Every Monday, head coach Derek Dooley addresses his team about the upcoming opponent and the week of work leading up to the next game.
This morning, Dooley did that, but also addressed his football team about his future. Dooley and the players didn't want to discuss any of the details of the meeting with the media.
"It's an inside thing," Lathers said. "It's between us. We aren't going to disclose it to the media. It's a family and things stay inside. We are going to keep it inside the family."
Sources tell Volquest that Dooley told his team that he wasn't sure his future. Placekicker Michael Palardy said it was extremely important that the Vols' coach addressed things Monday morning.
"It's really big, and it's really important," Palardy said. "We all recognize that there is a huge elephant in the room and it has to be addressed. The bottom line is that everyone knows what's going on and everyone knows what is being said. There's no reason to hide it or to shy away from it. Let's call it like it is and that was the biggest part of what coach Dooley was trying to get across to us. Let's address it. We don't need to be listening to all the other stuff that's being said. We have two more games that we need to focus on. He's our head coach and that's our main focus right now.
"I think that there may have been a lot of questions that would not have been answered. We realize that people are going to say what they want to say. Fans and outsiders who don't really know what's going on. They say their opinions. As a team and internally if he wouldn't have addressed it to us there would have been a lot of questions and curiosities throughout the team. I think it was good that he did. That's not our focus now. That's in the past. He's said clearly that we can't be listening to all of that stuff. We have two more games left to play. Internally, that helped us a lot with him talking with us."
While the details of the meeting and what was said were unclear, what was clear in talking to players is that it was not a run-of-the-mill meeting. Palardy indicated it was tough Monday morning as it has been for his coach the last few weeks.
"It's tough for anyone to go through that. The amount of criticism," Palardy said. "The amount of clutter that's going on right now. It's hard to compartmentalize and keep it to yourself and not really tell anyone or talk about it. This whole team is a family. The coaching staff, the support staff, my teammates, we are a big family. That's what families do. You have problems and you talk about it. Coach Dooley has done a real good job of it. The way he addressed it to us today … it takes a lot. It takes a real man to do that. He has a lot of passion for this team. He loves this team. And we love our coach. He's our coach. We are going to play for him. I think he has done a very good job of handling it and talking to us about it."
The question now is with the Vols needing to win out, can they keep circling the wagons after another tough loss or is this team emotionally and mentally to beat down. Palardy feels like no one outside the program knows the makeup of this team.
"Absolutely, I don't doubt at all that we can come back and win these next two games, go to a bowl game and win the bowl game. We are so concerned and so invested in what we do that we are not worried about what other people have to say," Palardy said. "No one really knows how much time and effort we put into this and how much passion we have for this game. Like I said people aren't getting the results they want and people are going to have their opinions but nobody sees how much work we put into this. I don't think that brick wall is even there for us. We came out to practice today and it was exactly like practice last week with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence. It's hard for people to hear that but it's true. We come out here and we work our tails off every single day. That's the good thing about this team. No matter how much adversity we have hit throughout this entire season. We still fight."
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