Greg Schiano

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Report suggests Tennessee’s MOU with Greg Schiano may be invalid

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Remember that time Tennessee tried to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to be the head coach? After fans revolted against the pending coaching hire, Tennessee and Schiano walked away from each other, but there was the thought that Tennessee may still be on the hook for paying Schiano. That may no longer be an issue for the Vols according to a report out of Knoxville.

Jimmy Hyams of WNML reports the memorandum of understanding Tennessee and Schiano agreed to prior to officially signing a full contract may be invalid due to a missing signature. The signature in question belongs to the university’s chief financial officer or the university president. Without those signatures, the MOU could be ruled invalid in any court case regarding the contractual obligations Tennessee has toward Schiano.

As reported by Hyams;

UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport, through spokesman Ryan Robinson, did not sign the MOU. But whether she signed it or not is immaterial, according to UT’s policy.

The policy said the Chancellor only has the authority to sign “delegated contracts’’ – contracts for $100,000 or less. Any contract over $100,000 is considered a non-delegated contract.

To make a non-delegated contract official, it must be signed by UT’s Chief Financial Officer, who is David L. Miller.

This would be good news for Tennessee. The MOU laid out the terms of Schiano’s contract, a six-year deal valued at $4.5 million per year. How much of that contract Schiano would have been entitled to if the document was fully and properly signed without a formal contract being finalized afterward is best left to the legal experts who may be reading. But if this report is accurate, then it is pretty clear that Tennessee dodged another disaster at the hands of former athletics director John Currie.

Tennessee fired Currie in the aftermath of a disaster of a coaching search and named former football coach Phillip Fulmer the new AD. Since then, Tennessee has hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be the new head coach. Schiano remains Ohio State’s defensive coordinator.

Tennessee AD admits to tabbing Greg Schiano “a leading candidate” for Vols job

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A day after Tennessee fans melted down in reaction to the pending hiring of Greg Schiano as head coach of the Vols, Tennessee Athletics Director John Currie has issued a statement confirming the Ohio State defensive coordinator was indeed the leading candidate for the job.

Currie released a statement Monday morning outlining the logic that went into the decision to move forward with Schiano as a leading candidate. In it, Currie addressed the past of Schiano from his time at Penn State, which had become a boiling point for outrage upon learning Schiano would be the next head coach in Knoxville.

We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions. He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures. 

Coach Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990-1995. Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh. Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. I know that Coach Schiano will continue to have great success in his coaching career and wish him and his family well.

This statement may not do much to calm the tension in Knoxville right now, as Currie admits Schiano was the best option he came up with even after supposedly exhausting the vetting process on his end. Now, Tennessee is back to the beginning of the coaching search and the next coach will know for a fact he was the second choice behind Schiano. Who is next on the list of candidates remains to be seen, but hopefully Currie and Tennessee will manage to avoid a similar toxic reaction from fans in the future.

Tennessee’s Sunday coaching hire debacle puts Vols behind the curve in silly season

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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.

Buckeyes know focus on Saquon Barkley is just the start

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When Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is working on the defensive game plan for this week’s matchup against Penn State, the starting point is an obvious one: don’t be a part of Saquon Barkley‘s Heisman reel.

Penn State’s dynamic running back has emerged as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and is coming off a good outing against Michigan last week. Getting a chance to go against Barkley is a motivating factor for Ohio State’s defense, and linebacker Jerome Baker seems to be looking forward to going out and trying to stop him.

“Always be aware of where he’s at, know where he is every play, every down,” Baker said, according to the Associated Press. “That’s just pure respect… He can do it all. He can block, he can run, he can jump over you, he can jump through you. Me personally, I just love to watch him play. I’m definitely excited to play against him.”

Barkley truly is a running back that can thrive in multiple areas, making him the best all-around running back in the nation. Barkley has accounted for 757 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 448 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns, and one touchdown pass along with a kickoff return for a touchdown. On top of that, he has proven to be a solid blocker, making a key block on Penn State’s game-winning play earlier this season in the final seconds against Iowa.

Teams facing Penn State have made it a point to zero in on Barkley and hope they can contain him enough to slow down Penn State’s offense. Barkley has had four games this season with fewer than 100 rushing yards, including Indiana and Northwestern, but Barkley has also rushed for 211 yards against Iowa and 108 yards against Michigan while also adding to his receiving total. Teams have proven they can penetrate Penn State’s offensive line to prevent Barkley from having too many opportunities to break a big play, but stopping him completely is a different story.

Barkley has had some of his best games against Ohio State. Last year, Barkley rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries to help Penn State hang around long enough to take the upset win at home. The previous season, in Barkley’s freshman season and first game in Ohio Stadium, Barkley rushed for 194 yards on 26 carries, and he had a long touchdown run called back due to a penalty. Barkley has yet to score a touchdown against Ohio State in two meetings, which should be worthy of a badge of honor for Ohio State. If the Buckeyes can keep Barkley out of the end zone again, that would be an impressive feat over three seasons.

So too is solving the rest of the Penn State offense. As Northwestern and Michigan found out, selling out to stop Barkley can be effective at times, but Penn State has other options to play with to counter that strategy. Trace McSorley running is a threat as well, as is passing to tight end Mike Gesicki and receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Juwan Johnson.

Last year, Ohio State did well in slowing down Penn State’s offense in Beaver Stadium, but the Buckeyes failed to deliver the knockout blow with the ball and that ended up costing them the win. On Saturday, the Ohio State defense gets their chance to flex some muscle once again, but it will remain up to J.T. Barrett and the offense to finish the job.

No. 11 Ohio State’s domination a reminder not to count Buckeyes out in Big Ten or CFB Playoff

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Sure, it was only a game against Rutgers (1-4, 0-2 Big Ten), but the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) looked much more like the Big Ten title favorite they were at the start of the season than at any point this season. J.T. Barrett passed for three touchdowns, Mike Weber rushed for three touchdowns, and the Ohio State defense never gave Rutgers much time to breathe in a 56-0 road win in New Jersey.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano returned to the Rutgers campus for the first time since being fired from the job as head coach of the Scarlet Knights, and he came in with a dominating defensive effort and game plan. Ohio State held Rutgers to 13 first downs and just 209 yards of offense in the shutout. It is the second straight shutout Ohio State has pitched against Rutgers in as many seasons (Ohio State won 58-0 last year).

The shutout for Ohio State was preserved in the final minute when a late field goal attempt simply to get any points on the scoreboard went bouncing off the upright.

Since losing at home to Big 12 frontrunner Oklahoma in Week 2, Ohio State has outscored their last three opponents by a score of 141-28. The bigger challenges still are coming later this season for Ohio State, but this stretch was needed after taking a loss at home and being knocked down a few pegs in the pecking order in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture. With plenty of time to rebound, Ohio State needed to get the offense on track during this stretch before having to deal with games against Penn State (Oct. 28), a road trip to Iowa (Nov. 4), and the regular season finale in Ann Arbor against Michigan (Nov. 25). Ohio State still looks every bit the Big Ten contender they were supposed to be, and right now they are taking care of business the way they needed after the early loss to the Sooners.

Ohio State will be back home next week for a game against a surprising Maryland team. The Terrapins have been hurt by injuries but managed to win on the road against Minnesota on Saturday. This should be a much more difficult road test for Maryland. Ohio State won last year’s game, 62-3.

Rutgers will get a week off to regroup and give it another shot to pick up a win in Big Ten play. Rutgers returns to the field on Oct. 14 with a road trip to Illinois.