Charlie Coiner's cellphone buzzed early Wednesday morning. Other coaches reported the same.
The man sending the texts was Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, only hours removed from surgery to repair a hip fracture but still fervently interested in the rest of the week's practice plans.
"You don't want to know how early it was," said Coiner, Tennessee's special teams coach.
Dooley missed Wednesday's practice but said he would be back on the field this morning. Even without Dooley, assistant coaches said Wednesday's practice was crisp, efficient and still heavily influenced by their absent head coach.
The Vols (3-2, 0-2 SEC) play No. 19 Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 9 p.m.) at Davis Wade Stadium. Dooley said he plans to guide the team from the press box. There will be no major administrative changes, as Dooley will issue directives via headset.
"The one thing that was important to me that I don't disrupt anybody's gameday duties," Dooley said Wednesday night during a short call-in appearance on Vol Calls. "I'm on the headsets with everybody whether I'm on the field or in the box ... Nothing's going to get disrupted other than my ability to look players in the eye."
The portion of Wednesday's practice open to the media appeared no different without Dooley present.
"Coach Dooley has things squared away the way he wants to do things," said defensive line coach John Palermo. "Practice was run just like he was there. He gave us the practice plan, so we did it exactly like he wanted us to."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and safeties coach Josh Conklin typically work from the coaches' booth. That won't change on Saturday. The only difference, Chaney joked, is that the boss will be quite literally looking over his shoulder.
"I talked to Derek on headsets. Now he'll be sitting beside me," Chaney said. "I don't anticipate any difference, quite honestly, when it comes to game day."
Chaney said play-calling happens so quickly in the Vols' fast-paced offense that he doesn't typically have time to talk with Dooley between plays. Most of their conversations take place before or after an offensive series. He doesn't expect that to change.
"I don't see where he's at having any effect on that at all," Chaney said.
Palermo has the most relevant experience on Tennessee's staff. In 1999, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez underwent knee surgery that caused him to miss one game and work from the press box in eight others. Palermo, then the assistant head coach, was the interim head coach in Alvarez's absence and helped direct the team on the field.
He has no desire to reprise the role.
"I don't want anything to do with it," Palermo said. "I just want to be me. That's all."
Dooley had been experiencing hip pain for the past two months and an MRI on Friday showed a hip fracture, Tennessee said. Doctors advised immediate surgery.
The procedure was performed Tuesday afternoon by Dr. Russell Betcher and Dr. Greg Mathien of Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic at UT Medical Center. Betcher, coincidentally, is a former Mississippi State football player.
Dooley hopes to return to a normal schedule next week, pending approval by his doctors.
In the meantime, coaches say, everything is under control.
"Everybody wants Coach Dooley out there, but because of the seriousness of that hip he had to get it done," said defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. "The kids were energetic, they were enthusiastic and they practiced like they were supposed to. They stayed to the standard of the practice."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.