John Currie

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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.

Tennessee AD comments on firing of Butch Jones

AP Photo/Wade Payne
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After initial reports on Sunday broke the news of the latest coaching change in college football, Tennessee Athletics Director John Currie has now confirmed it through a statement. Butch Jones is out as the head coach of the Vols, and Brady Hoke is officially the interim coach for the remainder of the season.

“I would like to emphasize how much I appreciate Butch and Barb Jones and their sons, Alex, Adam and Andrew,” the statement form Currie reads. “The Jones family has poured their heart and soul into this Tennessee football program and the Knoxville community. We have been fortunate to have Coach Jones lead our program for the last five years. During that time, the program has improved tremendously in the areas of academics, discipline and community involvement.”

“Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be competitively. For that reason, I have asked Coach Jones to step down as head football coach. I know Coach Jones will be successful moving forward, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Some reports suggested Jones was given the option of coaching out the remainder of the season, only to have Jones turn down the offer. If that offer was extended, it was probably the best call Jones could make given the circumstances.

Tennessee was 34-27 in five seasons under Jones and 3-0 in bowl games, but the program was clearly in need of new direction as Jones’ tactics were not having the kind of impact and success Tennessee had hoped to see by now.

Hoke last acted as a head coach during 2014 in his final season with the Michigan Wolverines. Hoke has a career coaching record of 78-70 between three jobs with Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan.

UPDATE (5:57 p.m. ET): Jones will be receiving quite the lofty buyout, according to a release from Tennessee. Because Jones was let go without cause, he will be entitled to be paid a buyout of $8,257,580.00, unless there are any deals between the two sides to agree to a reduced buyout.