How not to handle a coaching search


Georgia Tech v Tennessee


I know it’s been a rough couple of weeks, Ole Miss, but at least you’re not Tennessee.

Yes, I’m overstating things for (hopefully) comedic effect. Ole Miss just got hit with another year bowl ban and another batch of lost scholarships, and the program could not be much lower than it is right now.

But at least they have a coach. Matt Luke may be the opposite of a big-splash hire, but he did lead the Rebels to a better-than-expected 6-6 record this season.

The Vols’ coaching search, meanwhile, has turned into a dumpster fire. But at least they have a turnover trash can in which to throw all those declined offers.

Greg Schiano? Not liking the look of those torches and pitchforks coming over the hill. Mike Gundy? No thanks, staying put. Jeff Brohm? Ha Ha! No. Dave Doeren? Thanks for getting me this sweet extension. Mike Leach? Well … wait, why did you fire your AD?

Jon Gruden? Hello? Is anyone there?

John Currie let this train get off the rails first by failing to judge the temperature in the room when he reached an agreement with Schiano. Then he let it burst into flames by allowing a social media firestorm to back him down.

UT’s fans are not wrong to question how much Schiano knew at Penn State, or even whether he’s up to the job of re-establishing the Vols as an SEC power. But if you’re an athletic director, you have to know where you stand before you call your shot. Then call it and stand by it.

Currie caved and now he’s gone, fired as AD in favor of Phil Fulmer. One report, citing sources at Tennessee, claimed Fulmer was sabotaging the process all along in order to take Currie’s job. One report does not necessarily mean it’s true, but it’s also not the first time Fulmer has been accused of stabbing someone in the back to further his own ends in Knoxville.

Johnny Majors on Line One.

What coach would take the Tennessee job now, under these circumstances? Doeren wisely stayed at N.C. State, getting a raise from the Wolfpack even as some UT fans were reportedly mobilizing to protest his hiring. Once focused on established head coaches, the search has turned to assistants like Brent Venables, Jeremy Pruitt, Kevin Steele and Mel Tucker, and Vols fans who freaked out over Schiano and Doeren must be apoplectic by now.

Is there anyone not named Gruden who would satisfy Big Orange Nation?

And, while we’re at it, what is the fascination with a guy who hasn’t coached in the college game since 1989 and hasn’t coached at all since 2008? Do we know he’d be the home run hire that he’s being built up to be?

No, we don’t. He’s a name. And sometimes a name’s just a name.

A couple of predictions: Gruden is going to be in the broadcast booth telling us “I really like this guy” for years to come. And if I’m wrong about that and he ever goes back to the sidelines, it’ll be in the NFL.

The rest of the SEC would sit back and laugh if so much of it weren’t also in flux. Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin and lured Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. Florida ran off Jim McElwain and brought back Dan Mullen. Mississippi State hired former Penn State OC Joe Moorhead. Arkansas, after looking to rival UT for a time in terms of length of search, is closing in on a deal with SMU’s Chad Morris, according to one report. And Ole Miss went with Luke.

Wait, this just coming in from Oxford: Shea Patterson is transferring and a bunch of his former Ole Miss teammates looking to do likewise essentially forced the school to lift restrictions on movement to in-conference schools or future opponents.

Never mind, Ole Miss. You’re apparently the bigger train wreck after all. At least for now.

Your move, Vols.

Categories: College football

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