Today Paul Finebaum announced that Barbara Dooley, the most popular woman in the state of Tennessee sports who isn’t named Pat Summitt, is not allowed to go on his radio show any longer. Barbara, who happens to be the wife of Georgia Hall of Fame coach Vince, once answered the door for her husband wearing nothing at all. “Play me or trade me, Coach,” she said. Seriously, how could you not love this woman?
Her Finebaum prohibition comes courtesy of her son Derek, the head football coach at the University of Tennessee, who informed his mother that her regular appearances on the radio were hurting recruiting.
Reached by OKTC today, Barbara Dooley confirmed that she’d been yanked off the airwaves. Aghast at the injustice, I told her that anyone who wasn’t coming to Tennessee because of her radio appearances was a recruit the Vols didn’t need. Barbara laughed anew. She’d previously been banned from regular appearances on airwaves in the state of Tennessee, which meant we could only schedule her occasionally. Yet every time she appeared with us, she was appointment radio.
Let me put this as clearly as possible — the world needs more Barbara Dooley on the radio, not less.
“He doesn’t like that I don’t have a filter,” she said when I told her my opinion.
So let me clear on this: Barbara Dooley is the single greatest guest in the history of our radio show here in Nashville. Every time she’s been on with us the airwaves have lit up afterwords. It doesn’t matter who people root for in the SEC, they absolutely love Barbara Dooley. Alabama fans, Auburn fans, Florida fans, all of them call in to the show heaping praise after her guest spots. They call her what she is, a Southern treasure.
Why? She’s funny, opinionated, outspoken and sounds exactly like the hysterical Southern aunt that every family has. Barbara Dooley is the kind of fan many would kill to sit next to at games. Win or lose, she makes the experience better. But, and this is key, she might say anything at any moment. It will be funny, but it might be a bit controversial. And these days coaches run from any controversy as fast as they can. Which is why Derek, the son she told us she nicknamed Precious — asked why she responded, “Well, have you seen him, he’s just Precious! — has finally implemented the final piece of his Mom media policy.
Namely, Mom doesn’t talk to the media.
Which is a shame because last season Mom, ever the fan, told us that back in Derek’s college days at Virginia she had bumper stickers printed up that she mailed to Dooley’s roommate, the starting quarterback. Barbara believed her son, a tight end who played sparingly, deserved more minutes and attention. What did the bumper stickers say?
“Throw the ball to Precious.”
Tomorrow I’m mailing Derek Dooley my own bumper stickers — “Don’t muzzle Barbara.”
This past February in front of over a thousand Vol fans I requested that Derek allow her to appear weekly on our radio show. Derek doesn’t like dealing with this media; his mother thrives on it. So why, I asked, couldn’t he just outsource his media obligations to his mother? We wouldn’t ask him to be on the radio, but we’d get her instead. He deftly sidestepped the issue.
At the time son had already banned Mom from appearing on radio stations in the state of Tennessee. Of course Derek told our 3 Hour Lunch radio show that his mother wasn’t abiding by the media policy he’d put in place for her last year. “She’s violated the media policy and she doesn’t give a damn what I say,” he said. This season Derek, whose Vols should be much improved, is focused on reigning in his loquacious mother.
And the world is worse for it.
Despite the coming prohibition Barbara has agreed to join us tomorrow for one final visit before the season starts.
I’m already excited about the visit. And yet again, I renew my humble request to Derek Dooley, esquire.
Let the Big Momma talk. We need her. Derek Dooley, who is actually the funniest SEC coach by far, feels the need to muzzle himself. We haven’t gotten as many answers as brilliant as this one when I asked him about whether or not his hair moved and he turned it into a metaphor for his team’s playing style: “Some people are worried about what offense we’re gonna run, other people’s worrying about how multiple we are on defense. You guys are worried about my hair. I will say this: I’ve had the same haircut since I was 12 years old. OK, so do the math. That’s 30 years of the exact same haircut. At some point your hair finally concedes and says, ‘I’m gonna just do what the heck you want me to do, and I’m not gonna fight it anymore.’ And so everybody has their hair fighting them all the time because they don’t train it and do it consistently over time, all right? It’s no different than training a team. You do it over, and you do it over, and you do it over, and you don’t deviate from the plan, and you bring it across and you shape it down, and then eventually they do it how you want it. And then once my hair said, ‘OK, I’ll do it how you want it,’ I haven’t changed. Why change?”
Asked whether his mother’s hair is the same way, Derek responded:
“Yeah, but she changes her hair every day and can’t understand why it doesn’t cooperate. Well, if I changed offenses every day, we wouldn’t be good at anything.”
Something about being an SEC coach eventually kills your public sense of humor. But it doesn’t have to kill your mom’s too.
Derek, the South begs you, free Momma Dooley.