Mississippi State is just one game, but the result could determine Derek Dooley’s future at Tennessee. Dooley had to show significant progress in his third season to be retained. Losing here could make that all but impossible.
Tennessee’s schedule is unkind. The Vols are 3-2 and 0-2 in the SEC. If they lose today, they fall to 3-3. With almost guaranteed losses at home to Alabama and on the road at South Carolina the following week, that could become 3-5 and 0-5, leaving Tennessee with a 7-5 regular season ceiling. Remaining games against Missouri, Vanderbilt and even Kentucky are not guaranteed wins either. This year, there would not be an injury spell to blame.
A win is necessary for the Vols, but it won’t come easily. Starkville is a difficult road stop. Mississippi State has a secondary athletic enough to cope with Tennessee’s wide receivers. Dooley can’t even coach this one from the sidelines after having hip surgery. He’ll have to be content being the most fashion-forward football personality in the press box. No frustration gifs, sadly.
Few anticipated miracles from this Tennessee team, but another mediocre season without a single impressive win, conference or otherwise, could seal Dooley’s fate. Three losses would drop him to 4-17 in the SEC for his career.
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