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By LARRY VAUGHT
Has Tennessee coach Derek Dooley been fired? And if he has, what impact, if any, will that have on Kentucky’s coaching search, especially when it comes to Bobby Petrino?
Several sources were reporting Sunday that Dooley, who is 4-18 play since taking over the Vols in 2010 after Lane Kiffin left, has been fired following Saturday’s overtime loss to Missouri dropped Tennessee to 4-6 overall and 0-6 in SEC play with games left against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. And remember, he did lose to UK last year.
And what about Auburn coach Gene Chizik. His team is 2-8 overall and 0-7 in SEC play after a 35-0 loss to No. 5 Georgia. He would be owed a $7.5 million buyout as of Dec. 1 if he gets fired as many Auburn fans seem to hope he will be.
“I think you got to look under the hood of the car and you’ve got to figure out where the problems are under the hood and that’s going to become a very extensive evaluation starting with a lot of different areas,”Chizik told The Associated Press. “I think that from there you can make very informed decisions on where you need to go with the next season and starting in January.”
Of course, Joker Phillips was saying the same things at Kentucky before he was fired with a 1-9 mark and 0-7 SEC slate.
Tennessee could go after Petrino. So could Auburn.
Several more sources confirmed Sunday that UK indeed has a major interest in Petrino, the former Louisville and Arkansas coach who has a winning, productive offense that impress many as well as plenty of questions about his character that scare some.
However, it seems clear that if UK wants Petrino to revive its program, the timetable for doing so is now with the possibility that Dooley has been fired and Chizik might be.