Monday with Mike: Right place, right time?

Derek Dooley’s hiring at Tennessee was surprising, to say the least. He has a nice coaching pedigree – his dad won a national title at Georgia and Derek worked for Nick Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins – but his time at Louisiana Tech was a mixed bag.

Dooley guided Louisiana Tech to a bowl win in 2008, but the Bulldogs were 4-8 this season – the worst mark of his three-season tenure. He had losing records in two of his three years.

He now takes over a Tennessee program at the crossroads. The good news for Dooley and the Vols is that most of the SEC East is at a crossroads as well.

Florida has the most talent – by far – in the division. But will Urban Meyer’s leave of absence continue into next season? And if it does, what does that mean for the Gators in the future? In addition, Florida will have a new starting quarterback.

Georgia’s Mark Richt is squarely on the hot seat going into the 2010 season. He has overhauled his defensive staff, and will be breaking in a new quarterback for the second season in a row.

South Carolina has been stuck in neutral for much of Steve Spurrier’s coaching tenure. The Gamecocks generally look good early in the season, then fade. Another 7-5/6-6 season might mean Spurrier decides to hang it up for good.

Kentucky has a new coach in Joker Phillips. Can Phillips and a tweaked staff keep the Wildcats on the beam after a solid run by Rich Brooks?

As for Vanderbilt, if the Vols ever are scared of the Commodores, hell will have frozen over.