It happens at the end of every season. While confetti rains down on champions and the less fortunate go to bed telling themselves, “It was still a good season,” there are those who can’t sleep at all because not only have they not eaten in days, but because their body is lousy with the parasites that accompany malnutrition.
We forget sometimes that the college football gods giveth
and then taketh away.
This is normal. It’s the ebb and flow of a sport with automatic turnover every couple of years through graduations and swings in population demographics that directly affect talent acquisition.
But Oooh boy, sometimes those college football gods realllyyy stick it in and break it off.
What the Vols have gone through in the past 10 years is downright inhumane. The firing of their national championship winning head coach was seemingly the beginning of a Rube Goldberg/SAW contraption that is still claiming victims to this very day. Soon after Phil Fulmer’s exit from the program in 2008, they turned to this guy:
And how did that turn out?
Yeah, suddenly left for USC a year into his tenure, bringing Tennessee’s recruiting class to a grinding halt. Maybe even further supporting the notion you may be developing that this program is cursed and haunted, Kiffin’s own career has been as up and down as the stock market since leaving Knoxville. Ranging everywhere from being fired at the LAX tarmac, to rehabbing his career under Nick Saban, to leaving for Florida Atlantic and becoming a twitter celebrity. Anyways, Kiffin bolting for the Trojans left Tennessee no choice but to hire this guy:
SPEAKING OF RECRUITING. Derek Dooley didn’t do UT any favors in that department…or any others really, as outlined here. In retrospect, it’s hard for me to pinpoint how much of that tenure was Dooley being an awful coach and how much of it was this Harrenhal of a program chewing up and spitting out the soul a more delicate man.
Then again I suppose the opposite of delicate is Butch Jones.
To his credit, Butch took on one hell of a mess and objectively cleaned a lot of it up. Recruiting ticket up (#21, #5, #5, #15, #15) from 2013 to 2017 according to Rivals. Total wins increased every year until his final year and included “signature” wins over Georgia and finally breaking an ELEVEN YEAR steak over the rival Florida Gators.
By all accounts, Butch Jones left Tennessee a much better place than the version he inherited. His biggest contribution may have even been the way he absolutely tanked this year, leaving no room for argument and dragging of feet (the administration totally dragged their feet anyway) in his firing and Tennessee’s entry into this year’s coaching carrousel.
To say that Tennessee has “dropped the ball” with naming a successor would be an understatement. The better analogy would be Tennessee dropping the ball, picking it up and running it in the wrong direction, breaking the tackles of its own teammates, scoring a touch down for the other team, walking to midfield, dropping pants and taking just a GIANT STEAMING SHIT on the school’s logo all while NEVER breaking eye contact with the live mascot.
Someday the real story about all the candidates that used Tennessee like a town bicycle to leverage contract negotiations will be revealed. Some things we do know, though. They were turned down by head coaches at Purdue, Duke, and NC State. That’s like saying you asked the captain of the chest team, debate club, AND someone from the tuba section of the school marching band to prom and they all, emphatically, said, “NO AND PLEASE STOP BEGGING ITS UNBECOMING OF YOU.”
We also know that this all went realllyyy sideways when UT tried to hire Greg Schinao, current DC at Ohio State, former HC at Rutgers. Arguably mixed results as a head coach but had the backing of the likes of Urban Meyer and Bill Belichick. He was also said, in a deposition by former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, to MAYBE have had knowledge of Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting young boys back in the 90’s when they were both under Joe Paterno’s staff. Probably not the best hire given today’s political climate and the fact that Tennessee is coming off a recent Title IX investigation. DEFINITELY not the best choice to swiftly back off of the contract signing at the 11th hour in the wake of fan outrage, signaling to the coaching world that you let the masses run the show.
The names have changed almost every day since the Schiano incident. One coach after another is turning this program down and you know it’s officially become a circus when the WWE is involved (in more ways that one). It’s almost a guarantee that whomever finally agrees to take this program over is going to be shunned by fans and will have unrealistic expectations placed on their shoulders with almost no time to deliver them. The biggest irony, to me though, is that Tennessee has become so toxic and unattractive; that even the coaches it has fired probably wouldn’t touch this job with a ten-foot pole.