UPDATED 11:28 a.m. ET: And it’s officially official.
In a press release, Tennessee confirmed myriad earlier reports that Derek Dooley will not return as the Vols’ head football coach. Dooley has also coached his last game as well as offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will serve as the interim head coach in the final game against Kentucky.
“I am sorry we could not generate enough wins to create hope for a brighter future,” said Dooley in a statement. “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.
“During the last 34 months, I’ve given my all for Tennessee, and our family appreciates all this University and the Knoxville community has given us.”
Athletic director Dave Hart will conduct a 2 p.m. ET press conference Sunday to address his decision and discuss in which direction the football program will head.
“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,” Hart said in his statement. “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. We will immediately begin the search for the best possible candidate to assume this leadership role.”
ORIGINAL POST 11:18 a.m. ET: It’s all but officially buh-bye to Coach Orange Pants.
On the hot seat throughout most of 2011 and deep into 2012, Derek Dooley‘s was seen by most observers as having irreparably damaged his chances of returning as Tennessee’s head coach with a blowout loss to in-state rival Vanderbilt Saturday. If one report comes to fruition, the end will officially come in just a couple of hours.
According to Knoxville radio personality Jimmy Hyams, Dooley has indeed been fired as the Vols’ coach after three seasons. Per Hyams, athletic director Dave Hart will conduct a press conference at 2 p.m. ET Sunday to announce the dismissal, and Dooley will not be in attendance.
VolQuest.com reports that, at Dooley’s request, he will not coach UT’s regular-season finale against Kentucky this Saturday.
The school has yet to address the reports of Dooley’s status for the the UK game and beyond.
In his three seasons with the Vols, Dooley has compiled a 15-21 overall record. Most damaging to Dooley’s coaching prospects has been his record in conference play. The Vols are just 4-19 in the SEC under Dooley, having lost their last eight league games and 14 of the last 15.