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Post Tangle of multi-year contracts leads Tennessee to Dooley

Friday January 15, 2010

David Cutcliffe turned down interest from Tennessee and will stay at Duke. Word is coming out that one of the main points of contention had to do with the contractual mess left in the wake of Lane Kiffin.

At issue were the six assistant coaches Tennessee still had under contract, many with multi-year, guaranteed deals. Cutcliffe would have had to retain at least some of those coaches if he came to Knoxville, which meant he would have had to leave some of his current Duke staff behind in Durham.

Cutcliffe’s loyalty to his assistants essentially got him fired at Ole Miss, and it seems to have been the sticking point that kept him from leaving Durham this time. Multi-year contracts can be valuable in attracting a top-quality assistant to your program, and Tennessee made headlines last year for breaking the bank to put together their all-star staff. The money tied up in those assistants though is now coming home to roost, and it has prevented them from landing the next name on their list.

We’ve since learned that Tennessee will reportedly hire Derek Dooley from Louisiana Tech. It would be a great move for Vince’s son, but Dooley will have a tough job of selling his program to fans when they realize that they’ve gone from someone with the career success of Phil Fulmer to Lane Kiffin to someone who is a career 17-20 as Louisiana Tech’s head coach.

We wish Dooley well in the Corleone sense – that is, as best as his interests don’t conflict with ours. But since he’s coaching at Tennessee, those interests will clash early and often. Hopefully he knows better than to come looking for assistants in Athens.

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