Survey the college football landscape and take a long look at a few assistant coaches, and you quickly come to realize something: Their lives are shaped by extreme pros and cons.
Their jobs comes with prestige and respect. They wear free gear. They make hundreds of connections and visit places most average Joes only see on television.
But there are drawbacks. Oh, the drawbacks.
Their jobs also come with 70-hour work weeks, diminished family time and a lot of lonely nights in one-horse towns, chasing recruits and eating greaseball burgers.
One other thing: Job security comes about as often as Halley’s comet.
That’s why Eric Dooley knew he’d been blessed. He spent 14 years in one spot, as a beloved assistant coach at Southern — the first 13 under Pete Richardson, followed by last season under Stump Mitchell.
He is a New Orleans native, a man who takes pride in balancing football, family and religion, along with a penchant for snappy attire.
In Baton Rouge, Dooley had found a home. The roots ran deep.
So when Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman called last spring with an offer to become offensive coordinator, Dooley had to take a long look at the pros and cons. Ultimately, Dooley said yes, moving himself, his wife and two daughters to Arkansas.
So far, so good. Dooley and UAPB host the Jaguars at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“This was something me and my family prayed on,” Dooley said. “It didn’t mean it was going to be easy. But as time goes on, it hasn’t been a huge deal. I think we’ve all adjusted pretty well. It’s been a good ride.”
This is his first turn as a college offensive coordinator, and like any new experience in life, it has involved a little on-the-job learning.
In the season opener against Langston, the Golden Lions had 11 possessions in enemy territory — but they doomed themselves with five turnovers in an embarrassing 19-12 loss.
Hiccups aside, Dooley has settled into his new role. It hasn’t been as hectic as he feared.
For so many years, Dooley sat in the press box at A.W. Mumford Stadium communicating with then-coordinator Mark Orlando.
“You never know until you do it,” he said. “But I can’t stop thanking coach Richardson and coach Orlando. To me, learning is an everyday thing, and I learned a lot with those guys. And I learned from coach Mitchell, too.”
Six games into this season, the Lions offense is starting to take shape, ranking fourth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and UAPB is tied with Southern for second place in the Western Division.
Just as the Jaguars have faltered in the second half lately, the Lions struggled in back-to-back losses.
Still, Dooley likes his new team. And he likes his new job. Sometimes, change is good.
“It’s been a blessing for me,” Dooley said. “That’s one thing I can say.”