Don’t mess with Mama’s baby boy.
That was the basic message Barbara Dooley delivered to Knoxville sportswriters Andrew Gribble and Dave Hooker and radio listeners who were tuning into “Newsmakers with Tim Bryant” on Athens station WGAU-AM 1340 Thursday morning.
Gribble and Hooker both cover the Tennessee Volunteers, who are coached by the youngest son of Barbara and Vince Dooley, Derek Dooley.
“At some point, one or the other speculates on Derek Dooley and the temperature of the seat beneath him,” Bryant told the AJC afterward. “Turns out Barbara Dooley was listening, and she lives right around the corner.”
So Barbara, who has her own show at the station (owned by Cox Media Group), drove in to give the writers her two cents worth. “She just about kicked the door in,” Bryant said.
Following is the exchange:
Barbara: “I want to ask you guys something. Back when I was in coaching with my husband, the press was our best friends. Now all y’all want to do is beat the coaches to hell and back.”
Hooker: “That’s not me, that’s Andrew.”[laughter]
Barbara: “I want you to listen about my baby.”
Bryant: “You have to hurry because we’ve got a congressman standing by.”
Barbara: “Well, he can just wait. Football is important. [more laughter] Let me say this: Derek Dooley walked into kind of a mess. Florida, [coach Will Muschamp] walks into talent just oozing out of their ears. Jimbo Fisher walks into FSU with talent. And y’all are telling me that Derek Dooley is on the damn hot seat? Are you crazy?”
Bryant: “Did anybody say the word hot seat?”
Barbara: “Yeah, I heard them!”
Hooker: “I didn’t say that.”
Barbara: “Oh, come on, get out of here! You’ve got Mama’s rile up now, buddy. Did you know [Derek] played 17 freshman against Florida?”
Barbara: “I just want you to be nice and fair and know that you probably have the best coach in the country and he’s going to be there 25 years.”
Bryant: “And they’ll probably name the stadium after him. Guys, thanks for joining us. Andrew Gribble, Dave Hooker and Barbara Dooley. Like I said, we’ve got a congressman [Tom Graves] standing by and he’s had to listen to all this.”
UPDATE: Here’s an explanation from Andrew Gribble of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, who admits to saying “hot seat” but not in the context Barbara Dooley took it.