Dennis Dodd is a senior columnist for cbssports.com and a well respected college football analyst from CBS. You can check out his answers to my questions as well as his biography from cbssports.com by reading what follows.
No wonder Dennis Dodd loves bowl season. His life kicked off (Dec. 31, 1956) just hours before the 1957 New Year’s Day bowls. To him, though, The Grandaddy of Them All isn’t necessarily the Rose Bowl. Dennis’ grandfather Daniel Barnard was a legendary amateur soccer star in St. Louis in the 1920s. Later, Grandpa worked for the railroad shuttling fans from St. Louis to South Bend on Notre Dame football Saturdays. After somehow getting a journalism degree at the University of Missouri, Dennis started his career in Sherman, . From 1981-89 he worked at the Kansas City Star, pausing long enough to propose to his lovely wife during the seventh-inning stretch of Game 5 of the 1987 World Series. Next were stops at the St. Louis Sun, The National (New York), Omaha World-Herald and SportsWriters Direct. He has worked for CBSSports.com since February 1998 and saw his first game in South Bend later that year. Somewhere, Grandpa was watching.
And now what you all were waiting for…
1. What do you think of the Lane Kiffin departure from UT? How do you think that effected the program in general and in what state do you think he left the program in?
I can’t say Tennessee should have known this could happen when it got into bed with Kiffin. It was somewhat unprecedented. However, the attention has now switched to Tennessee fans who need to get a life and move on. If I see one more Kiffin-Tennessee story I’m going to scream. He left the program in good shape. He recruited well. I doubt the secondary violations will amount to much now that he is gone.
2. What do you think of the Derek Dooley hire? What do you think of the job he has done so far during the five months he has been here? How long does he have and what number of wins does he need to average to keep his job?
Much like Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley has the right last name. I doubt that Dennis Dodd could have gotten the job coming out of Louisiana Tech. The only thing we share is initials. Having said that, Dooley is solid and has done all the right things, so far, salvaging the recruiting class and hiring (and keeping) the right coaches. I have no idea what kind of coach he will be. Coaching in the WAC and coaching in the SEC are two different things.
How long does he have? That’s kind of the problem isn’t it? Let the guy coach a season or two before you ask that question. If he goes 3-9, it won’t be long. If he gets the Vols to a bowl game, there is promise. I don’t know how many wins he needs to average because I don’t know how the rest of the SEC is going to be in the near future. I suspect Tennessee won’t be challenging Florida or Alabama anytime soon.
3. Do you think that the Vols will be competitive in the next two years in conference? BCS bowl? If not how long do you think it will take?
Define competitive. Beat Georgia, Florida and Alabama? Probably not. Not all in one season at least. Go to bowl games? Doable. BCS bowls? No way. Year three of Dooley is probably best to look forward to for right now. But remember that’s assuming Alabama and Florida lessen their grip on the conference just a little.
4. What did you think of the Vols NFL draftee’s this year?
I live in Kansas City. I think the Chiefs had the steal of the first round in Eric Berry. Safeties are more important than ever in the NFL. As we know, Berry can drop down and be a linebacker AND cover a receiver one on one. He could be a guy to build around.
5. Have you seen or heard about the renovations to Neyland Stadium? What do you think about them and in general the benefit of facility upgrades/having the best facilities does for the program?
I’ve seen a little of the renovations. I also know that Michigan is doing the same things — or more — right now. The battle for No. 1 in attendance will go on. Obviously, facilities are important but they’ve always been important. It still comes down to players. Kiffin was able to get them in his one season. Now it’s on Dooley to take advantage of the renovations.
6. I know your a college football guy but what do you think about the job that Coach Bruce Pearl has done with the Vol’s basketball program during his 5 years here in Knoxville? Do you think that he will be able to continue at the high level of success he has had? Why or why not?
I Love what Pearl has done in hoops. He has made them matter at Tennessee. I covered the Vols in the tournament. They weren’t physically imposing, but they were well coached and came within an eyelash of going to the Final Four. Great times ahead for Coach Pearl and the Vols.
7. Predict the Vols record this upcoming year?
I”ll go with 5-7. The offense may be worse than it was last year. The Oregon game will be a swing game. Win that and a bowl may be in the cards.