Dooley: Trust has to be earned

It remains to be seen how many games Derek Dooley will win at Tennessee next season or even the next.

He inherits a program that's suffered through 13 losses the last two seasons, and when you survey the lack of depth and inexperience on the roster, it's a program that may well be on the brink of some of its worst days in more than three decades.

Dooley, very much a process-oriented guy, isn't about to offer a timetable for when the Vols might be back among the SEC's elite. He wants to win now, but he's also realistic.

His approach is a refreshing one as he attempts to restore some stability to a program that was once the essence of stability ... not too long ago.

Phillip Fulmer was at Tennessee for 17 seasons before being fired from his alma mater by Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton. Before Fulmer, John Majors served his alma mater for 16 seasons before being ousted.

That's two coaches in 33 seasons.

Now, Dooley is the Vols' third coach in a little more than 14 months following Lane Kiffin's one-and-done rampage through Knoxville.

When Dooley arrived, he found a group of players who were understandably skeptical about anything a coach told them. They were also pretty fragile.

"I told them that I'm never going to ask them to trust me because I do think that's something that you have to earn in time,” Dooley said. “That trust is built over time and in the consistency of how we treat them and in the consistency of how we coach them and the fairness and respect that we do it with."

In other words, there are no quick fixes. And he's not going to make a bunch of hollow promises.

"I feel like our players have made a big jump in the last two months in how they feel about our coaching staff," said Dooley, who just recently wrapped up his first spring practice at Tennessee. "But at the end of the day, it's our job to get them to trust us, not us to demand that they trust us."