My mom and Coach’s wife Barbara were pregnant at the same time and went to the same doctor.
I never knew any of the Dooley kids as my dad then graduated and left Auburn.
I first met Derek Dooley while covering Louisiana Tech at the 2008 Independence Bowl and I was excited to see him move up to Rocky Top, Tennessee.
The Volunteers went 6-7 in his first season after Tennessee lost in the Music City Bowl.
Tennessee could have finished 8-5 if the end of the games against LSU and North Carolina had worked in their favor.
The Vols celebrated at the end of the LSU game, only to retake the field because the Vols had 13 men on defense. They then allowed the Tigers to score a game-winning touchdown on the last play.
In the Music City Bowl against North Carolina, the Tar Heels were allowed to stop the clock on a spike with one second left despite having 12 men on the field. The blown call by the officials resulted in a game-tying field goal. UNC won it overtime.
Tennessee could finish in fourth place behind South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in the SEC East or maybe in third place if either the Bulldogs or Gators stumble. But another six-win season is also very possible.
Quarterback Tyler Bray took over at quarterback in the ninth game last year, guided the Vols to a 4-1 record, and set a school record for a freshman with 1,849 yards.
The Vols running game was last in the SEC in 2010 and Tauren Poole, the only senior starter on offense, returns after rushing for 1,034 yards.
Justin Hunter (25.9 yards per catch on 16 receptions, seven for touchdowns) and the speedy Da’Rick Rogers will be the main catching threats for the Vols.
The offensive line will be lead by senior left tackle Dallas Thomas and freshman All-American James Stone.
For the Volunteers to be in the hunt for the SEC East title, the defense has to play better in 2011.
Montori Hughes (6-4, 327), Malik Jackson (transfer from USC), tackle Marlon Walls, Daniel Hood and Willie Bohannon will be expected to step up for the UT defense.
The defense will be anchored by linebackers Austin Johnson, Herman Lathers and Greg King, all coming off serious injuries.
All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson, Brent Brewer, Marsalis Teague and Prentiss Waggner will be the strength of the defense in the secondary.
Tennessee opens the season at home against Montana (7-4) and Cincinnati (4-8) before a road trip for the SEC opener at Florida (8-5).
After home games against Buffalo (2-10), Georgia (6-7) and LSU (11-2), Tennessee will be sitting at .500.
The Vols then travel to Alabama (10-3) before entertaining SEC East champion South Carolina (9-5) and Middle Tennessee State (6-7).
Tennessee closes the regular season with road games to Arkansas (10-3) and Kentucky (6-7) with a home game against Vanderbilt (2-10) sandwiched in between.