Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart has no doubt that Derek Dooley improved the Volunteers' football program after inheriting a tough situation three years ago.
But that improvement didn't show up in Tennessee's record, so Dooley no longer is the Vols' coach.
Dooley was fired Sunday after posting Tennessee's longest run of consecutive losing seasons in over a century. Dooley owned a 15-21 record that included an 0-15 mark against Top 25 teams. Dooley was 4-19 in Southeastern Conference competition and had lost 14 of his last 15 league games.
''This is a result-based profession,'' Hart said. ''You cannot ignore the results at the end of the day.''
The Vols' (4-7, 0-7 SEC) must beat Kentucky on Saturday to avoid going winless in SEC play for the first time in school history. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will serve as Tennessee's interim coach for the Kentucky game. Hart said Dooley turned down an opportunity to coach the season finale out of concern that it would affect the players' focus.
Tennessee's 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday guaranteed the Volunteers their third consecutive losing season, the first time they have finished below .500 in three straight years since 1909-11. Tennessee's loss to Vanderbilt marked only the second time in 30 years that the Vols had fallen to their in-state rival.
The Vols will fail to reach a bowl in back-to-back seasons for the first time since being left out four consecutive years from 1975-78.
''I am sorry we could not generate enough wins to create hope for a brighter future,'' Dooley said in a statement released by the university. ''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.''
Dooley's successor will become the Vols' fourth coach in a six-year stretch. Phillip Fulmer was fired in the midst of a 5-7 season in 2008 and ended his 17-year tenure with a 152-52 record. Lane Kiffin stayed for just one year before Southern California hired him away. Now Dooley is leaving after only three seasons.