Legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley said his son's firing was painful, but he understands why it happened.
"I knew it was going to happen," Dooley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I felt for sure it was going to happen. Then on Sunday when he contacted us and told us, it was difficult. You hurt for your family. You hurt for your son."
Derek Dooley was dismissed Sunday after three seasons at Tennessee and athletic director Dave Hart is leading the search for his replacement.
"I knew the situation," Vince Dooley said. "They came very close in some big ballgames that unfortunately they didn't win. I know Dave Hart personally. He anguished over this. But in light of the situation I understand the decision."
Vince Dooley said his son decided not to coach the final game to give the team the best chance of winning.
"Derek said he requested that because he felt he would be distraction," Dooley said. "He said all of the speculation about his job was a distraction before the Vanderbilt game and he felt that hurt the team, so he didn't want that to happen again. Once he said that, I admired his decision. I felt it was important to get that out because it's not like they didn't want him around."
Tennessee interim head coach Jim Chaney said the Vols were still a bit lethargic in practice Tuesday, two days after Dooley's dismissal.
"I can't say the execution on the field today was the way you'd like it," Chaney said. "We were a little sluggish at times. But it was better than yesterday and hopefully it will be better (Wednesday). Hopefully we'll build on that as we crescendo into the ballgame."
Tennessee (4-7, 0-7 SEC) plays Kentucky (2-9, 0-7) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.) in a battle of winless SEC teams who have already fired their coaches.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is finishing the season after his firing was announced on Nov. 4.
"They're an SEC football team, so they have SEC talent," Chaney said of Kentucky. "Our focus is on Tennessee to get our minds right and go out the way we're capable of playing.
Chaney said he would defer to Hart on how to handle Senior Day activities on Saturday without Dooley present.
"I'm sure whatever Mr. Hart wants us to do, I'll be glad to do," Chaney said. "I've known these kids for a long time, and I'll gladly respect them in any way I can."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.