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

13 Comments

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.

‘Attitude issues’ net 2018 FAU signee Nero Nelson a dismissal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lane Kiffin seemingly has a high threshold of tolerance when it comes to talented football players, but there’s apparently a line that even he won’t allow them to cross.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Nero Nelson has been dismissed from Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic football program for what were described as “attitude issues.” The dismissal came shortly after the junior college transfer had enrolled in classes at FAU.

From the Post‘s report:

A team source told The Post that Nelson immediately clashed with coaches about the team’s 4th Quarter Program, a training regiment which strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love brought over from Alabama last season. Numerous players credited the program as a key reason the Owls went 11-3 last season and ended the year on a ten-game winning streak.

When confronted about his effort during offseason training by both teammates and coaches, Nelson reacted in a “hostile manner” before other players intervened. Though coaches were willing to give Nelson another opportunity, the receiver continued to feud with teammates before leaving the team.

Subsequent to the Post breaking the story, the Sun Sentinel spoke to the wide receiver’s JUCO coach, who wasn’t exactly stunned at the turn of events.

“It’s not surprising,” Copiah Lincoln (Miss.) Community College coach Glenn Davis told the newspaper. “When he went far that far away, I was kind of concerned. He’s a tremendous talent, but he sometimes doesn’t make the best decisions.”

Nelson originally signed with Mississippi State in February of 2016 but was forced to go the junior college route because of academics. 247Sports.com had Nelson rated as the No. 3 JUCO receiver on its composite board when he signed with FAU in December of last year.

North Carolina players facing suspensions over NCAA violations

Getty Images
1 Comment

It wasn’t exactly a banner day for the North Carolina football program Wednesday, to say the least.

Not long after Larry Fedora crammed both feet in his mouth when it comes to the subject of CTE, reports surfaced that several Tar Heel football players are facing suspensions of at least one game after selling university-issued shoes and athletic apparel.  WRAL wrote that “UNC became aware of the potential violations and self-reported them in February,” adding that “[t]he report was processed as a secondary violation by the NCAA in March.”

Neither the names nor the actual number of players involved in the violations have been revealed.  The situation arose not long after the football program switched to Jordan Brand apparel last year.

Wednesday night, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham released a statement addressing the development.

When we became aware of a situation within the football program, we self-reported what the NCAA deemed to be a secondary violation. I worked closely with Chancellor Folt and Coach Fedora to address this issue from an NCAA, University and Department of Athletics perspective, and we have taken appropriate disciplinary action.

We have high expectations of all of our students, coaches and staff, and we expect everyone to abide by and embrace team and NCAA rules. We are disappointed when we fall short, and we always strive to get better.

Details emerge in Ohio State WRs coach Zach Smith’s criminal trespassing charge

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Ohio State at Michigan
Getty Images
2 Comments

And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.

Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith (pictured, right) had been cited — not arrested, as originally reported — May 12 on one count of criminal trespassing. In updating the original report, the Cleveland Plain Dealer provided details of the incident report associated with the situation that landed the Buckeyes assistant in Delaware (Ohio) Municipal Court Wednesday afternoon:

An incident report obtained by cleveland.com shows that Powell, Ohio police were dispatched to a home just after 8 p.m. on May 12 for a dispute. Smith’s ex-wife is listed as the victim on the report. The report states that there was no forced entry, the victim was not injured and that Smith was not suspected of using alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. No other details were given.

Subsequent to that, Smith’s attorney explained to the Columbus Dispatch that the situation resulted from Smith attempting to drop his 13-year-old son off at his ex-wife’s residence when she called the police.

“They pick up and drop off like every other divorced family,” Koffel said. “They said, ‘He was told by one of our officers five months ago not to drop off at her apartment.’ I said that’s not enough to override a domestic-court order on where he’s allowed to drop off or pick up his kids. It’s a court order that controls this. …

“He’s like, ‘You know what, I’m going to drop him off at your place. No harm, no foul.’

“She took exception to that and called the Powell Police Department. There were no threats. He never got out of his car. They weren’t even in an argument.”

In between the May citation and July court appearance, Smith had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

When reached by CFT not long after the reports surfaced, an OSU spokesperson declined to comment on the report. Urban Meyer is aware of the situation, and the football program is expected to issue a statement addressing the development at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Smith, the 34-year-old grandson of former OSU head coach Earle Bruce, has been on Meyer’s staff each of the six seasons since the head coach came to the Buckeyes in 2012, and will be (presumably) entering his seventh season with the program in 2018. He also worked under Meyer as a graduate assistant and quality control coach at Florida from 2005-09. Smith, a 2007 UF graduate, coached at Marshall (2010) and Temple (2011) before reuniting with Meyer in Columbus.

Suspended Mizzou starting S Kaleb Prewett has been dismissed

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thanks to an off-field incident, Missouri’s defensive secondary will have a sizable on-field hole to fill.

In January, it was confirmed that Kaleb Prewett had been indefinitely suspended by Barry Odom for violating unspecified team rules. Six months later, the head coach confirmed at the SEC Media Days this week that the starting safety has been dismissed from his football program.

Just when the dismissal took place is unclear.

In February of 2016, and not long after he was arrested on an alcohol-related offense, it was confirmed that Prewett would be transferring from Kansas State; three months later, the starting defensive back for the Wildcats transferred to the Tigers. After sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Prewett began 2017 as Mizzou’s starting strongside linebacker before starting the last seven games at safety.

Prewett was fourth on the Tigers in tackles this past season with 60. He was also credited with four tackles for loss and two pass breakups.