Tennessee Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley leaves the field after losing to the Missouri Tigers 51-48 in quadruple overtime at Neyland Stadium. Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
According to WBIR contributor VolQuest.com, it is not a matter of if Tennessee will seek its fourth head football coach since 2008, but when.
This reports follows a 51-48 four-overtime loss to the Missouri Tigers inside Neyland Stadium Saturday. It was the Vols' seventh straight loss SEC loss
VolQuest.com's multiple sources said the decision to end Derek Dooley's three-year run as Vols head coach could be announced as early as Monday. Another scenario is to wait until the regular-season finale against Kentucky. If the Vols beat Kentucky and Vanderbilt, the team could potentially score the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Still according to several VolQuest.com sources, some influential people to the Tennessee program encourage looking for a new head coach sooner rather than later. Right now some SEC teams are seeking or are expected to begin looking for new coaches. Last week Kentucky fired its head coach Joker Phillips. John L. Smith is Arkansas' temporary coach. VolQuest.com is predicting that Auburn's head coach Gene Chizik could be on the way out for that program.
According to VolQuest.com, there are others who think making a change before the season is over, could jeopardize any chance of victory in the two games left this regular season. Tennessee will visit Vanderbilt this week and host Kentucky Nov. 24. In order to avert a fourth losing season in five years, Tennessee must win those two games and a bowl game.
After the tough loss against Mizzou on Saturday, Derek Dooley was asked how this loss may impact his future at UT, he did not know how to answer the question.
"I don't know. We're hurting because of the game and the kids. They played their tails off. There's a lot of negativity and that comes with the territory. I'm just proud of how they keep going out there, and they lay it on the line," said Dooley. "We just didn't make the plays that we needed to make at the end of the game. We started having to pressure it a little bit because the soft zone started grinding on us. Then with the pressure, we throw the ball up and we're all disoriented, and we don't make a play on the ball."
VolQuest.com reports several people believed Dooley could have returned for a fourth season at Tennessee if he had an undefeated November and earned a bowl bid. Still others said this scenario wouldn't necessarily save Dooley's coaching career at UT. According to VolQuest.com, nobody said Dooley could remain Vols head coach if Tennessee had at least a sixth loss in a season for the fifth year in a row.
VolQuest.com reports that University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart has declined to make any public comment about Dooley's future at Tennessee. Our contributor also said Hart will not discuss possible moves the program may make. Some sources have told VolQuest.com that the lack of clarity and building speculation could jeopardizing the struggling program even more.
The small attendance at some football games this year is adding to the mounting problems Dooley faces. Tennessee's homecoming game against Troy on Nov. 3 could be the worst-attended game at Neyland Stadium since 1988. Attendance announced 84,000 tickets were sold, but VolQuest.com reports the crowd was closer to 60,000. UT atheletic department lost seven figures in revenue for that game alone.
For the Mizzou game, Neyland Stadium attendance was again weak. On Saturday, Tennessee had less than 90,000 come into the stadium. Ticket sales were approximately 88,000 for that game, and students requested less than 4,000 tickets for the second week straight.
VolQuest.com said Dooley's departure will not be cheap. Originally Dooley's contract would have included a $4 million buyout at the end of his third season, according to our 10News contributor. This deal was extended one year, after Dooley and the Vols scored the Music City Bowl after his first season. At that time the buyout remained at $5 million. If a complete overhaul would happen, VolQuest.com said the university's athletic program could spend more than $7 million buying out coaches' contracts.
VolQuest.com said this number could be less if some assistants find jobs at other schools. Still Dooley and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney have guaranteed money coming their way even if they find other employment, according to our contributor.