Tennessee football: Vols 5 worst seasons with second-year head coach

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12: Head Coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers signals to the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Volunteers 49 to 7. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12: Head Coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers signals to the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Volunteers 49 to 7. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /

2. Derek Dooley

Year: 2011

Record: 5-7 (1-7)

The story of Derek Dooley is the exact opposite of Harvey Robinson. Dooley inherited a program on fire due to attrition. You could seriously not inherit a worse situation than what Dooley inherited when he first took over in 2010.

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Things were falling apart under Phillip Fulmer, and the firing of him made it worse by dividing the program. Then Lane Kiffin was hired and bolted after a year, putting Tennessee football on probation and under NCAA investigation in the process while dismissing half the team with his one recruiting class, which turned into a bust.

This is what Dooley walked into. Still, he went 6-7 in 2010, squeaking into a bowl game and losing a heartbreaker. Improvements were expected his second season in 2011, but the problem was this team was even younger, and the depth still wasn’t there.

Meanwhile, the Vols drew the three best teams from the SEC West that year, who also just happened to be the three best teams in the country: the LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks. It was the worst break possible for Dooley. Oh, and the change in athletic directors from Mike Hamilton to Dave Hart that season made for another distraction.

With all that happening, Dooley got the worst of luck even in the season. He lost his one offensive weapon in Justin Hunter in the Florida Gators game, which they lost. Two weeks later, he lost his quarterback, Tyler Bray. So Dooley already has a mess and a brutal schedule and he lost his quarterback and go-to receiver.

As a result, the Vols had a disastrous October. They got blown out by LSU and Alabama and lost to the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks. In November, they got blown out by Arkansas.

Bray finally returned late in the year for a win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in overtime, but the beatdown of the season finally took its tool on the Vols mentally the next week. They suffered a 10-7 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, blowing a chance at a bowl and ending a 27-year winning streak when UK had a receiver at quarterback. That loss alone pretty much wrecked Dooley.

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Now, it’s safe to say Dooley made mistakes this second season. But Tennessee football had never been in a worse place, and he had a very short stick to compete with. Everything came crashing down with that Kentucky game, though, and such a collapse made this one of the worst seasons in school history. Dooley’s another guy who had a bad second year and did fail overall as a coach.