"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," Tennessee director of athletics Dave Hart said in Sunday's release. "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."
Derek Dooley is out, but who is in? Will the next head coach have time to dissect film of the high school players verbally committed to being Volunteers? When he does, will he see what the previous staff members did?
InsideTennessee heard from a majority of the 2013 class of commits. Here's a look at their thoughts on keeping those pledges and Dooley:
Zach Barnes (three-star DE): "Well I'm of course upset, but I'm still planning on attending the school. Hopefully the new head coach can see what Dooley saw in me."
Paul Harris (three-star WR): "It's sad that he got fired. I wish the best for him and his family. I pray they keep (Tennessee wide receivers) coach (Darin) Hinshaw and whoever the new coach is, I hope we can see things eye-to-eye and have a great bond. If not, me and my mom will have to do what's best for me."
Brett Kendrick (two-star OT): "I'm a UT guy as long as the new coach wants me, and I would like to stay with (Tennessee offensive line coach Sam) Pittman. So, I'm hoping that he stays with this new coach."
Jalen Reeves-Maybin (four-star OLB): "Still committed. Have to wait and get a feel for the new coaches."
Austin Sanders (three-star OT): "I'm fine. Still strong with UT no matter what! Sucks he is gone. I would've loved nothing more than to play for Dooley, but hope he has something good for him in the future. All recruits will stay strong. We will be alright. Brett, Smith and Reeves-Maybin will stay strong."
Joe Sanders (three-star DT): "I am committed to Tennessee but will keep my options open based on who the coach is."
Josh Smith (two-star WR): "I don't wanna look around, but if it comes to it, then maybe I have to. But, I'm still committed. A commitment is a commitment. I will only break that commitment if The Lord brings me to that point. But, I'm a Vol. Maybin and I talk about it a lot. We are Vol no matter what. We will turn UT around in our recruitment class. I liked Dooley a lot a lot! He was the one that recruited me, and I respect that to the max. I don't know what to think, I don't know enough. But, hopefully the next coach will honor the 2013 commitments. But, I'll just trust in God and see what happens. #VFL"
Cameron Sutton (three-star CB): "I am not sure how to react. (Tennessee cornerbacks) coach (Derrick) Ansley told me not to worry about it. I still won't decommit."
Corey Vereen (three-star DE): "Sir I'm still fully committed and I will be coming to Knoxville (to enroll) in January. I hate to see that happen to coach Dooley. However, I'm holding strong in my decision."
Dominic Zanca (three-star OLB): "We're just gonna take it one step at a time. I am committed to Tennessee but that doesn't mean other schools haven't been in contact. I'm just gonna slow play the situation and see where it takes me."
Watch as Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart addressed the media Sunday: