- Associated Press - Monday, October 25, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Tennessee coach Derek Dooley on Monday compared his young, inexperienced team’s struggles to that of the German forces during the Allies’ invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Dooley spent two minutes during his weekly media appearance describing the confusion caused by the surprise landing of the Americans at Omaha Beach on D-Day and the Germans’ slow reaction in the absence of their leader, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

“Right now we’re like the Germans in World War II,” Dooley said. “Here comes the boats, they’re coming. You have the binoculars, and it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, the invasion is coming.’”

Tennessee (2-5, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) is playing with a depleted lineup because of injuries and attrition from back-to-back coaching turnovers. The Vols have lost three straight games.

Dooley compared Tennessee’s inability to handle difficult game situations to how the Germans handled the D-Day invasion.

“I don’t want the German people to get upset at me,” he said. “I’m not attacking them, but that’s what happened. You had one group, they weren’t worried about what the plan was and orders and all that. When the war hits, things change. You’ve got to go.

“You had the other group, and they go, ‘Wait a minute, they told us the invasion was way further north,’ where we had the empty tanks and we were hiding Patton out. ‘We weren’t ready for this, now what do we do?’ ‘We better wait until Rommel tells us what to do.’”

Dooley may not have intended to anger anyone, but comparisons drawn between sports and military battles or disasters usually offends someone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow was criticized in 2003 as a college player at Miami when he compared football to war and himself to a soldier trying to kill his opponent. North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams was also criticized in February for telling a clumsy anecdote that was interpreted as comparing the Tar Heels’ struggles to the Haiti earthquake disaster.

A Tennessee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

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