KNOXVILLE - Without its head coach and with no bowl game on the line, the Tennessee Volunteers played with 13 teammates on their collective minds.
Despite another losing season and a looming coaching search, it was enough to end the season with a win.
With interim coach Jim Chaney calling the shots in place of dismissed head coach Derek Dooley, Tennessee scored twice to open each half in a 37-17 season-ending victory over Kentucky at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"I like this group of kids," Chaney said. "and I was tickled to death that we found a way to win a ball game."
The Vols endured the week without Dooley and played with a relaxed demeanor, the weight of seemingly playing for Dooley's uncertain future lifted off their shoulders.
Now the attention turns to athletic director Dave Hart, who's conducting a search for Tennessee's fourth head football coach in six seasons. The Vols have had three consecutive losing seasons for the first time in more than a century and missed bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since the ate 1970s. Hart's pick is crucial to the future of Tennessee's program as it tries to dig out of its current rut.