and let’s see how he does running the offense. Putting him in when he did does nothing to help Worley or the team get better this week. Not saying Worley shouldn’t play, not saying Simms shouldn’t be benched. Just saying that was a silly way to go about it.

  4. First, I applaud your passion as a fan, but I seriously question your rationale for second guessing the decision to pull Simms and play Worley.

    Did you write this before Dooley addressed the media and discussed the decision and answered questions from the press? He made the decision sensible, at least to me. He said that the level of QB play was not acceptable, and mentioned fundamental errors and poor decision making as examples. Although Simms can’t perform passing miracles and magically become something he is not; a game changing QB, at least as a senior he should not be making fundamental errors that take his team out of the game. Simms could not be expected to make the difference in those 2 games, but apparently his performance convinced the coaches he would not help the team win moving forward, even with a more forgiving schedule. It appreared to me the staff gave him every opportunity to suceed. To be successful (i.e, win or be competitive) we need better play out of the QB position. Dooley explained that for the last 3 weeks, since he became the no 2, Worley has made a lot of progress. He said they tried to get him in and give him the opportunity to throw some passes, at least get a taste of game experience, not to run 4 meaningless plays. He offered more information, but you can read it for yourself. Basically, none of your analysis is reasonable, except perhaps the point that Dooley is smarter than you and has coached way more football than you (BTW – have you coached football at all let alone at a level anywhere close to Dooley and his staff?).

    “Pointlessly damaged the psyche…”, “embarressed on national TV…”? Seriously? The QB at an SEC school better be thick skinned and if being pulled after being given ample opportunity to prove you are the guy damages his psyche, then tough cookies. I got pulled a few times as a part time starting HS QB, both in my Junior and Senior seasons, and managed to survive with minimal permanent emotional scarring. I’m sure Simms can as well. If not then he better be glad he did not play for Spurrier.

    Did you watch a lot of practices this year, specifically since Bray was injured, and see what Dooley was talking about regarding Worleys progress since he became the no 2? Did you sit in on the staff meetings last week when they undoubtably discussed the situations that may require playing Worley? In other words, do you have any inside knowledge or qualifications to question the coaches decision? Do you actually believe the decision to put Worley in was a knee-jerk decision rather than a thought out in advance plan by the coaching staff if the situation warranted it?

    Bottom line, I can accept that Simms is a great kid; tough and a solid leader. But the coaches have decided that he does not have the skill and ability needed to advance the team, and had to implement a contingence plan that they probably would have preferred not too.

    Like you, I support Dooley, the staff, and the players and look forward to continued progress in the future, but at the same time not giving up on this season. I feel Dooley and his staff need at least 2 more years before being second guessed and questioned in the manner you did in your article. This week in and week out internet drama does not solve any problems nor does it help the cause of the team.

    • The QB play was poor against LSU too. If Worley were that far ahead of Simms, why not start him? Why not bring him in midway through the 3rd quarter when we are getting rolled? Thanks for your comments though and thanks for the read, I enjoy the discourse.

      • I agree, except that we do not know where he was as far as making better progress since becoming #2. I suspect the timing was a mix of giving Simms as fair an opportunity as feasible while at the same time getting Worley ready; if he had been way ahead of Simms 2 weeks ago I would also question waiting to play him, but again, we just don’t know. In retrospect it would have been better to get Worley in earlier against Alabama, but I don’t have the inside info needed to make any judgement on that. It seemed that the last interception was the straw that broke the camels back for Simms and thats when Worley was inserted. Again, like you said, it would have been better knowing how it ultimately played out to play Worley sooner, but hey, its past history now and the real news is about the continued leadership and character of Simms who is in the best position to mentor Worley and can the rookie step in and give us some “Bray Play”. I’d like to hear how Simms responds after he has some time to digest what happened.

      • I agree, I’m behind Worley now. . .my thinking is just that, if they are really close, you just down play him cause Bray may be (is likely) gone after next year.

  5. By far, my favorite part about this article is that the author feels the need to use two paragraphs to justify his love of Dooley and then love of the Vols. It doesn’t matter if his observations are astute or correct, because he knows that if the Vols faithful even smell a hint of criticism, then they won’t listen to what he has to say. That’s kind of what’s wrong with this program and with this fanbase. I wonder how this would work in other professional fields…

    Dear NASA: Boy, I really, really love your programs. I’m a huge fan of the space agency and the space shuttle. I’ve said it for years and included links to all the positive blog posts I’ve written about you guys. Dude…I LOVE NASA!!! But…here’s the thing. Over the last few shuttle launches I’ve observed large chunks of foam insulation falling off the shuttle. I’m worried that a chunk of foam might damage the shuttle on launch. Just a thought, but maybe you guys should take a look at that and consider a change. Thanks.

    Dear Fan: Typical drivel from an idiot troll. I’m sure the Director, who has directed more launches than you can count, is sitting in his office waiting for your approval. Your letter clearly shows that you have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe you should go cheer for the Russian Space program and talk to them about THEIR foam. Please stop writing so that those of us who actually understand what’s happening can talk about getting the shuttle into space. Thanks…idiot.

    • stickdaddy Says:

      I’m confused, I think you were calling me an idiot, but it kinda looks like you signed your letter to me as “idiot” too. I’m sure this was not your intent, since anyone who works at NASA is clearly smarter than me. Either way, its cool to have an astronaut post on my blog, even if its to tell me how idiotic I am.

      I do appreciate and post all comments, even if they totally disagree with my point of view. Thanks for leaving space long enough to read the pointless ramblings of a dude with a small little blog of here on planet earth. Now get back to more important stuff like launching that shuttle into space. . .sincerely, another idiot fan

      • No, no…I completely agree with your article about burning Worley’s redshirt. I commend you for your opinion.

        Sorry about that. The last two paragraphs were supposed to be a hypothetical conversation from an amateur who is writing to NASA (“Dear NASA”) and then a response from NASA…if NASA was run by Vols fans who call anyone an idiot if they question Dooley’s decisions (See Comments by Ronnie Martin and Steve).

        I’m not criticizing you, what I’m criticizing are all the fans who sheepishly defend everything that Dooley does as if he could not make a mistake in personnel or strategy if he even tried.

        He made a mistake burning Worley’s redshirt. Going to an irrelevant bowl game is not worth getting rid of an extra year of eligibility of Worley’s talents. If any player on the team tends to not go out into the draft early…it’s the QB. It was a stupid decision and it exposes Dooley’s fear that his team is so bad that it won’t get to 6-6 if Matt Sims is under center. THAT is not progress. IMO…hiring Dooley was a mistake.

      • Wow, and I thought my sarcasm detector was functioning properly. I was WAY off on that one, but now that I read it without being pi$$ed off that someone called me an idiot, I understand where you were going. LOL

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