Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley said he talked to athletic director Dave Hart last Sunday, one day after UT's close loss at South Carolina dropped the Vols (3-5) to 0-5 in the SEC.
"I hadn't talked to him after the game. We usually talk on Mondays. He wanted to make sure that I understood that he wasn't going to be in Monday," Dooley said. "We had our normal conversation about the game and what lies ahead."
In the same interview Wednesday night on Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone, Dooley was asked directly whether he expected to keep his job if the Vols win the final four games of the regular season.
"I really do not think about that," Dooley said. "And I mean that. Any of that stuff is beyond my control. All that's going to do is bring a lot of anxiety to me, the team, all that, which is unnecessary. It's so important that we just maintain our focus on what's next and go 1-0, and that's what we're trying to do here."
If this week is like the previous two, coaches won't decide until just before kickoff whether running back Rajion Neal will return to action.
Neal has been nursing an ankle injury suffered Oct. 13 at Mississippi State.
The Vols play Troy (4-4) on Saturday (TV: FSTN, noon) at Neyland Stadium.
"He's doing a better job of practicing fast and getting more and more reps in practice," said running backs coach Jay Graham.
Neal said his ankle is unlikely to return to 100 percent until the end of the season, and Graham said he needs to get accustomed to that new reality.
"For running backs, you're going to get your ankles twisted up, you're going to get guys driving all over the place," Graham said. "You have to get used to getting it out of your mind and adjusting to how it feels, because it is going to take a while to feel 100 percent."
Eight players — six wide receivers, a tight end and a running back — caught passes for Tennessee against South Carolina.
That's the kind of box score that receivers coach Darin Hinshaw enjoys seeing.
"The whole receiving corps got involved," Hinshaw said. "That's why you have to work hard in practice. You never know when you're number is going to get called. Vincent Dallas had a touchdown. Zach Rogers played probably one of his best games he's ever played. There were a couple situations in the game where we could've made some plays that would've been big. We just have to continue to work on the detail of our routes and keep working on making plays."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.