Derek Dooley Reportedly Fired Following Another Tennessee Volunteers Loss

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Derek Dooley Reportedly Fired Following Another Tennessee Volunteers Loss

Those who hate University of Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley's bright orange pants won't have to suffer any longer. After Tennessee's loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, the university cut ties with Dooley, effective immediately. 

UPDATE: Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2:15 p.m. ET by Matt Fitzgerald

Volunteers beat writer Evan Woodbery of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports the comments Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart made Sunday in light of Dooley's recent firing:

 

 

In the highly competitive SEC, Dooley simply didn't get the job done.

--End of Update---

 

Jimmy Hyams of WNML has the latest:

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will assume head coaching duties on an interim basis. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

Dooley released this statement following his dismissal, per Tennessee's official press release on the personnel change:

I am sorry we could not generate enough wins to create hope for a brighter future. Although progress was not reflected in our record, I am proud of the strides we made to strengthen the foundation for future success in all areas of the program.

Athletic director Dave Hart, one of the key cogs behind the move, had this to say:

We very much appreciate the effort and energy that Derek Dooley and his staff have poured into our football program at the University of Tennessee. Derek and I met early this morning, and I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football.

The move comes as little surprise to Volunteer fans, who've suffered three years under Dooley after the departure of Lane Kiffin in 2010.

Speculation is already running wild that Jon Gruden is a potential replacement for Dooley. Gruden was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1986-87.

Tennessee has just four conference wins in three seasons under Dooley and an embarrassing 0-15 mark in games against ranked opponents since 2010. The team hasn't been to a bowl game since Dooley's first season in Knoxville, when the Vols lost to North Carolina in double overtime in the Music City Bowl.

Dooley will finish his Tennessee coaching career with a 15-21 record over almost three seasons.

The student body has been calling for his dismissal for quite some time. Several weeks ago, before Nick Saban (who Dooley worked with at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins) and No. 1 Alabama came to town, the student body showed its distaste with the head football coach on the famous Tennessee Rock.

Photo credit: Diehardsport.com

The Rock showed Dooley's poor conference record with "Fire Fooley" being the most notable wordplay. It also had other numerous insults about the team's lack of success since Kiffin and Phil Fulmer were manning the sidelines.

Other forms of protest had emerged in the wake of Tennessee's on-field struggles. A Fire Derek Dooley Facebook page is in full swing on the site, though supporters now have reason to end the campaign.

Tennessee made Dooley one of the highest-paid men in college football upon his hiring in 2010. His $2.29 million total salary makes him the 20th-highest-paid coach in the country, but the results haven't matched that kind of commitment.

With talented skill players like Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter, fans felt Dooley had no excuse for losing tight SEC games. In his defense, many of his 23 SEC contests have been against elite, ranked programs, but apparently that wasn't enough to appease Volunteers everywhere anymore.

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Dooley started his career as an assistant at the University of Georgia, where his father was a longtime coach. He then spent time with SMU, LSU and the Miami Dolphins before landing his first head coaching position at Louisiana Tech.

After being named athletic director and taking the Bulldogs to the Independence Bowl in 2008, Dooley was hired by Tennessee as its new head coach following the messy departure of Kiffin.

There's no doubt teams will come calling for Dooley to fill other vacant coaching positions around the country, but for now he joins the unemployment line.

It will be interesting to see the direction this team opts for going forward. In the SEC recruiting belt, with a top-tier QB like Bray, it shouldn't take long for Tennessee to be a viable place to win football games.

It's unlikely the Vols start rebuilding this thing from the ground up, so it would make sense to hire a candidate with a big pedigree. Keep an eye on Gruden, as well as other big-time names, as they become available over the final few weeks of the college football season.

 

Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for the Dallas Mavericks and Breaking News Team writer for Bleacher Report.

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