Derek and Allison Dooley on their life's playbook

Derek and Allison Dooley 'love' living in Big Orange Country. 'How can you not ... Look around. It's beautiful here,' said Coach Dooley.

Photo by David Luttrell/Knoxville Magazine

Derek and Allison Dooley "love" living in Big Orange Country. "How can you not ... Look around. It's beautiful here," said Coach Dooley.

Derek and Allison Dooley 'love' living in Big Orange Country. 'How can you not ... Look around. It's beautiful here,' said Coach Dooley.

Photo by David Luttrell/Knoxville Magazine

Derek and Allison Dooley "love" living in Big Orange Country. "How can you not ... Look around. It's beautiful here," said Coach Dooley.

Allison Dooley is an OB/GYN and gains perspective from being a doctor. 'I love football, and I want to win too, but it's still just a game.'

Photo by David Luttrell/Knoxville Magazine

Allison Dooley is an OB/GYN and gains perspective from being a doctor. "I love football, and I want to win too, but it's still just a game."

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley poses with his wife Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley and children, from left, Peyton, Juliana and John Taylor  press conference in the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complex at Neyland Stadium Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley poses with his wife Dr. Allison Jeffers Dooley and children, from left, Peyton, Juliana and John Taylor press conference in the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complex at Neyland Stadium Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

IF you don't like it, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it." Those are words Coach Derek Dooley lives by.

It's also the attitude he took when he describes a memorable family vacation: Disney World, 2009:

"It was important to have a ‘team' meeting - a family meeting - about what we were heading into. Like life, things we encounter affect our patience and our attitude, but you can't let them affect your happiness. So we spent the week, while we waited in hour and a half long lines and intense heat, looking at families to see who was handling it well and who wasn't. We knew it was gonna be hard going in, but we were not gonna let it affect our joy.

"We had so much fun. It was one of the best vacations we've ever had. "

That's perspective.

That's also his strategy, which resonates both on and off the field. Whether Coach Dooley and his wife, Allison, are negotiating with their three kids -- John Taylor, 11, Peyton, 8, or Juliana, 6 -- or negotiating with his young football team, he will tell you he's judging kids on effort and attitude. "If you get those and they're good, then you can live with the results," he says assuredly.

So how has settling into Big Orange Country been for the Dooley family? "We love it," they say genuinely. "How can you not?" adds Coach. "Look around. It's beautiful here." The kids also seem to be adjusting well since the family arrived full time the first of March. Peyton and Juliana will resume the school year at Sequoyah Elementary while John Taylor will start middle school at Webb.

Since the boys are also football players, Allison is not quite sure what game days will look like for her just yet. "We used to have three football games to go to on Saturdays - the boys' and then dad's -- but I hear a lot of the kids' games are during the week, so we'll see." That's in addition to her other game day duties: cooking, entertaining guests, getting kids ready and making it to the game.... "Saturdays are hard for Allison," says Coach. "Everything falls on her, and I am absolutely no help." Allison calls out her Type A personality, but laughs, "At the very least, I just try not to have to serve fast food to my guests."

Originally from Texas, Allison draws upon the similarities of Knoxville and Fort Worth when she was growing up as "a big enough city with a small town feel." Knoxville is also reminiscent of the University of Virginia where the two went to school and first met. It's important to Allison to establish roots and a sense of community wherever she lives. She says, "When we move, I approach it as if we'll stay there forever." A testament to her sense of community is a fundraiser she launched for Susan G. Komen while they were in Louisiana to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Both Derek and Allison's mothers are survivors. "The closest resources were 30 minutes away, so I wanted to do something locally," she says.

Allison views Louisiana Tech as a good transition to her new role as a high profile SEC coach's wife. "There's more company, more entertaining, more time being put into my husband's job," she says, "but it's the high profile that's the interesting part now," as she relates comments from her youngest, Juliana.

"I don't understand why people keep coming up to dad," Juliana said.

"Because dad's the head coach of Tennessee," John Taylor answered, to which Juliana's rebuttal was, "So?"

No surprise, as the youngest Dooley dances around the living room amidst lights and cameras, oblivious to the four strangers who are focused on her parents. She's just interested in the popcorn.

Keeping their kids grounded is essential to both Allison and Derek. Some insight came several years ago during a game at Southern Methodist University where Derek was coaching. Allison recalls the moment when, with just a couple of seconds left, SMU tried for a field goal. The children of the Special Teams' coach were there and, with their back to the field, began praying the kicker would make the goal so their dad wouldn't get fired.

"At that moment I realized I never wanted my kids to think football games were life or death," she says. "We're not going to define our lives by wins or losses. I want them to realize we're just people like everyone else." Coach adds that he tells his kids, "The attention you get publicly is because of the position we're in, not because we're something special."

It's evident creating balance on his home turf is as important as preparing for game days on the football turf. "When you come home you have to ask yourself ‘what are your hours like?'" he explains. "They may not be as many hours as I'm spending at work, but I'm improving on not being consumed and picking up my Blackberry every minute."

As for the adage, "This marriage has been temporarily interrupted for football," Coach replies, "We try not to follow that rule. You have to make time for relationships and families in order to grow. You can't just say ‘stand-by for seven months out of the year.'"

Allison works hard with Derek and the other staff wives to create time for family during football season. Mondays mean "Family Night." When the team and coaches come off the practice field, all the wives, kids and other family members are waiting so everyone can have dinner and spend time together.

Allison, who is an OB/GYN physician, gains much perspective from being a doctor. "I've seen so many awful things that impact how you look at life. I love football, and I want to win, too, but it's still just a game. I want my kids to understand that."

But try and tell certain Vol fans "it's ‘just' a game'" and you might be met with a little push back. Coach recognizes, however, that pressure is an inevitable part of the position. "There's the same pressure everywhere because obviously everyone wants to win. It's just more vocal here," he smiles.

The obvious question wherever Derek Dooley goes is if he's constantly in the shadow of his dad, legendary Georgia Bulldog football coach, Vince Dooley, who he admits "was excited for me" upon hearing Derek was being considered for the Tennessee coaching job. While Derek says they share some philosophical similarities, he admits, "You can't shake it, and there's certainly benefit from it, but I want to prove my own mettle as a coach. My biggest stride so far was coaching under Nick Saban. He didn't keep me around because of who I was. He only keeps people around that do a good job. So the way I know I can shake (the comparisons) is to prove my own mettle - in time."

And part of proving that mettle is getting Tennessee football back on solid ground. "I want to reestablish what made this program so special, and that's winning and stability," Coach says.

Given what's happened over the last couple of years, Coach talks about his team's potential at this point. "There's been lots of attrition, so going in, our roster has a lot of youth and inexperience. It's not where we want to be, but it will be fun to watch this team grow."

Coach Dooley has already established a new school of thought: the VFL - Vol for Life. "I am about investing in players' personal growth," he says. "I draw from my own experience that I was no different than a lot of these players, but I realized that you learn from listening, or you fall hard. We changed the culture at Louisiana Tech when I was there, and I'm proud of that."

It is clear, now, Coach Dooley is ready to kick off a new culture at UT. He doesn't have any traditions, superstitions or rituals that he's planning to introduce to the team or Vol fans, though he says he's big on routine. "It builds confidence," he says. "It goes back to creating stability."

There's little question Volunteer fans will jump on Coach Dooley's "Vol for Life" bandwagon. For many, being a Vol already is their life. Yet others will simply look to Dooley to breathe new life into the Volunteer spirit and bring a winning Tennessee tradition back to life. That, rest assured, has been "Dooley" noted.

© 2010 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 30

orangeinbama writes:

I think we have a keeper for a coach.. I know we have a man of principals and integrity. I hope it works out for all of us in Vol Nation...

GerryOP writes:

What a precious gift the Dooley family is to big Orange Country.

oskie_score writes:

The University, the asst. coaches and staff, the players and the fans are fortunate to have Derek Dooley as Head Coach.

IMO, when all is said and done, CDD will have made a measurable impact on this storied program.

dk writes:

I just wish that he had been hired last year.

FTA7728 writes:

I am really beginning to like these guys!

mountainbrook writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You don't need to vomit......you ARE vomit.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It now runs in LA. Hopefully, you can find a one way ride West to join it :)

GerryOP writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It must be sad for you to be you.

TommyJack writes:

Nice

atlkevin writes:

What a refreshing story. Two confident, successful people raising a family.

That Allison sounds like a real winner-- brains, beauty, and a solid head on her shoulders.

Welcome to Knoxville, Dooleys!

GerryOP writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You have our sympathy for you having to be you.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

You don't need to vomit......you ARE vomit.

The Dr.kept the after birth and threw away the baby when you were born.You are a prime example as to why your parents regret not useing birth control.

volstout writes:

Let's give the man a chance. He has integrity and a good sense for football. Give him time and then make a judgement. He inherited a train wreck... lane trane wreck.............

orangecountyvols writes:

You know, it's sad isn't it.........when there is a really nice article about a decent family, one who has their lives going in the right direction, and along comes a piece of trash for a human being who just can't resist being an idiot along with other similar trolls.

Sorry, but if something befalls this clown, I will never offer any sympathy, no matter what it is.

allvol9 writes:

What a great family. I am very proud to have them in Knoxville. Just wish they had been here last year instead of the joke that we had. Proud to have the Dooley's here. Go Vols!

bsdsd writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seriously? Seriously. I'm guessing you are one of those who voted for Lane on Esquire.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Ah a beautiful women looks even more beautiful in Orange!

Bring back REAL VOL FANS!!!

Fire Reverend Moe Ron Naffy!!!!
Any Moe Ron that hates Peyton Manning is bound to be stupid enough to love a horses @ss!

murrayvol writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not yet....but he will.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to XandrdC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Another weirdo comes forward. Someone who never played any sports and thinks people who did are wrong. Of course those things you mentioned are important but the "saving lives and building homes" comment is unrelated here and YOU need to keep your eye on the ball.

VOLinAthensGA writes:

in response to XandrdC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First of all, why are YOU reading an entertainment magazine? Shouldn't YOU be following up your words with action? Go save some lives while we support our coach, who, if you read the entire article, CAN make a difference in these kids that he coaches with the Vol For Life Program. Give me a break.

Wayfarer writes:

First, it is refreshing to read about the Dooley family and how Coach and Dr. Dooley makes a home base for their kids. How both parents understand being parents even in high profile jobs. I do think that the Dooley family is a good fit with UT and Knoxville. I like what I've read and seen so far from CD2 as a coach and I believe we will see results.

Second, in response to XandrdC. Any student athlete that Coach Dooley helps be a better man, citizen or father does help the world the at large! That is why people like Pat Summitt, Bruce Pearl or Derrick Dooley become coaches. They know that they can pass on their knowledge to young people and make a different in their lives. One member of the Dooley family does save lives. I am fairly sure that Dr. Dooley over the course of her medical career has most likely saved many lives of babies, mothers and others as a doctor. And given her comment about helping her kids understand it is games is spot on with the Dooleys having the right perspective on life. Given the comments about Dr Dooley's charity work for the Susan G Komen Foundation, I would not be surprised to learn that the Dooley family is involved in other charity work or giving.

You make a rather lame statement without considering how UT coaches impact this area as well as their players. Pat Summitt, Bruce Pearl, as well as former Coach Fulmer, have chaired the United Way drives in Knoxville. UT players and coaches volunteer throughout our city for the Boys and Girls Clubs, Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and other charities so I am fairly sure that Coach Dooley and his family will impact our city and our community in a very positive way, which in turn will make this little part of the world at large a better place.

GerryOP writes:

Good post Wayfarer. Props to you!

OTPVol writes:

Naffy, MalcolmX, muddfudda, just got off the phone with my psychic and she channeled an old friend, Lewis Grizzard, he said to tell y'all Atlanta ain't that far away and Delta has flights leaving every minute.

Dooley family, it's great to have you in East Tennessee. We hope it's your home from now on. Welcome home to Big Orange country!

CroKev writes:

I agree Wayfarer- good post. I do have a question about the United Way, though. When I lived in Knoxville during the 80's, the UW was the largest benefactor of abortions in E. Tennessee. Since one of the commenters above was concerned about saving lives, I'm wondering if the UW ever changed their giving policy with regard to Planned Parenthood.

givehim6 writes:

Love there middle boys name Peyton Dooley , and he plays football! Wonder what position he plays?

AJVol writes:

I'm a life long Vol fan, and I couldn't be more proud of the Dooley family. They seem to be GREAT role models for young men AND women, real deep rooted family values that the last jack-arse didn't and could never have! It means something to have a coach that wants to build character as well as win championships! GO VOLS!

Southland writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please by all means coninue to support the Lane Train Join the USC website and leave this one

69grad writes:

in response to naffy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know who you are and I have you in my sights.

VolVolFan writes:

Welcome Coach Dooley and family. I am looking so forward to this season and many more with the Dooley's on board. What a classy family.

Wayfarer writes:

in response to CroKev:

I agree Wayfarer- good post. I do have a question about the United Way, though. When I lived in Knoxville during the 80's, the UW was the largest benefactor of abortions in E. Tennessee. Since one of the commenters above was concerned about saving lives, I'm wondering if the UW ever changed their giving policy with regard to Planned Parenthood.

I found this concerning Planned Parenthood from a Feb 2010 KNS article: "The nonprofit organization provides birth control, counseling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, education and RU486, a drug that can terminate pregnancies for up to nine weeks. It does not perform surgical abortions in Knoxville, primarily because there are an adequate number of other providers in this area."

There are many services the PP offers that women in this area need and because of that need I understand why they receive funds from United Way. My friend, who lost her job over a year ago, receives regular GYN care from PP which in her case is important since both her mother and sister have had cervical cancer. Beside having to struggle financially during this time she could also be emotionally terrified if she wasn't able to receive the medical exams that PP has provided for her. Part of the United Way dollars that PP receives helps people like my friend.

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