Nov. 11: One day after Tennessee blows a late lead after a dominant first half and loses in the fourth overtime to Missouri, the Times Free Press and multiple media outlets in Knoxville report that Derek Dooley is not expected to return for a fourth season as the Volunteers' coach.
Nov. 17: Vanderbilt whips Tennessee 41-18 in Nashville to send the Vols to an 0-7 SEC mark. Tennessee will miss a bowl game for the second consecutive year for the first time since a four-year drought in the late 1970s. It's the Commodores' second win against Tennessee since 1982.
Nov. 18: Less than 12 hours after the humiliating loss, Dooley, 15-21 overall and 4-19 in the SEC in three seasons, is dismissed as the Vols' coach and elects not to coach the season finale against Kentucky. At a news conference, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart outlines his decision and sets the stage for a search for a successor with head coaching experience and integrity who will lead the Vols back to "our rightful place in the Southeastern Conference and beyond."
Nov. 24: In the final game for 12 scholarship seniors and perhaps some juniors who could leave early for the NFL draft, Tennessee beats Kentucky 37-17 in Knoxville with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney serving as interim coach. It caps the program's third consecutive losing season. It's the first time that's happened in more than a century.
Nov. 27: More than a month of rumors pick up steam when Memphis television station WREG reports that Tennessee's offer to former Super Bowl winning coach and current ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden includes a share of the Cleveland Browns franchise, which was recently purchased by Jimmy Haslam, a big-name Tennessee booster. Kentucky becomes the first SEC program to fill its vacancy when the Wildcats tab Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.
Nov. 28: On ESPN's popular "Mike and Mike in the Morning" radio show," Gruden says the WREG report is false. The Browns also release a statement shooting down the report. Later in the day, according to multiple media outlets in Knoxville, Gruden cancels a meeting with Tennessee officials.
Nov. 29: The Times Free Press reports that Gruden is mulling a "lucrative" offer from Tennessee with the lone hangup being the amount of money for his assistants, on which the two parties "aren't close." The next morning, university sources tell multiple media outlets that Gruden declined to pursue Tennessee's vacancy, and Gruden's agent tells the Knoxville News Sentinel that the rumors are from a "fantasy world."
Nov. 30: Tennessee officials meet with Louisville coach Charlie Strong one day after the Cardinals clinch the Big East Conference's BCS bowl bid with a win at Rutgers. Louisville (10-2) eventually is selected for the Sugar Bowl and matched up against Florida. The former South Carolina and Florida defensive coordinator is 24-14 in three seasons with the Cardinals.
Sunday: After his season ends in a loss at Baylor, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy reportedly meets with Tennessee officials. The 45-year-old, most remembered for a postgame news conference rant at a newspaper writer a few years ago, led the Cowboys to a 12-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl win last season and earned a contract extension. The former Oklahoma State player and assistant led the Cowboys to a 7-5 record this season after going 41-11 the previous four years.
Monday: Reports surface that potential target Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a former Auburn and LSU assistant who joined the Seminoles' staff while Hart was the athletic director in Tallahassee in 2007, will stay with Florida State, which won the ACC title just two days earlier.
Tuesday: Arkansas, another opening to which Gundy was linked, hires Wisconsin's Bret Bielema in a bit of a surprising move. Shortly after the Razorbacks make their choice, Auburn selects Arkansas State's Guz Malzahn, who was the Tigers' offensive coordinator for three seasons. Most of the smoke with Tennessee's vacancy moves to Strong, who would say Thursday he received an offer to be the Vols' coach today. Conflicting reports swirl about whether North Carolina's Larry Fedora met with Tennessee officials while in New York City for the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner.
Wednesday: Gundy reportedly turns down an offer from Tennessee to remain at Oklahoma State. After a dramatic afternoon that featured a Louisville team meeting, plane-tracking, conflicting reports and mystery, Strong ultimately decides to remain loyal and stay at Louisville, which surprises Tennessee officials. Reports surface that Fedora is telling recruits he's staying at North Carolina.
Thursday: Just "minutes," Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock would say in a Friday morning news conference, after Bearcats coach Butch Jones turns down what Babcock labeled an "impressive" offer from Colorado, Hart asks Babcock for permission to speak with Jones. Later, Jones, who interviewed at Purdue and Colorado earlier in the week, meets with Tennessee officials.
Friday: Jones informs Babcock of his decision to take the Tennessee job at 5:15 a.m. and tells his players he's leaving in a team meeting at 7:30. He's introduced as the Volunteers' 24th head football coach in an afternoon news conference.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...