Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley's Hot Seat Cooling

By Patrick Schmidt

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley may be the next to step in front of the firing line in the SEC unless he can force a stay of execution with an extended winning streak and bowl game to close out the season.

One coach in the SEC has already been notified that he won’t be returning when Kentucky announced last week Joker Phillips is on his way out, and rumors are circulating that Gene Chizik’s days are numbered at Auburn.

Dooley has been on the hot seat for the better part of the season and has yet to win a game against a ranked time during his three year tenure in Knoxville, Tn. and has never finished with a winning record.

Furthermore, the Volunteers seemingly have regressed since Dooley’s first season dipping from six wins his first year to just five last year and currently sit at 5-6 with nary a conference win.

His 4-17 record in conference is not going to earn him an extension any time soon, but he may get to see 2013 if he can finish the season with a flourish.

The Volunteers snapped a four-game losing streak, each to ranked teams, last Saturday with a win over Troy and have home dates with Missouri and Kentucky and a trip to Vanderbilt this Saturday.  The three teams have combined to go 10-17 this season, so finishing the season with a four-game winning streak is feasible.

Provided this happens, Tennessee would finish with a 7-5 record and earn a trip to a bowl game, possibly the Liberty or Music City bowl, and if they win that game, Dooley could keep his job and coach the team in 2013.

The teams Tennessee has lost too are among the nation’s elite and all five are ranked with a combined record of 39-6.  When you factor in the difficult schedule the team played last year and you can give Dooley the benefit of the doubt—albeit temporarily.

Expectations are high at Tennessee and Dooley was hired following the Lane Kiffin fiasco to provide stability at the coaching position where there was three head coaches from 2008-2010, but if he doesn’t win out, then Dooley will find himself in the same boat as Phillips and perhaps Chizik.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here

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