Indications are that Derek Dooley will be named the next coach at Tennessee.
A person intimately involved in the search told CBSSports.com Dooley was "a great hire," Friday afternoon although no formal announcement had been made. At least three other outlets had reported that Dooley was expected to be Tennessee's choice. Knoxville radio station WNML first reported that Dooley was the choice at about noon ET.
Govolsextra.com reported that Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton would interview current assistant Kippy Brown at 1 p.m. ET.
Dooley apparently did not tell his Louisiana Tech staff of his departure but reportedly cancelled player meetings to travel from Ruston, La. to Knoxville. The son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley has a 17-20 in three seasons as head coach at Louisiana Tech.
As recently as Thursday night, Tennessee officials met with Utah coach Kyle Whittingham in Salt Lake City according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Whittingham turned down a job offer according to the newspaper. Earlier this week, CBSSports.com reported that Tennessee had offered Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp $3 million per season. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Friday he was staying at the school.
Dooley is a former walk-on receiver at Virginia who earned a scholarship in his second season. He went to earn his law degree from Georgia in 1994. He practiced law for two years in Atlanta before getting into coaching.
His coaching career started with Georgia in 1996 as a grad assistant under Jim Donnan. From there he went to SMU to three years before joining LSU in 2000. That’s where his career took off. Dooley coached tight ends, running backs, special teams and was the recruiting coordinator under Nicks Saban from 2000-2004
Dooley then followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins. In 2007, he was hired by Louisiana Tech. Dooley seemingly comes highly recommended by Nick Saban and Muschamp. All three were on the staff together at LSU.
Muschamp reportedly recommended Dooley to Tennessee after he was pursued by Vols AD Mike Hamilton. Dooley had recommended by Muschamp and Kirby Smart to Saban at LSU. Smart is now the Alabama defensive coordinator under Saban.
As LSU’s recruiting coordinator, Dooley helped LSU land the No. 1-ranked recruiting classes in 2001 and 2003.
Dooley is expected to inherit the majority of Lane Kiffin's former staff. It was Cutcliffe's unwillingness to do so that kept the Duke coach and former Tennessee assistant from progressing further in talks with Hamilton.
The leftover members of Kiffin's are still recruiting, according to one of those coaches. Coach or no coach, Tennessee is expected to have a group of recruits in this weekend for official visits.