After the firing of Butch Jones, many Tennessee Volunteer fans rejoiced. Then on Sunday after news broke of the imminent hiring of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, plenty of Vol fans expressed their disdain for Schiano as well.
Fans tweeted at Athletic Director John Currie, and picketed Neyland Stadium in an attempt to keep Schiano out of Knoxville. “The Rock” on Tennessee’s campus was painted with words criticizing Schiano of covering up child rape at Penn State.
The Rock on UT’s campus. pic.twitter.com/aG3BXrkKOW
— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) November 26, 2017
For Tennessee fans that didn’t want Schiano, their actions paid off: The tentative agreement Schiano and Tennessee reportedly reached was called off.
This debacle leaves the football program in quite the predicament. It certainly has tarnished the fan trust in AD John Currie, and has probably made the Vols’ head coaching position less desirable to future coaching candidates the Vols will pursue.
Before Schiano was the target, Chip Kelly reportedly turned down UT in favor of choosing between Florida or UCLA. Now after the weekend’s unraveling, David Cutcliffe has turned down the Vols again and Matt Campbell signed an extension with Iowa State.
Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports joined ESPN 102.5 The Game’s Braden and Fitz on Monday to break down where Tennessee stands. He agrees with many other media members that Greg Schiano would’ve been a good coach at Tennessee.
“[Tennessee fans] didn’t want Greg Schiano because they didn’t think he was worthy of coaching Tennessee based on his record, which they’re totally wrong about but they don’t know what they’re talking about either.” Wolken said.
He believes how Tennessee and their fan base handled and reacted to Schiano will hurt the program’s ability to hire a high level coach this year. Due to the expectations many thrust upon Rocky Top, there are some frightening reasons a potential coach would turn down the Vols.
“There’s people out there who are going to want nothing to do with this job. The kind of thing that happened [Sunday] is scary. It is truly scary. It makes the Tennessee fan base look more wack-o than it already was,” Wolken stated, “You can’t remove what happened [Sunday], it’s a big flashing warning sign for people not to go there.”
Despite the blow the program has taken, Wolken still views the Vols as “between number 16 and 30” top jobs in the country. Although he distinctly said they are not a top-15 caliber position right now.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports chimed in on the Volunteer fallout when he joined ESPN 102.5 The Game’s 3D with Darren McFarland and Willy Daunic on Monday.
Wetzel wanted to set the record straight on Schiano’s involvement with the Penn State rape trial, “If you don’t want Greg Schiano because you don’t think he’s going to do well for Tennessee, that’s fine that’s a football discussion. Convicting him of allowing child rape is a completely different, that is completely unfair in this circumstance.” Wetzel said, “If there was any proof of that I’d be killing Greg Schiano for years on it. It just isn’t there.”
In terms of the Penn State rape trial accusations many accused Schiano of, Wetzel said, “There’s just no evidence, there’s no corroboration, there’s no other witnesses, there’s no other accusations, there’s nothing there that suggests it is true. Could it be true? Absolutely but there’s nothing else there.”
Wetzel remains optimistic the Volunteers can still hire a quality coach. This program still possesses the financial strength and resources of a powerhouse SEC school. With fertile recruiting grounds to dip into, Tennessee is still capable of reeling in an established coach.
“Tennessee is going to get a good coach, whether it works or not nobody ever knows. There’s a couple home run hires every once in a while.” Wetzel stated, “It’s still a good job, it’s a ton of money, it’s the SEC but how Currie gets this done or survives this is going to be fascinating.”
Moving forward, John Currie still has to hire a head coach. Several big names remain floating around the carousel, but Tennessee must compete with schools like Texas A&M and Arkansas after they let go of their coaches last weekend.
According to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Tennessee is interviewing Oklahoma State Head Coach Mike Gundy in Dallas. Other candidates emerging are Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren, and USC’s offensive coordinator Tee Martin.
To hear the full interviews with Dan Wolken and Dan Wetzel check out ESPN 102.5 The Game’s SoundCloud page below.