In the next 72 hours, critical work is required - both at home and on the road - to usher Tennessee football through a crisis.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton left town Wednesday afternoon and hopes to come home with a new head coach by the weekend.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, everybody else is closing ranks to bridge the gulf created by Lane Kiffin's surprising and untimely departure Tuesday night.
Leadership falls to Kippy Brown, whom Hamilton appointed interim head coach.
"You're putting out fires,'' Brown said Wednesday.
Brown, who is recently back for his third stint as an assistant coach at UT, is overseeing the existing roster, getting the mid-term enrollees integrated into the program and trying to keep the recruiting class from falling apart.
"It's not going to happen overnight where everybody gets massaged and feels good about the situation,'' Brown said.
Hamilton said Brown, who had previous tours at UT under Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, was the logical man to head the salvage operation, even though he is the newest addition to the staff.
"He is a fine, fine individual,'' Hamilton said. "I was not at the players meeting (Tuesday night) but the report I got was he did an absolutely phenomenal job in making sure these athletes knew what the situation was and being a calming influence.''
Hamilton also praised senior associate athletic director David Blackburn for being a stabilizing factor as the program goes through its second turbulent coaching transition in 15 months.
Brown said what remains of the staff decided to go ahead with a recruiting weekend. Recruits will begin arriving Friday.
UT's basketball coaches, Pat Summitt and Bruce Pearl, both volunteered to help with recruits.
Ideally Hamilton will be back from a whirlwind coaching search by then with a new face for the program.
"There's not going to be a 'message' until a head coach is in place,'' Brown said. "We're just managing this thing and making sure we're on schedule and guys are going to class and lifting weights.''
Hamilton would like to be a personal comfort to his student-athletes but he can't be two places at once. His biggest contribution is finding them a new coach - in a hurry and in the privacy of an out-of-town setting.
He met with the mid-term enrollees Wednesday morning and encouraged them to go to class and stay the course with UT.
"I really hit on the fact that this is not a fly-by-night operation,'' he said. "I'm in my 18th year, seven as AD.
"We've got people surrounding them that are stable and have been here a long time.''
Hamilton said he has the same qualities in mind for coaching candidates as when he conducted the search that produced Kiffin.
As for the secondary recruiting violations Kiffin leaves behind, Hamilton emphasized the program has "an NCAA review" in process as opposed to a full-scale investigation.
He doesn't see it as an obstacle for the next coach.
"Based on my knowledge of what's out there,'' he said, "they could come here and feel good about it.''