Tennessee athletics director John Currie botched his first major football coaching move. After appearing to get a somewhat early jump on the hunt for a new head coach after removing Butch Jones as head coach earlier in November, Sunday let to a meltdown of epic proportions that makes his next decision one he absolutely can not mess up.
It was originally reported Tennessee was closing in on signing Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to be the next head coach. Once word of that pending coaching hire made the rounds, fans voiced their displeasure so vehemently that the only decision to make was to abandon ship and part ways with Schiano before getting a chance to let the ink on a contract dry, let alone even be put on paper.
Schiano’s ties to the Penn State football program during the time Jerry Sandusky was employed by the university fueled the outrage of Tennessee fans not happy about the coaching hire. The anti-Schiano sentiment was based on the hearsay testimony of former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary regarding information he shared about Sandusky’s vile acts, but the testimony was never deemed credible enough to attach any responsibility to Schiano by those investigating the scandal at the time. Regardless of what Schiano did or did not know, he has been employed the past few years by Ohio State as he returns to the coaching game at the college level after a brief hiatus following a failed NFL run in Tampa and a successful run as the head coach at Rutgers.
Whether or not Schiano would have worked out at Tennessee will now never be known. What is known now is the Vols are back to square one in a sense at a time when the coaching carousel is already off and running. UCLA lured Chip Kelly their way and Florida has already seemingly found some comfort and stability with hiring Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State. Currie made the costly mistake of not utilizing a search firm initially. Say what you will about the constant need for schools to rely on search firms, this is now the textbook example of why every AD should call a search firm right away to assist with the search for a new coach.
Tennessee can absolutely still hire a good coach that can turn things around in Knoxville, but after swinging hard and whiffing with his first potential coaching hire, Currie’s seat is already coming to a boil and he has to hope his next (first) coaching hire at Tennessee is received well and works out in the long run.