Well, well. It seems like Tennessee’s Football Fiasco has traveled from coast to coast.
The Vols program is the laughingstock of college football’s stage for the way they bungled trying to hire a replacement for Butch Jones.
There is ample blame to go around.
Athletics Director John Currie has to swallow a large share of that blame.
Currie thought he had his man in Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Currie had a Sunday press conference planned to release his hire.
Oops. That is, until a large contingent of Vol Nation found out it was Schiano, they went bonkers. They thought they had found out that Schiano had played some part in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case. When everyone took a deep breath and stepped back, it appears Schiano was never charged with anything, but appeared to have kept quiet after seeing a young male in the shower with Sandusky and telling another assistant coach before going silent.
Apparently there was no evidence, but the storm increased to the point that Currie called it off after making a memorandum of understanding that he and Schiano were going to sign.
The wolves were howling for Currie’s head. Most of them were blaming Currie for hiring Schiano.
Oh, how the mess was building like an out of control bonfire.
Here is what I think.
I think Currie was a bad hire as an AD. His people skills are lacking. He has a history of being hard to work with. It is his way or the highway.
Chancellor Davenport is also new to her position, leaving Currie to carry forward the challenge of finding a coach.
Oh, only if former Tennessee president Joe Johnson was there to put out the fire. He had more common sense in these matters than all the rest of the people in the athletics department combined.
Johnson surrounded himself with people he trusted to make difficult decisions.
He often said that the football program was the front porch of the university. It was the first thing the people saw. Right or wrong, he knew it to be true.
There is no one left from his regime, so Lord knows where it goes from here.
The mass of malcontents couldn’t fathom having a coach that came from Rutgers to handle the duties an SEC program required.
I remember the late Knoxville sports columnist Ben Byrd, when hearing the Vols were going to play Rutgers in a bowl game.
Byrd asked: “What is a Rutgers?’’
So Schiano is out. Former Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden was never in, despite what legions that live in social media’s warped world insist.
What is left? My choice was Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen. Florida got there first and reportedly offered Mullen much more money than the Vols. Mullen had Florida ties as an assistant coach under current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
The pool is drying up with capable candidates. Guess whose name was out there this week? “I am a MAN!!!’’ Oklahoma State’s head coach Mike Gundy. That’s all they need.
I don’t know if they can get him but Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, who is from a football family in Louisville and well respected, would be my choice.
Here’s what Currie doesn’t understand. Coaches can have all the accolades they present. They can have recommendations from other coaches.
But the most important thing in hiring a football coach is the fit. Is he a fit?
You can’t hire someone from the Northeast and dump him in the Southeast, or vice versa. It’s not going to be a fit. You need a coach that can connect with the fan base, one that has people skills, one who can relate to teen-age recruits.
I don’t see a bright future for John Currie on the Hill.
His next hire is going to go a long way in determining that.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.