Blog Entry

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

Posted on: August 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:46 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We're not going to condemn Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley for having former Volunteer Leonard Little speak to his team at practice yesterday. We don't know what Little said or didn't say to the Vols. We don't know what messages he may or may not have delivered.

What we know is that Dooley said this about Little's visit, per the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

"Leonard's got his picture on the wall, he was an All-American, he was a part of one of those banners in there," Dooley said. "That's what we're playing for. He's a guy who lived it, he breathed it.

"I think he lost about four games in his career and then he went on to be a great NFL player. So, he represents everything to me that Tennessee is all about. The more guys like that come back, I love it when they get in front of the team."

What we also know is that in October 1998, Little left a birthday party drunk, ran a red light, and crashed into the vehicle of a woman named Susan Gutweiler. Gutweiler died, leaving behind a husband and 15-year-old son. Little registered a blood-alcohol level of .19 and was setenced to probation. Six years later, Little was pulled over for doing 78 in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. He failed his roadside sobriety tests and was arrested and charged with DWI again. (He was later acquitted of the DWI but sentence to two morey ears' probation for speeding.)

Again, for emphasis: who Dooley asks to speak at his practices is entirely his business. We're not criticizing the decision to have Little speak to his team, whatever he might have had to say (or, maybe, because of what he might have had to say).

But we feel compelled to say this: neither Little's presence at practice nor his achievements on the field required Dooley to offer this level of unqualified praise.

Every college football coach -- Dooley very much included -- is fond of saying that what a football player does off the field is just as important as what he does on it. But when Dooley tells us Little "represents everything that Tennessee is all about" in spite of his notorious criminal record, when he tells us what's truly important is how many games Little won in Knoxville and how successful his pro career was, it's obvious just how empty that lip service is.

UPDATE: Asked by the News-Sentinel about the post above, Dooley clarified his statements regarding Little:
"He epitomizes Vol for Life, because the program doesn't give up on you. He even offered to come talk to our team, and I'm going to get him to come talk to our team, about where he was at that low point and how he came out of it.

"I think it's something to be proud of, I really do. Not the mistake he made, but I think it's a realization that we all make mistakes, our players are going to make mistakes, but the key is when you make them, how do you respond? ... I think he's a great representative, not because of what he did but because of how he handled it. That's what life is all about to me ... 

Today was really just about how he felt he became a great player and what's important about becoming a good player. It was right before practice, it wasn't the time to go into his story, but we're going to have that moment when it's the right time."
To which we would respond: more power to him, and to Little. If the present Vols can learn anything at all from Little's background, then hopefully some positive can come out of the horrific negatives in Little's past. As we said above: the complaint registered here was never about Little's presence at practice.

The complaint was exclusively in regards to Dooley's comments, which ignored Little's "story" entirely in favor of listing his (apparently far more important) football accomplishments. And though we still wince at Dooley casually labeling the death of Susan Gutweiler a mere "mistake," the fuller context of Little's importance to the team does soften those previous remarks. We would suggest that next time, Dooley provide that context to begin with.


Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:02 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

Thanks, I've in new occasions been making an attempt to search out details of this subject for ages and yours definitely is definitely the main We have uncovered thus far.

Since: Aug 24, 2011
Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:38 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"


Perhaps revisiting the facts of the case would benefit you, as well.  The woman did not "step out in front of him."  And alcohol certainly played a role in the crash.  Little, speeding, ran a red light in his Lincoln Navigator and hit her IN HER VEHICLE.  She did not contribute to the accident in anyway except for the misfortune of being in the path of a 7ooo pound hunk of metal being operated by a drunk.  The accident happened at Memorial and Market in downtown St. Louis and there are dozens of articles on the accident if you do care to learn the facts.

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:26 am

All about

can't dooley find any former players who aren't criminals / drunks to address the team? 

Since: Aug 23, 2011
Posted on: August 23, 2011 1:57 pm

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

In the very first paragraph of this article, the author says "We don't know what Little said or didn't say to the Vols. We don't know what messages he may or may not have delivered.".  Then he proceeds to make assumptions about the purpose of Little's visit and speech to the team, and proceeds to judge  Coach Dooley based on those assumptions.  If the author had any journalistic integrity, he would have at least made an attempt to find out what Little spoke to the team about (which was his mistakes and encouraging the players NOT to make the same decisions) before writing this article.  Even in his update, he twists direct quotes from Dooley out of context to fit his preconceived biases against Coach Dooley.  Dooley was referring to Little's choices as the mistake, not the death of Susan Gutweiler.  Even a third-grader could have picked up on that one.

In short, this is yet another example of someone affiliated with CBS Sports sensationalizing an event without doing any fact checking beforehand, and then effectively judging the situation based on nothing more than personal opinion.  The final line of the article "We would suggest that next time, Dooley provide that context to begin with." is a joke considering that this was Hinnen himself making these unfounded judgments.  This was a personal opinion, and for Hinnen to misappropriate "we" to try to spread the criticism around, he just exposes himself as a biased individual who places himself above the facts.

Since: Aug 15, 2007
Posted on: August 23, 2011 12:02 pm

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

Anyone care to discuss facts or do you wish to leave those out because it would ruin a good story? Little was given such a light sentance because of how the accident went down. The woman ran out in front of him. The defence was actually it happened so fast it did not matter if he had been drinking or not. He was driving she was running to cross the street and he never saw her.  This was from eye witnesses. The second was thrown out because he was not over the legal limit. He had maybe a beer or glass of wine and probably stepped with his left foot instead of right when the field test was given. He did a breathalizer and passed. But like I said don't let the facts get in the way of a good story

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:39 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

I originally cringed when I heard DD's statements about Little.  I also thought there would be more to the situation.  EVERYONE deserves redemption.  Those among you without sin cast the first stone...
I guess he could have Travis Henry come back and talk about planning a family or Albert Haynesworth could give his famous "How To Stomp your Opponent" speech, but seriously, hopefully Little has grown up along with E. Ainge - their stories of overcoming drugs, addictions, immaturity and poor choices can help a youthful team avoid those pitfalls.
Dooley is one of the smartest coaches in college football.  Let's also hope there is substance to these Vol For Life visits.

Since: Apr 11, 2009
Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:00 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

I only hope if I drive drunk at over twice the legal limit and KILL someone that I'm able to "clean up" my act by getting 6 years of "PROBATION" instead of severing 10+ years in jail like the rest of the "non-celebrity" population would have to. The selective enforcement of our laws is absolutely DISGUSTING !!!

Since: Aug 23, 2011
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:57 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

I realize that from some of the comments here I am in the minority, but as a Vol alum who has been attending games since 1969, I believe Coach Dooley could have shown a little better judgement here.  It's all about perception.  Leonard Little was a phenomenal player on the field for the Vols, but so were Dwayne Goodrich and Albert Haynesworth and I wouldn't want either of them addressing the team either UNLESS they were expressing regret about the choices they had also made.  Are any of us perfect?  Uh, no.  That's not the point.  The point is whether or not someone who served little time for vehicular homicide, only to, again, be arrested for DUI, should be given the opportunity to address the team as some type of on the field role model unless his off the field escapades are also put into context.  Coach Dooley, who as a former attorney should have known to vet this entire excercise, has spoken about character and doing things the right way as he prepares his players for life after football. This has been one of the major parts of his Vol For Life program.  Unfortunately, he fell short this one time when he allowed a former great on the field to blur that line.  Just one man's opinion.

Since: Aug 23, 2011
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:27 am

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

It is my understanding that Little spoke to the team about the importance of making good choices in life. Seems to me that he'd be a great speaker on that topic. He's made mistakes, we all have. Now, he's using his experience to guide others not to make the same mistakes he's made. As a Vol fan, I am happy to see Mr. Little return to Tennessee and speak to the team.

Since: Aug 22, 2011
Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:33 pm

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

Stolen any Girl Scout Cookies lately?   Football season starts for almost all college teams in less than two weeks.  You must think it is time to take a pot shot at probably the most ethical and character oriented coach in the college ranks.  You must have been one of those kids who brought a pea shooter to class instead of studying.  Now go get your Pulitzer.  Jack already has one and it didn't make him a better man.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or