I look everywhere for lessons, quotes, and motivational snippets to share with my followers. Many of you also know that I am a big University of Tennessee fan. I just watched the University go through it's own bit of recession. I do not mean to harp on sports or Tennessee, but when it comes to communications in times of crisis, I couldn't resist sharing this quote.
Tennessee had taken a huge risk in hiring Lane Kiffin as their head coach. When Lane came in, he immediately started making high profile remarks against solid programs such as Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama. He made accusations and tabloid type rumors as sensationalism. We all wrote that off as a young and cocky coach making a splash. He later stated that it was a strategy to land high profile recruits which paid off when some of the top recruits chose Tennessee at the last minute. I defended these actions to friends (and really to myself) because of the results. I would tell people who would ask me that he had to get in the national spotlight to make up for time lost in recruiting. I always had that uneasy feeling about the antics, yet I would try to reason them away. For those of you have read my book, Kiffin was no doubt firing Scud missiles! He continued his antics until finally, he shocked the entire Tennessee family by abruptly leaving Tennessee for his dream job of USC.
As tough as that was to hear, my wife and I had several discussions about what Tennessee players must feel like. Many of them decided to come to Tennessee because of him and then he just left. As many of these players who are learning to become men, the sense of abandonment must be overwhelming. Less than 3 days later, Tennessee hired Derek Dooley as their new head coach.
Of course the press has had a field day with this story. There are many young men out there searching for which program will suit them and the media loves controversial stories. There are reports that Kiffin and his staff are telling Tennessee recruits not to attend class so they can get around some rules and enroll to USC with them. Many of the same antics he did when he came to Tennessee, so nobody should be surprised that he is doing that now that he left Tennessee. Among all of the controversy and widespread speculation, Tennessee hires Coach Dooley. Roughly four hours from taking the job, Coach Dooley is standing at the podium for a press conference. As reported by UTSports.com:
A radio reporter asked Dooley if he would call any Southern California recruits and ask them not to go to class, making reference to reports that previous staff members had done the same to some of the Vols' mid-term enrollees when leaving UT.
Dooley just waved his right hand.
"Look guys, if you're going to look for sound bites and things from me that's going to attack other programs and disparage people, that's just not how I am," Dooley said. "I'm worried about Tennessee. I'm worried about what we need to get our program going, and I'm going to always keep my focus on that.
"I think when you're worrying about somebody else, what other people are doing, then you're not taking care of your own house. We got plenty to be feeling good about in this program, and that's what we should keep our focus on. The times of worrying about what happened are over."
There was a round of applause from a shocked community praying for comfort. It would have been so easy to make a remark against Kiffin or to make a joke to try to get a quick win from the fanbase. It would have been understandable to try to say something funny to hopefully win some favor from a hurt Tennessee program. Instead, with dignity and respect, he made a commitment to focus on what we can do and to leave the grandstanding and headline grabbing remarks for other coaches. To me, that was a lesson in class. Welcome Coach Dooley.