A lot of things have changed in Knoxville over the last 72 hours, but for the Tennessee players they are getting a serious lesson in the hard-and-fast business that is college football.
"I anticipated it," offensive lineman Antonio Richardson told reporters. "I am not going to lie. I was ready for it. I prepped my mind for it. The thing is I came in knowing that it was going to be a business. My father warned me that it was going to be a business.
"Coaches, they come and go. That is just what it is. This is a business. I love coach Dooley. He has done a lot for me personally in my growth as a man and a player. I appreciate everything he has done for me during these last two years, but like I said this is a business and we just have to move forward."
However tough it may be, Chaney is hoping to get things back to business as usual in time to get a win in the Vols final game of the 2012 season against eastern division opponent Kentucky, who got their first win over the Vols in nearly 30 years in 2011.
"I thought the practice — the kids handled it well," Chaney said. "They went out and ran around. We used the same format that we have been doing so they knew what they were doing. I think early on in the meetings they were quiet and it was sober in the meetings, but we talked a lot to the team today and hopefully we will get them going as the week progresses."
|Athletics director Dave Hart met with Derek Dooley early Sunday morning to give him the news that he would no longer be Tennessee's head football coach.|
And while Chaney doesn't consider Saturday's game to be an audition to further his career in coaching, it will be a new experience. While Chaney has never been a head coach he has called plays from the sidelines before, which he will do again this Saturday.
"I have been around football a long time," he said. "I think I understand the role, but until you do it you have no idea. I have no idea what a head coach does. I have never done it before, but I am excited and I hope I don't mess it up too bad. I hope I represent coach Dooley really well Saturday.
"I am going to go down on the field. I am going to call the game from the field, which I have done in my past. I am going to lean on my assistants a lot to help me and hopefully everything will go well. It is a little bit different setting, but at the end of the day you are calling plays. I don't see any issues with that."
Sunday's transition may have caused the collective Tennessee fan base to wipe their hands of Derek Dooley and his time at Tennessee, but for the people inside the facility it is hard to separate the coaching from the friendship.
"That is difficult to do," Chaney said. "Everyone wants to do that. You can't do that. The personal end of this job, what we do, is so personal. We live and die this job. I believe in Derek Dooley and I stuck with him as long as I could. I would be with him all the time. He is a good man and a good football coach. That will never change."
And with the program in limbo, many players are left wondering who will again captain the Big Orange Ship, but until that announcement they, like the public, will wait. However, some players are already pushing agendas to keep their respective position coaches, especially the offensive line.
"I am looking to definitely keep coach Pittman," offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James aid. "We are going to try and go talk to Dave Hart and talk to whoever we need to talk to (in order) to keep him as an offensive line. He has worked out great with us. We feel like we really click with this one. We would like to get him to stay."
Watch as Chaney and select players addressed the media following Monday's practice at Haslam Field: