Tennessee is preparing to rebuild their program brick by brick, once again. Following yet another dismal performance in SEC play, Tennessee will reportedly cut ties with head coach Butch Jones. Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated was among the first to report the development out of Knoxville, via Twitter. Chris Low of ESPN added Brady Hoke will take over as interim head coach for the rest of the season.
The news comes one day after Tennessee lost at Missouri, 50-17. The loss dropped the Vols to 4-6, putting them on the brink of being eliminated from postseason contention. Tennessee is now 0-6 in SEC play with LSU and Vanderbilt remaining in conference play. Hired at the end of the 2012 season, Jones had coached Tennessee to a 34-27 record in the span of five years with some highly-rated recruiting classes along the way with a bowl record of 3-0, but the Vols were clearly heading in a downward spiral despite back-to-back 9-win seasons the past two seasons. A trend of either not being able to live up to expectations and becoming a program running on gimmicks like catchphrases, life championships, and sideline trash cans had led Tennessee to be disrespected from within and from outside. But the results on the field ultimately matter the most, and Jones and Tennessee had established quite the disturbing trends on the field.
During Jones’ run as head coach of the Vols, Tennessee appeared to have a wide-open window to take advantage of the struggles of their division opponents. Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Vols were never able to seize the division at a time when Florida was going through some struggles and Georgia had their hiccups. Tennessee failing to capture a division crown despite the lofty expectations and solid recruiting classes became the ultimate failure of the program, and now Jones is left paying the price for those missed opportunities.
Where Tennessee goes from here should be wildly entertaining as they now join division rival Florida on the lookout for a new head coach. The Tennessee job should be an attractive one and the right coach should be able to get things turned around relatively quickly.
The Tennessee job is now the third coaching opening in the SEC. In addition to Tennessee and Florida, Ole Miss will also be looking to hire a new head coach after cutting the cord with Hugh Freeze before the start of the season.
Over the past several days, it appeared that Florida had zeroed in on Chip Kelly as its next head coach. On Black Friday, that appears to no longer be the case.
Earlier this afternoon, FootballScoop.com reported that coaches they’ve spoken to expect Kelly to choose UCLA as his destination for a return to college football. Not long after, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported that “Florida has moved on from Kelly” as its potential head coach and will move on to other, unnamed candidates. Forde adds that “UCLA is the increasingly likely new destination for the former coach of the Oregon Ducks.”
Whether Florida moved on because Kelly informed them he was headed to UCLA or because they simply couldn’t reach an agreement is unknown at this time.
These reports come a couple of days after it was reported that UF was prepared to move on from Kelly if he didn’t make a decision in short order.
With Kelly apparently out of the picture in Gainesville, the Gators will very likely turn their attention to UCF’s Scott Frost and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.
If Frost is the target, UF will likely have some competition in the form of Frost’s alma mater Nebraska, which is expected to part ways with Mike Riley after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale. MSU, meanwhile, is prepared to “go all in” to retain Mullen.
The rumor mill is set to make yet another coach a much richer man. Again.
While it appears that, at least for the moment, Florida is focused on Chip Kelly as its next head football coach, Dan Mullen‘s name has been mentioned as another realistic possibility to replace the dismissed Jim McElwain. The connection makes sense as Mullen spent four seasons as UF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer before leaving for Mississippi State, where he’s spent the past nine seasons as head coach. Also, UF’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin, served in the same role in Starkville during a portion of Mullen’s time with the Bulldogs.
In addition to Florida, Tennessee is believed to maintain an interest in prying Mullen away as well.
In that vein, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that MSU is prepared to “go all in” in an attempt to keep Mullen. How all in is the university? “The 45-year-old Mullen is already getting paid $4.5 million, but word is the school is willing to bump him up to around $6 million and also making an even stronger financial commitment to his staff,” Feldman wrote.
In his nine seasons, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a record of 69-46 overall and 33-39 in SEC play. With the exception of 2014 (second), they’ve finished either fourth (2009, 2012) or fifth (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) in the SEC West the last eight seasons; at 4-4, the best they’ll finish this season is tied for fourth.
Feldman’s report comes less than 24 hours after MSU, thanks in very large part to a gruesome first-half injury to its starting quarterback, lost its annual Egg Bowl matchup to Ole Miss. That loss dropped Mullen’s record in that rivalry game to 5-4. Prior to Mullen’s arrival in 2009, though, the Rebels had won five of the previous seven meetings in the series.
For Miami, it’s deja vu all over again.
For the first quarter and half Black Friday afternoon, it was looking as if unbeaten and second-ranked Miami would be facing its fifth halftime deficit of the season as 4-7 Pitt was leading the Hurricanes 3-0 midway through the second quarter. However, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Ahmmon Richards, which featured some nifty footwork from the latter to get into the end zone, gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.
However, a late Pitt touchdown at the end of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett‘s six-yard scamper gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room. Four times previously, UM has trailed at the half — Toledo (16-10), Florida State (3-0), Georgia Tech 14-13) and Virginia (21-14); each time, the Hurricanes came from behind to win.
As the score hints at, neither offense could muster much production, with the Panthers holding a 175-108 edge in yards. The U’s much-discussed and mega-hyped turnover chain made a pair of appearances, but the Hurricanes couldn’t convert either turnover into points; in fact, the Pitt defense forced three-and-outs on each occasion.
If the Hurricanes can come from behind yet again, they will finish off a perfect 12-0 regular season for the first time since 2002. That team made it to the BCS title game but lost to Ohio State.
Miami will get the ball to start the second half.
The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t an especially positive one for one member of the Iowa State football program.
According to the Des Moines Register, Brian Peavy was arrested Thursday evening on one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. The starting cornerback was subsequently released from the county jail a short time later after posting an unspecified bond.
From the Register‘s report:
Ames Police Department Sgt. Christine Crippen said police responded to a call around 5:06 p.m. regarding possible vandalism taking place in a skate park in Ames.
Police discovered Peavy and another male spray-painting underneath a bridge near the park. Peavy and the other male ran when approached by police. Peavy was caught while the other male escaped.
WHO-TV reports that an ISU spokesperson confirmed that Peavy remains in good standing with the team and will play in Saturday’s game against Kansas State. ISU heads into the weekend with an outside shot at clinching a berth in the Big 12 championship game, pending the result of today’s Baylor-TCU game.
Peavy currently leads the Cyclones in pass breakups with seven; is tied for second in interceptions with two, and is third in tackles with 75. The redshirt junior has been an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection each of the past two seasons.