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Tennessee vs. Georgia: What's In A Name?

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Derek Dooley walks the field before a 51-44 loss to Georgia last year, helping the Bulldogs reclaim the Dooley name after the season, when the coach got fired. Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images.
Derek Dooley walks the field before a 51-44 loss to Georgia last year, helping the Bulldogs reclaim the Dooley name after the season, when the coach got fired. Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images.

The Tennessee-Georgia football game finally feels normal again.

It never seemed right that a man named Dooley was the head coach of the Tennessee football team. The last name Dooley is iconic and belongs with the Georgia program, not Tennessee.  

It's a tale of two sides. Two different fan bases that feel different about the last name Dooley. On one side, the last name Dooley stands for 201 coaching wins, one national championship, and six SEC championships. On the other side, the last name Dooley stands for three losing seasons. Two very different meanings of a last name.  

Vince Dooley will not have to arrive at Neyland Stadium wearing orange supporting his son. 

“It probably won’t be difficult for them to not like orange again,” Derek Dooley said. “It was hard enough for them to like it for three years. I think it was harder on my father more than anybody. He’s someone who poured 40 years of his life into building such a great program. It’s hard for him and I understood that because his heart’s at Georgia and that’s where it should be.”  

It just never seemed right, and that is probably why Derek Dooley did not pan out in Big Orange Country. It was never meant to be. It just did not ever feel right. 

“Obviously, I’m more comfortable than I was the last few years,” Vince Dooley said. “You’ve got two loves. You’ve got a family love and you’ve got a school love that’s been my family in a lot of ways for what is now — which somebody pointed out — 50 years because we’re going to have the reunion for my first team next year. I’ve been here a long time and all my family has been raised here, went to school here. Yeah, that was a tough situation.”  

Now that Tennessee/Georgia feels right again, the Vols need a dose of Lane Kiffin magic — in the sense of having a puttering quarterback unleash his best performance of the year, much like what happened in 2009 pre-Dooley. Kiffin and his quarterback, Jonathon Crompton, were mediocre at best during the first month of games in 2009. Then came Georgia waltzing into Neyland Stadium and Crompton found his game, catching Georgia by surprise. The Vols put it to the Bulldogs, 45-19.  

The Vols came into the 2009 Georgia matchup with a 2-3 record: a blowout win over a FCS opponent, a loss to a Pac-12 team, and a loss in the Swamp to Florida. Sound familiar? It may be far-fetched to think the Vols could put together a 45-19 type game like Kiffin did, but it's not far fetched to think that quarterback Justin Worley can have his best performance of the year.  

Crompton threw for 310 yards and four touchdown's against the 2009 Georgia defense that finished ranked 90th nationally against the pass. The 2013 Georgia defense has already given up 1,108 yards through the air and gives Worley a glimpse of hope to do what Crompton did. Worley stands at 725 yards and eight touchdowns entering the Georgia game. Can he turn it around like Crompton did?

Practice Notes: Tennessee running back Rajion Neal was in a green jersey at practice Tuesday. Marlin Lane rode a stationary bike during the media viewing portion of practice. Linebacker Curt Maggitt is participating in practice with the scout team and still appears to be out. Linebacker Greg King has received practice time at fullback. The Vols really do not use a fullback except for short-yardage and goal line situations. Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez were teammates and roommates at Miami. Richt later fired Martinez at UGA in 2009.