There were coaching searches way back in the “Dark Ages” of Tennessee football, and as is the case today, the search always seems to be directed at the “best and the brightest,” the search always described as “national.”
Everybody has an opinion, much the way it is these days.
That was the case in the waning days of 1925 and into 1926, when Dean Nathan Washington Dougherty had to find a football coach. He had the one he wanted on campus, a fellow named Bob Neyland, but school president Harcourt A. Morgan wanted Dougherty to get “the best coach in the country.”
School presidents always want that, but rarely get it.
Anyway, Neyland was, in fact, Dougherty’s choice.
The local newspapers of that day helped out, “immeasurably,” by staking out positions on who the new coach should be.
Tennessee historians James Riley Montgomery, Stanley J. Folmsbee, and Lee Greene wrote that, “while Dougherty had a single candidate in mind, the papers made it appear there were several.”
History tells us that Neyland got the job, “with significant results for the university.”
There was none of the modern technology extant in those days, so Dougherty could get away with running things out of his shirt pocket. He probably didn’t have a great many media conferences, nor was there a steady procession of media into and out of his office. He might not have needed a guard at his door during the process.
Things were a great deal different back then.
Things must have turned out pretty well for both men. Buildings on campus Dougherty Hall and Neyland Stadium stand in their honor and memory.
Would the Dougherty approach to hiring a coach work today?
It’s doubtful, but we can only hope that whoever makes and gets the call will be remembered and revered in the future years the way Dougherty and Neyland are today.
It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015