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Tennessee gets Dooley

Associated Press / January 16, 2010

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Tennessee’s whirlwind search for a coach ended yesterday with the Volunteers hiring Derek Dooley of Louisiana Tech.

Like his predecessor - Lane Kiffin - he comes with a short head coaching résumé.

The son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, Derek Dooley went 17-20 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and was the only coach in major college football to also serve as his school’s athletic director. He holds a law degree and previously worked for several years under Nick Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins.

“Derek is one of the bright young coaches in America. He understands our league and the competitive environment in which we compete,’’ Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said. “He took a very difficult first head coaching job and has made significant strides there in a short period of time.’’

“Louisiana Tech University and the Ruston community will always hold a special place in my heart,’’ Dooley said in a statement yesterday. “The foundation for success has been established and a bright future lies ahead for the university and the athletics program.’’

The Volunteers hired him just days after Kiffin abruptly quit, bolting to Southern California only 14 months into his tenure with the Vols.

Louisiana Tech named offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo interim coach and formed a committee to find a full-time replacement for Dooley.

Gerhart opts for NFL
Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart is entering the NFL draft instead of staying at Stanford for a fifth season. Gerhart said he is dropping out of school immediately to prepare for the NFL combine next month and the draft. Gerhart could have stayed for a fifth year because he played just one game in 2007 because of a knee injury.

Gerhart ran for a school-record 1,871 yards and a nation-leading 28 touchdowns this season. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and finished second in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama’s Mark Ingram in the closest vote ever.

Gerhart helped lead Stanford to its first bowl bid in eight years. The Cardinal (8-5) lost to Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.

Elsewhere, Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft after the advisory committee projected him as a second-round pick. But UCLA kicker Kai Forbath is returning for his senior season. Forbath won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker and was a second-team AP All-American.

Running back Harvey Unga, BYU’s career rushing leader with 3,455 yards in three seasons, is also staying for his final season.

Cutcliffe stays at Duke
This is something Duke hasn’t been able to claim before: Its football coach would rather be in charge of the Blue Devils than one of the Southeastern Conference’s traditional powers. David Cutcliffe hopes his decision to withdraw from Tennessee’s coaching search comes with the added benefit of stability for a Duke program that through the years has fired its unsuccessful coaches and lost its good ones to more glamorous jobs. “As much as my stomach’s hurt the last two days,’’ Cutcliffe said, “I hope it means a lot going forward.’’ After considering the Tennessee opening, Cutcliffe said he would remain with the Blue Devils. He twice was an assistant to longtime friend and mentor Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee . . . Georgia landed a defensive coordinator, hiring Dallas Cowboys line coach Todd Grantham to a three-year contract worth $750,000 annually . . . David McMichael is returning to West Virginia as an assistant coach after nine seasons at Connecticut . . . Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is leaving behind star quarterback Case Keenum to take the same post at Oklahoma State . . . The Tide’s Saban moved director of player development Jeremy Pruitt to linebackers coach.