Report: Derek Dooley hired at Tennessee

Well, so much for the Lovie Smith-to-Tennessee rumors.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel and other media outlets, Derek Dooley will be named the new head football coach at the University of Tennessee — despite the fact that Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton was scheduled to interview interim head coach Kippy Brown for the job this afternoon.

At this point, however, should we even dismiss Kyle Whittingham from the equation yet? The Utah head coach reportedly was the other finalist, but the way this story has developed, he could be right back in if the Dooley hiring falls through.

Perhaps the oddest twist to the Vols’ coaching search was the emergence of Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith as a possible candidate for the opening. Smith was an assistant to Johnny Majors, but the Bears coach wasn’t interested when the Vols contacted him before Kiffin was hired in 2008.

However, Smith isn’t exactly in a comfortable spot in Chicago, where next season is certainly win-or-else. How genuine was the interest in Smith, and how seriously did he entertain the head gig in Knoxville this time around?

The 41-year-old Dooley, who coached at Louisiana Tech for three seasons and is the son of Georgia legend Vince Dooley, compiled a 17-20 overall record at the school with a 12-12 mark in WAC play. According to the Gannett News Service, Dooley canceled meetings with his players on Wednesday and met with Vols officials on Wednesday and Thursday.

Former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin left Knoxville on Tuesday to take the head job at USC when Pete Carroll bolted for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

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