Nov 17, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray (8) passes against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores beat the Volunteers 41-18. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-US Presswire

Is Tyler Bray The Scapegoat For Derek Dooley's Failure At Tennessee?

On Tuesday Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks published an article about former Tennessee Volunteer quarterback Tyler Bray and what he needs to improve on to be a successful NFL quarterback.

In the article Banks discusses the physical attributes as well as the well documented off-the-field issues Bray faced during his time at Tennessee.

It’s the following sentence that may cause Vol fans to raise their eyebrows.

It also didn’t help that Bray lost his biggest sponsor at Tennessee in Kiffin, and there are those who believe Dooley has scapegoated him to some degree with NFL teams, in an effort to explain his own coaching failures with the Vols.

Now that probably doesn’t come as a surprise to Vol fans if true.

You could tell there was no love lost between Bray and Derek Dooley last year, especially during Dooley’s last game against Vanderbilt.  Dooley benched Bray shortly before halftime, before inserting him back into the game in the third quarter. The tension between the two was palpable.

The next week, after Dooley was fired by athletic director Dave Hart, the Volunteers beat Kentucky under interim coach Jim Chaney. Many believe that the post-game celebration, which included the dousing of Gatorade on Chaney (led by Bray) was a shot at Dooley.

You can make your own conclusions with that.

The fact of the matter is if the allegations that Dooley has used Bray as a scapegoat is true, and it wouldn’t be shocking if it were, then that would be a travesty.

Tyler Bray just turned 21 years old. Yes he’s made some poor decisions, who among us hasn’t? At the end of the day Bray has to deal with the consequences of those actions, be it legal consequences or social consequences that affect his reputation. The way the draft process is these days you can be assured that he has had to address those issues ad nauseum the past two months.

Derek Dooley on the other hand is 44 years old. I don’t see how any 44 year old can justify blaming a college aged kid for his coaching failures. If anything Dooley should have been in Bray’s corner. That’s what coaches are for, especially college coaches.

There were many factors that went into the firing of Derek Dooley and I’m not sure how high Tyler Bray was on that that list.

I don’t see how Bray had anything to do with Dooley’s recruiting failures as noted by Stephen Hargis in November.

I’m also not sure what affect Bray had on the defense either, which was the biggest issue for Tennessee last season. The Vol’s were ranked 109 out of 124 in points allowed last season.

As far as the offense goes last season was one of the most prolific for a Tennessee offense ever. The Volunteers averaged 36 points a game, their most since 1996.

Bray also nearly broke several passing records held by Peyton Manning.

Even with Bray’s off-the-field issues and poor attitude at times, it would be very hard to blame Dooley’s coaching woes on him.

No college coach should ever blame a player for his own ineptitude. A coach is a leader, a leader doesn’t pass the blame down the line, he steps up and takes responsibility.

The allegations against Dooley are just that — allegations. With all the information out there, especially the article from Hargis, and our own conversations with high school coaches they do seem like logical allegations.

Regardless of if all this is true or not the fact that a former coach could possibly hurt Bray’s draft stock is disheartening at the least.

One has to wonder what Bray’s Tennessee career would’ve been like with Butch Jones as his coach. Jones has expressed on more then one occasion that developing his players into men is one of his main focuses as a coach.

I can’t imagine Butch Jones ever placing the blame on a player for his failures.

Tennessee fans are trying to put the Dooley era to rest, but it’s not easy when things like this keep creeping back into the discussion.

What do you think about Derek Dooley and the comments about Tyler Bray?



Next Volunteers Game Full schedule »

Tags: Football NFL Draft Tennessee Volunteers

comments powered by Disqus