NASHVILLE — Rocky top hit rock bottom.
Any lingering doubt about Derek Dooley’s future employment as the University of Tennessee football coach was probably put to rest after yet another embarrassing Southeastern Conference loss Saturday night.
With Dooley fighting for his job, and the Volunteers needing to win their final two games to become bowl-eligible, Vanderbilt soundly whipped Tennessee 41-18. The only question remaining is when UT athletic director Dave Hart will announce Dooley’s firing.
It was the Vols’ first loss to the Commodores in Nashville since 1982 and was their most lopsided defeat in the series since a 26-0 loss in 1954.
After leading 7-3 early in the second quarter, the Vols committed three turnovers in four possessions, allowing Vanderbilt to score 17 points and begin taking control. As Tennessee’s offense became progressively more stagnant — quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Justin Worley combined for three interceptions — the defense continued to allow points and yards at a historically bad rate. The only goal left is to avoid the program’s first eight-loss season.
It is the first time in program history that the Vols will suffer three consecutive losing seasons. With just one game remaining, against Kentucky at home next week, Dooley is assured of owning the worst three-year conference stretch in UT football history. He has a 4-19 record in SEC games.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...