Nightmare in Knoxville
By now, you have to have seen the utter chaos that went down this past Sunday at the University of Tennessee surrounding the Tennessee football team. To start, it was leaked that AD John Currie had reached an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano (former HC of Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers University) to become the team’s next head football coach. Then all hell broke loose. Essentially, Tennessee athletic boosters and fans threw a massive fit and began protesting the Schiano hire.
Out of nowhere, Schiano’s reputation was on the hot seat. Every skeleton in Schiano’s closet was in the limelight. However, none were nastier than the allegations that he had failed to report sexual assault while working at Penn State in the early 90’s.
That morning, The Rock on the UT campus read: “SCHIANO COVERED UP CHILD RAPE AT PENN STATE.”
On television, fans had taken to the street in protest.
On Twitter, state representatives were blasting off:
@UTKnoxville if you hire him, the backlash will be insurmountable and devastating to the University and the state.
— Jeremy Faison (@JeremyFaison4TN) November 26, 2017
All because fans weren’t happy with the hire. Not because they actually analyzed the Freeh Report on the Penn State allegations. Not once did they care that Schiano has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. At no point did anyone care what damage this would do to the man’s reputation when he clearly did nothing wrong.
Was Schiano Really the Problem?
In reality, Greg Schiano wasn’t a poor hire in the first place. Look at what he did at Rutgers. Over eleven seasons, Schiano took Rutgers from an FBS doormat to a perennial bowl team. From 2005 to 2011 Rutgers went 56-33 and won five bowl games over a seven-season span.
After the 2011 season, Schiano received an offer he couldn’t refuse. A chance to be a head coach in the NFL. Unfortunately, Schiano’s tenure as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach lasted only two seasons. Funny thing is, you don’t remember fans in Tampa ever mention the Penn State scandal in relation to the Schiano hire.
By all accounts, the temper tantrum thrown by the state of Tennessee over the weekend was not because people across the state are suddenly in outrage about child rape. Per WorldAtlas.Com, Tennessee has the thirteenth highest population of sex offenders in the country. No. Tennessee fans are upset that John Gruden or another big name isn’t jumping at the bit to be the Volunteer head coach.
Now here we are. Right about here:
#Tennessee Coaching Hot Board 🎯
— preston. (@prestonpsimpson) November 29, 2017
No one wants the job. After the display Vols fans put on this weekend who would want it anyway? The Tennessee football program is a dumpster fire and the fire started with Phillip Fullmer’s firing in 2008. Over that span, UT hasn’t won 10 games in a season once and has a 60-54 record.
The state of Tennessee is no slouch when it comes to football talent. When Fullmer was fired, no one in the athletic department took into account that he was an excellent in-state recruiter. They must have assumed all the good prospects in-state were coming to UT because they were UT not because Fullmer was selling young men on his program. Now the likes of Nick Saban at Alabama, Kirby Smart at Georgia, and even Mike Norvell at Memphis are poaching Tennessee blue-chips right out from under the nose of the Vols.
Who Should Tennessee Football Hire?
If I’m UT Athletic Director John Currie, I’m no longer looking to make a splash with a big-name hire. In the next Volunteer head coach, I’m looking for someone fresh, someone new, but also someone who can recruit the state of Tennessee and furthermore the entire south. Tennessee has the resources to recruit against anyone in the nation. They just need to give the right man the reigns.
Also, if I’m John Currie, I have to get this right or I need to start packing up my office.
If given the opportunity, I would hire Alabama Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be the Volunteers 24th Head Football Coach. Over ten seasons as an assistant at the college ranks, Pruitt has had his fingers all over championship defenses including the 2011 & 2012 Crimson Tide, as well as 2013 Florida State Seminoles. Pruitt had deep ties in high school recruiting, especially in the state of Alabama where he coached for seven seasons.
If anyone is flying under the UT radar, it’s Pruitt. He’s a potential homerun without the day-to-day drama that comes with hiring a high-profile name.
Either way, Tennessee, it’s been fun. Thanks for the laughs.