Sunday, August 24 2014 12:56 AM EDT2014-08-24 04:56:42 GMT
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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After the Tennessee Volunteers loss Saturday night against Mississippi State, the rock on UT's campus became a means of expression for those who are criticizing head football coach Derek Dooley.
"It was definitely creative, yes it was," said Chris Douglass, a Knoxville resident.
The message painted on the UT rock Sunday morning said "Fire Fooley." It's not clear who painted the statement.
"I wouldn't have expected something like this up there," said UT Freshman Casey Fisher.
The message accompanied by a crossed-out pair of orange slacks as well as the words, "not SEC-worthy."
A photo of the rock and the "Fire Fooley" phrase quickly circulated around social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Not long after, the messages on the rock were quickly covered with gray paint. A university spokesperson said UT officials were not behind the repainting. The spokesperson noted that in the rare cases the rock has been censored, the university uses white paint.
"It was shocking, I had to see it for myself, I'm kind of disappointed that I got here and it was already taken down," said Chris Douglass.
"The culture of college athletics is gotten so outspoken now. People think they have the right to say anything, and some things they shouldn't say," said Sterling Henton, UT Quarterback from 1987- 1990.
Henton he was surprised and even offended by the messages. He said any talk of firing Dooley may be a knee-jerk reaction.
"Don't judge a man on midway through the season when games that we all lost are against ranked teams. We got a chance to do something good this season and still make a bowl game," Henton said.
Even after the loss, many students are still supporting Dooley.
"I think some people don't realize what he's actually done for the team. I think that it's gone a little too far," said UT student Mitra Mosadagh.
The message pointed out Dooley's 0-13 record against ranked opponents. Given the high stakes of SEC football, some people say they understand the sense of frustration among Vol fans.
"We've yet to get a conference win, I could understand why fans did this," Douglass said.
A UT spokesperson says the university was not behind the repainting of the rock, adding that no message would be removed unless it was "extremely offensive" to the campus community or crossed the line into obscenity.