Dooley to wear multiple hats for Bulldogs
Derek Dooley normally has logged several rounds of golf by now, but the only fairways he's seeing are in his sleep.
He's not getting much of that, either.
"This is the time that coaches catch their breath," Dooley said Friday. "I certainly haven't been able to do that."
On March 6, Dooley added the title of athletic director to his résumé. He officially takes over the department at the end of June after Jim Oakes steps down, but the job-juggling already has started for the 39-year-old.
Spring football practice opened Saturday for the Bulldogs, and the search is under way for a "COO, second in command," to assist Dooley with running the day-to-day operations of a department that has 16 Division I sports.
"I am getting pulled in a lot of directions, and that's been difficult," Dooley said. "Hopefully, once we get our structure in place, things will get a lot easier for me."
Holding both titles used to be fairly common. Among those who did includes Arkansas' Frank Broyles, Auburn's Pat Dye and Dooley's father, Vince, who was football coach and athletic director at Georgia from 1979-88. (He was Georgia's athletic director through 2004.)
But in an age of year-round recruiting and burgeoning budgets, doing both jobs has become a rarity. Watson Brown most recently did so at UAB from 2002-05, and Barry Alvarez held the two positions at Wisconsin from 2004-05, but most coaches wouldn't dream of adding to their already hefty workload.
Dooley was no different when Louisiana Tech president Dr. Daniel Reneau approached him about becoming AD.
"My initial reaction was, 'There's no way,'" Dooley said.
Concerned about maintaining his commitment to football, Dooley warmed to the idea after talking to athletic directors around the country as well as to his father.
"I know if in his heart he felt like it was the wrong thing to do, he would have told me that," Derek Dooley said. "He told me what I should need structurally to make it work. But he also reminded me how important it was not to neglect the team, because that's ultimately what I'm going to get measured on."
Tech went 5-7 in Dooley's first year. The coach displayed AD-type qualities off the field, raising more than $500,000 for facilities renovations just two months after being hired.
In his new role, he'll try to bridge a divided alumni base.
"There's an older crowd that's very prideful and had a lot of success during their time here at Tech," Dooley said. "And some of the younger alums have been not as involved as they should be. So the important thing is to get that connection with all of these groups."
Dooley cited budget management and sport inequities as two of the main challenges to the joint position, but he thinks he can strike a balance.
"When you're operating a $60 million budget in an athletic department, it's certainly a lot tougher situation than where we are," he said. "And the [other] coaches know I'm going to be an ambassador for them. It's certainly not all about football.
"It really could be a great situation to be a catalyst for our athletic program."
Adam Rittenberg covers college football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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