- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Until he hears otherwise, Derek Dooley said Monday that he's still Tennessee's head football coach.
The embattled Dooley, whose Vols have lost 13 of their last 14 SEC games, said he hasn't been told by anyone at Tennessee that he's going to be fired. He said he's spoken with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart since the Vols' 51-48 loss to Missouri in four overtimes and that Hart told him he hasn't made a decision.
"We talked very frankly about it," Dooley said. "He told me he had not made a decision, if we go 6-6, despite what all the reports are. Either the sources are wrong or Dave wasn't being forthright with me, and I have no reason to think Dave's not being forthright with me. He's an honest man. He's always been honest with me. I've appreciated how he's handled everything about this."
Several close to the program have stated that they don't see a scenario where Dooley returns next season as the Vols' coach. He's 4-18 against SEC foes in three seasons at Tennessee and 0-15 against nationally ranked teams.
The Vols travel to Vanderbilt this Saturday to take on the Commodores, who are already bowl eligible. Tennessee needs to win its next two against both Vanderbilt and Kentucky to qualify for a bowl.
Even if Hart had made his decision, it's doubtful he would make any announcement about Dooley's ouster with a bowl berth still on the line for this team.