Sept. 10, 2011 was the high point of Dooley's head coaching career at Tennessee. His Vols trounced visiting Cincinnati 45-23, improving his Big Orange record to 8-7. He appeared to be a rising star in the coaching ranks.
Conversely, Sept. 10, 2011 was the low point of Jones' head coaching career at Cincinnati. That 45-23 loss to the Vols dropped his record with the Bearcats to 5-9. He appeared to be a flame-out in the coaching ranks.
Appearances can be deceiving, however, as that fateful afternoon proved to be a turning point for each coach. Jones got his act together, going 18-5 with the Bearcats through the end of the 2012 regular season. Dooley, meanwhile, saw his career unravel, going 8-14 with the Vols through the end of the 2012 regular season.
Then, in the ultimate irony, the victim of Dooley's career highlight replaced him as Tennessee's head coach on Friday. Introduced at an afternoon news conference, Jones had little to say about his previous stop in Knoxville except to note that Neyland Stadium is "the greatest venue in all of college football, and obviously when we came here last year that just solidified everything. What a great home-field advantage."
For history buffs, here's a time-line providing a game-by-game recap of how Dooley's freefall and Jones' steady climb unfolded following their fateful meeting on Sept. 10, 2011:
Sept. 22: Jones' Bearcats dumped North Carolina State 44-14 in a Thursday night game. Dooley's Vols were idle that week.
Oct. 8: Dooley's Vols lost 20-12 at home to Georgia. Jones' Bearcats were idle.
Oct. 29: Dooley's Vols suffered a fourth consecutive loss, 14-3 versus South Carolina. Jones' Bearcats were idle.
Dec. 3: Jones' Bearcats beat Connecticut 35-27. Dooley's Vols were idle.
Dec. 31: Jones' Bearcats beat Vanderbilt 31-24 in the Music City Bowl to cap a 10-3 season. Dooley's Vols did not qualify for a bowl due to a 5-7 record.
Aug. 31: Dooley's Vols dumped North Carolina State 35-21 to briefly energize the fan base. Jones' Bearcats were idle.
Sept. 6: Jones' Bearcats drubbed Pittsburgh 34-10 in a Thursday night game. Two days later, Dooley's Vols thumped Georgia State 51-13.
Sept. 15: Jones' Bearcats beat Delaware State 23-7, while Dooley's Vols squandered a halftime lead and lost 37-20 at home to Florida.
Sept. 22: Dooley's Vols pulled away late and beat Akron 47-26. Jones' Bearcats were idle.
Sept. 29: Jones' Bearcats beat Virginia Tech 27-24, while Dooley's Vols lost 51-44 at Georgia.
Oct. 6: Jones' Bearcats drubbed Miami of Ohio 52-14. Dooley's Vols were idle.
Oct. 20: Jones' Bearcats lost 29-23 at Toledo, while Dooley's Vols were blasted 44-13 by Alabama.
Oct. 26: Jones' Bearcats suffered a 34-31 overtime loss at Louisville in a Friday night game. The next day Dooley's Vols lost 38-35 at South Carolina.
Nov. 3: Jones' Bearcats beat Syracuse 35-24, while Dooley's Vols outlasted Troy 55-48.
Nov. 17: Jones' Bearcats lost 10-3 to Rutgers, while Dooley's Vols fell 41-18 at Vanderbilt.
Nov. 23: Jones' Bearcats beat South Florida 27-10 in a Friday night game. One day later the Vols trounced Kentucky 37-17 with Jim Chaney serving as interim head coach.
Dec. 1: Jones' Bearcats won 34-17 at Connecticut to conclude a 9-3 regular season. The Vols already wrapped up a second consecutive 5-7 season.