KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The question for Tennessee football has gone from “Who’s next?” to “Now, what?”
The Vols’ fanbase took back control of the program on Sunday after the administration was on the verge of hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano — a candidate that no other big-time programs have wanted to run their program the past two years.
Some in the national media said it was a bad look for Tennessee to reject a “qualified” coach like Schiano, but then, it’s not their program, it is?
The fact is that Vols’ fans have not seen a Top 10 finish since 2001, and they have not see their team play in a New Year’s Six/BCS level bowl since after the 1999 season, when Nebraska was still Nebraska and hammered Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.
There’s a chance that Schiano and super agent Jimmy Sexton could pursue Tennessee for buyout money if there was a signed contract in hand, and there’s a chance that could be a threat to the job security of athletic director John Currie.
That’s the first thing to get cleared up on Rocky Top, and then it will be back to the coaching search once it’s determined who will be doing the hiring.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is a name SEC Country has reported on throughout the process, and he remains more valid than ever now that established coaches like Jimbo Fisher, Dan Mullen and Mike Leach appeared to have other interests.
Purdue’s Jeff Brohm is a promising young coach that Phillip Fulmer once recruited, and what about Fulmer?
Could Fulmer be in line for a bigger administrative position or assume an interim coach position?
Nothing should be ruled out, not even the return of Southern Cal offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who at the very least has the charisma and drive to appeal.
The last time Tennessee hired a big-name coach it was from Pitt, and current Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi has shown in short time he can take down the biggest programs in the nation (Penn State, Clemson, Miami, Fla.) with significantly less talent.
There are several other coaches who could be considered, and the Vols need to cast a wide net to get it right and avoid another embarrassment like Sunday’s.
SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss Sunday’s historic happenings in today’s podcast.