With Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley on a plane to Knoxville to become Tennessee's head coach, the first inclination from the rest of the SEC will be that the 41 year old will get eaten alive. But unlike Lane Kiffin (who, to be honest, I also tried not to underestimate), Dooley has worked the coaching ladder. Not only does he come from Gator-hating stock (father Vince of Athens, Georgia), but he was also a part of Nick Saban's staff at LSU and with the Dolphins. Dooley isn't exactly walking into this blind.
Tennessee fans may regret not getting a big time guy or their first choice, but they needed someone who is as much about administrative duties as coaching. It will take at least another season or two before Tennessee as the horses to compete with Florida and Georgia in the East. Dooley has to complete what Kiffin started; making sure UT is back in the minds of impressionable high school players. Even if UT is competing for the Chick-fil-A Bowl every season, Dooley will have to travel like a mad man to overcome the stench left by Kiffin's exit. Dooley also has to build up the infrastructure around Tennessee football. This is not roads and bridges, but coaches who you can build a program around, not ones that will jump at the next best job.
Dooley's record at Louisiana Tech is not fantastic, but that is not the point. Tennessee's move was not to appoint a caretaker, at least I don't think so. They needed someone who was willing to stay for the long haul, but who can be cut without much of a financial penalty. They got that in Dooley, but they also got his pedigree and administrative experience.