The Tennessee coaching search – cautionary tale, or pass the popcorn?

So this morning, UT AD Dave Hart wakes up feeling like a Georgia Tech student who spent last night getting drunk failing to pick up hot looking women at a bar while his friends scored.

Mike Gundy is staying at Oklahoma State.  Larry Fedora is telling recruits he’s staying at North Carolina.  And the biggest slap in the face of all?  Charlie Strong rejected the Vols… to stay at Louisville.  How much does that sting?  Plenty.

But the rejection by Strong, assuming he doesn’t change his mind in the next few hours, should be a warning sign to Vol Nation. The Louisville coach just decided he’d be better off staying there than going to Tennessee.

Let that one sink in for a minute. In 1998, the year Tennessee last won a national title, Louisville was opening Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and just beginning its rise in Conference USA as a nice launching pad for coaches to go onto bigger jobs. John L. Smith won some games and eventually went to Michigan State. Bobby Petrino won even bigger and went to the NFL. Athletic director Tom Jurich hired and quickly fired Steve Kragthorpe from Tulsa before picking off Strong, a journeyman SEC assistant that nobody in that league would hire for a lead job…

But the idea that Tennessee can’t steal Louisville’s coach is almost unthinkable. Forget the perceived differences between the ACC (where Louisville is headed in 2014) and the SEC. Forget that on Monday Strong publicly complained that Louisville didn’t come close to filling its 55,000-seat stadium for Senior Day with a team that was 9-1 at the time. Strong, at his core, is an SEC guy. He coached at Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and South Carolina. He knows that league. He loves that league. And given an opportunity to take what is supposed to be one of that league’s best jobs, he decided to stay.

That says a lot about Louisville, but it says even more about Tennessee right now.

Ouchy ouch.  Is Tennessee one of the SEC’s best jobs right now?  Beats me.  It’s not as if SOD left the program on incredibly firm footing (other than getting a handle on those pesky personal hygiene problems).  But Tennessee is a proudly historical program with a large fan base that will put the money out if motivated.  You’d think that would be enough to draw in an attractive candidate.  That hasn’t happened, though.  And it’s not just this immediate search, either.  Dooley was far from the first choice after the Laner left.  And Kiffin wasn’t exactly a quality hire, either.

Where Hart goes from here is hard to say.  Petrino is sitting around, desperately waiting for a phone call that he’ll get if Hart’s level of desperation rises to match Motorcycle Man’s.  Kirby Smart’s flirted with a few schools at this point, but it’s hard to say his demands are something UT’s willing to match.  Besides, he’s never been a head coach and the Vols just canned a Saban acolyte.  Is Hart willing to hold his nose and grab an overachiever from a mid-major?  Again, he just fired a mid-major hire.

The depressing thing if you’re a Tennessee fan is that it’s not like this was a decision that snuck up on the school.  Hart had to have pondered a SOD dismissal for a while now, yet here he sits working on Plan B C D E F.  Darn shame, I say.

121 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

121 responses to “The Tennessee coaching search – cautionary tale, or pass the popcorn?

  1. gastr1

    Spurrier would be a good fit to coach in Knoxville. That part of the state, though, is not for everyone, if you get my drift.

  2. Krautdawg

    Kenny Chesney may be available. Will sell out the stadium too.

  3. Brandon

    The lure of historic Papa John’s stadium is very strong and not easily countered.

    • TennesseeDawg

      Papa is worth $600 million. Tennessee was bring a knife to a gun fight in this bidding war

      • Ben

        That’s why those pizza prices are about to go up. Not Obamacare.

        • Go Dawgs!

          If Strong staying at the U of L means I have to pay 50 cents for an extra garlic sauce, Charlie Strong needs to take his ass on down to Tennessee.

          • Ben

            Ha! I’m sure you’re kidding, but if you remember how valuable points were for us against a Strong-coached defense, I imagine you’d be happy to pay an extra $1 for garlic sauce at Papa John’s!

  4. Tom

    The problems at Tn start with the administration and prospective coaches are very aware of that. The organization has not been supportive of the football program and has led to its decline over the past 10 years. The athletics department reports to the university chancelor and the chancelor answers to the academic side of the university. He is not bought in to the athletics. Money that the program brings in is given to the university and not used in the athletics department, leading to reduced budgets for staff, recruiting, and facilities. This is what happens to a program when the academics take over. Not to say academics are not important, but this is a case of trying to have your cake and eat it. The problems go way beyond just finding a good coach. The desertion of SOD’s staff last year were not all about Dooley.

    Mr. Hart has a big job in front of him trying to make the changes necessary to hire a good coach. Look at Vanderbilt. They are making the changes and moving in a positive direction. Tn better wake up if they want to be a player in SEC football again.

    Thank God for McGarity and Richt!

    • AthensHomerDawg

      As of now the university is allowing the athletics department to keep that revenue and apply it to the program in hopes of getting out of the red and buying a new coach.

    • Comin' Down The Track

      So by that logic, UT is either going to turn into Vanderbilt or Georgia Tech.

      I can live with that.

    • wnc dawg

      Not disagreeing about Hart having to make significant changes, but the other stuff is a bit off base I think. UT has the largest recruiting budget in the country, Hamilton secured funding for facilities improvements (which is about the only thing he was good at doing), and introduced the much higher asst coach salaries and multi-year deals to the SEC. Commitment/Resources are not as big of an issue.

      The issues are where you are starting from and who you are starting against. It’s similar to UGA in the 90′s- there are rivals that are rolling right now and can you really catch them in the 3 years you are going to get before they fire you? I know I am biased, but UGA is a top 10 job nationally I think. And we had to go the poor football school coach (Mason), mid-major (Donnan), and the hot asst (Richt) route for our coaches b/c UT and FL had the market in the East cornered (insert Dooley’s ability to evaluate coaching talent joke here). UT is most likely not going to grab a big name. At this particular moment in history, they are going to probably get a solid up and comer that hopefully fulfills his and the program’s potential.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Great point about Dooley evaluating the coaching talent. Mason was a huge embarrassment and we scrambled to get a great recruiter to fill in for him. But Hart didn’t exactly hit home runs with his coaching hires while he was at FSU did he? Not his strength. Did I read that UT AD was operating in the red and that the university was gonna pass on the cash in hopes of getting football back on its feet with those funds? Their facilities kinda reminds me of all the effort put into the Athens downtown gameday condo’s. All dressed up and no one to dance with. UT has run off into a ditch and may not get their 4-wheeler unstuck in time to do anything meaningful this decade.

    • NC Dawg

      “This is what happens to a program when the academics take over.”
      Sorry, that’s just such a great sound byte.

  5. Brandon

    Tennessee is a great example of what happens when you let the crazy portion of your fanbase take over your program. Who in the hell wants to go be a coach at a school that fired a coach who won a national championship, had won 75% of his games over a dozen years and was an alumni and a former player to boot. Tennessee just had a string of offensive coordinators who didn’t pan out after Cutcliffe and that was essentially the majority of the problem, they were unfortunate enough to have a time period of poor player leadership at the same time, Fulmer hadn’t forgotten how to coach, they would have bounced back if he’d have hired a decent OC, now their problems are way the hell worse than they ever dreamed. A prospective coach has to ask himself what do these people want? Not to mention at this point in time you are stepping into a job that is a reclamation project and the school is a competitive disadvantage in recruiting compared to most of its rivals. UT is most definately a cautionary tale to take the longview and not get caught up in “downward trajectory” type talk.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      +1
      I do suspect that the Pumpkin King has started to get a bit lax/lazy. That can bite you.

    • Irwin R Fletcher

      Agree. Tennessee is a ‘historical’ program, for sure…but that history for the past 30 was that they did it the Tennessee way and they did it with Tennessee men. They had established a formula of success in recruiting and winning that hid the clear and obvious disadvantages of being in Eastern Tennessee. Fulmer was an ace recruiter…he did things in Atlanta that coaches in Auburn, Bama, and Georgia could only wish to do.

      But the stupid pundits put him at #3 in the nation in 2005 to start the season…and they lost games@#6 Florida, #5Georgia, @#5 Bama, and @#8 Notre Dame. In a span of 7 games, they played 5 teams in the top 10 and lost 4 of those games. Most of the losses were close and respectable. That season ruined him among the crazies….think 2008 UGA where a top 10 finish is lambasted like a failure.

    • Cojones

      It can happen to any school. Like UGA, for example. Lack of understanding what transpires when teams have bad luck (like our injury problem 6 yrs ago) can get fans started on this path without any reasoning as to why. These seminal moves toward avalanches of ire are quirky, dependent upon luck/bad luck and how closely one looks at the true problems. Instead of support, coaches and admins find themselves facing lynch mobs at the slightest provocation.

      Most times, Brutus, the problem be us acting as avalanche promoters instead of joining in to help stop it.

  6. TennesseeDawg

    Also working in Louisville’s favor is Strong felt slighted especially by some SEC schools because he felt no one would give him a chance because he had a white wife. Louisville gave him that chance and Strong has always been known as a stand up guy. I think he felt some loyalty at Louisville plus Tennessee has been very good at getting everyone else a raise somewhere else.

  7. Bob

    I just hope that folks who are ready to fire Mark Richt every time the sky is cloudy take heed. I cannot imagine dealing with this unmitigated disaster.

    • Skeptic Dawg

      You thought process is completely wrong. You do not hold on to a coach that is underachieving year after year due to fear. There is an adminstration to ensure the next guy is successful. I can not speak to Hart at UT, but I have faith in McGarity and his team. I wanted Richt gone due to the state of the program over the last 5-6 years. Richt was responsible for bringing this program down to Donnan like numbers over that time period. Yes, he righted the ship, something I did not think he was capable of. But failing to act out of fear will only drive a program down even further. That is an attitude of failure. Period.

      • Are you suggesting to fire Richt now? If you’ll recall, Richt was on the proverbial hot seat before McGarity got the job. Did you trust Damon Evans to find the right man? If so, you’re judgment of his judgment is quite optimistic.

        Hart didn’t hire Kiffin or Dooley. Yet this is the third time UT has gone through getting shot down by a bunch of coaches since Fulmer was fired. This is a Tennessee issue, not a Dave Hart issue. That’s because of an impatient, whiney fan base that didn’t know what they had until it was gone. Every program has ups and downs.

        It’s ludicrous to say we should (or should have in the past) fire Richt. Fulmer at UT and even Cutliffe at Ole Miss is a great example of what can happen to a program when a whiney, impatient fan base gets their way.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          I am not suggesting Richt get the boot now. If you had asked me that from 2006-2011, my answer would have been different. The downward spiral finally came to a head in 2010. It appears Richt has corrected his errors and the program seems to be on solid ground again. My point was simple, failure to act out of fear will never breed success.

          • SCarolinaDawg

            In that case, you should quit your job immeadiately. What’s that? You make 200k and have nice benefits. But being a clerk at Krorger has a chance to lead to great things. Slight chance maybe, but to act out of fear will never breed success.

        • Cojones

          A-the friggin’-men.

      • Dawgfan Will

        My mind just exploded.

      • SCarolinaDawg

        “Richt was responsible for bringing this program down to Donnan like numbers over that time period.”

        Hmm, so if Donnan was the coach before Richt, and Richt brought the program down to Donnan numbers 8 years after he was hired, then I wonder what that means for the 8 years before that? You must want to fire Richt to have the same success we had after firing Donnan. Man, that is some pretty messed up logic. I’d hate to be around you when you’re hung over.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          You have missed my original point all together. As I stated above, failure to act out of fear will never breed success.

          • SCarolinaDawg

            Nah, I’m pretty sure I understood your point. You take a chance sticking with a coach with a losing record, just like you take a chance finding a new coach. There is some level of fear in both.

            • The difference is if you’re staying with him because you’re convinced he can turn things around, that’s fine. If you’re sticking with him just because you’re afraid of dealing with the aftermath if you do fire him, that’s a failure of leadership. Skeptic’s right.

              • SCarolinaDawg

                And how would either of you know which way the decision makers at Georgia were thinking in 2009-2011? I would be willing to bet you that they were thinking the former. Skeptic’s wrong.

                • I’m not presuming to know what anyone was thinking. I’m just saying that Skeptic’s right in making the general point about management.

                  • SCarolinaDawg

                    “You do not hold on to a coach that is underachieving year after year due to fear. There is an adminstration to ensure the next guy is successful. I can not speak to Hart at UT, but I have faith in McGarity and his team.”

                    “Richt was responsible for bringing this program down to Donnan like numbers over that time period. Yes, he righted the ship, something I did not think he was capable of.”

                    Skeptic was giving factual rebuttals to his own arguments in the first post. Some of his sentences may have been correct in his postings (such as an administration not wanting to deal with firing a guy). But at no point has anyone said that’s why Richt wasn’t fired. His overall argument was wrong. There is fear in every decision. And it’s ironic someone with the name SkepticDawg is trying to lecture on the word fear.

              • Skeptic Dawg

                The Senator has it correctly. Thank you.

                • SCarolinaDawg

                  Maybe I’ll say it better defending Bob’s original post. You say we should have fired Richt when things were trending down. Taking into account the possibility of failure, in trying to find a more successful new coach, is very appropriate to the decision making process. One that many, including the Senator, promote routinely. It isn’t the only thing you take into account, though, which is I believe what you seem to be missing.

                  • Macallanlover

                    And that is the key point. For once Skeptic has made a statement that is irrefutable, to me, you don’t tolerate failure of leadership. The elephant in the room is, “who did”? The decision makers evaluated all factors, most of them we are simply not privy to, and decided Mark Richt was th ebest man to change the trend of 2-3 years below the average of what he, himself, had led the program to. Early results say, that was the correct decision because they didn’t knee-jerk the call and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

                    There are some inexcusable actions that you terminate someone for immediately, the others you evaluate and make an informed decision on the overall picture. None of us are in the position to know all the factors the AD knew/knows. Doesn’t stop anyone from having an opinion, or getting behind a keyboard and screaming it to the world. I understand people having concerns when things go south, or sideways. It is the way so many have expressed this that bothers me most, and their unwillingness to credit the positives when earned. Leaders that have proven successful in the past deserve better than the continual ranting we have seen. The AD and BOT decided to stay the course because it seemed more likely to succeed than firing CMR and beginning a search for another HC.

                    Can we ever just move along? Probably not because so many have put themselves in a position where it is difficult to retreat and lose face. They shouldn’t have been so extreme and impulsive, imo. Just hide behind a new handle, like Brenda Lee (“I’m Sorry”). This is not to say support will not be questioned again and again in the future because things will not rosy every year, let’s just hope it is a more reasoned discussion in the future.

                    • ScoutDawg

                      Crazy that Damon is such a devil now… YES, he made some poor choices, much like Joyridingdawg with her yellowhammer post, but at least he was drunk and didn’t wreck his car. Some people also hate his scheduling methods, yet if the Bulldawgs had been strong and won those games we should have; OKstate and Boise, he would have been a genius. A terrible end for a DGD, too bad there was no Arky st., or Northern ALa., for disgraced AD’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a McGarity man, I just don’t get the level of vitriol for ex AD DE.

                    • Mayor of Dawgtown

                      Sorry Scout but Damon was a bad AD. He let the Athletic Department slip during his tenure. The best thing that could of happened for UGA athletics and football in particular was what happened. From what I have heard privately the red panties incident was inevitable as he had been doing that type of thing with impunity ever since he got the job as AD. The guy was a total dumbass. The bigger question is where was Mike Adams while all this was going on? Was he a liar who knew about it all along and did nothing or so out of touch that he didn’t know about what one of his main school officials was doing right under his nose? Either is a damning indictment of Adams. Glad that guy is leaving soon, too. The sooner the better.

      • NC Dawg

        Gawd, here we go …

        • A bit late to this party, but I’m with you. It’d be nice if this debate could at least be held off again until we lose the bowl game or something.

    • Debby Balcer

      +1000000

  8. Mudcat's Impala....

    Have you checked out the message boards at Volnation, Volchat etc?? Fully half of their fanbase still think Gruden is coming. This vid kinda sums it up….. NSFW, a lil cussin’…

    Grudemonium, a synopsis of UT message boards the last 4 weeks…

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/WovrPXMm3LQ?rel=0%22

  9. Go Dawgs!

    I just keep thinking back… if the 13 men on defense play hadn’t happened against LSU… if the clock disaster hadn’t happened in the bowl against UNC… maybe Dooley would have banked enough good will to save his job for another year. He didn’t necessarily do a terrible job there. He just got handed a dumpster fire and made a few bad choices in recruiting. It’s too bad.

    But man, am I enjoying watching UT wallow in misery. They’ll get a coach, and probably a good one, but they’ve already been embarrassed by this process and the only way to wipe away the memory of that embarrassment would be a Saban-level hire, and I don’t think it’s happening. Tennessee is a great job if things are going well. It’s a tough, tough job otherwise. You’ve got all the facilities you could ever want, but you’ve got to get your players from elsewhere. It’s not easy to poach players from Georgia and Florida when the programs there are winning and yours isn’t.

    Kirby Smart is a big risk. We have no idea if he will be a successful head coach at the highest level. He could pay off as big as Muschamp has at Florida (and for the ‘Dawgs… you mad, Mike?) or he could be another flop. UT can’t afford another flop.

    I personally don’t want to see Petrino there, because I think he’s a home run hire. Hiring him is an embarrassment… but UT has already reached that level of humiliation. He’s the only choice. Pick up the phone, Dave.

    • PatinDC

      I think Kirby doesn’t want to takte the risk at UT.

      • Will (the other one)

        Kirby interviewed at Auburn which, while not the dumpster fire UT is in terms of talent decline (Bray and the WRs are gone), is facing an unknown amount of NCAA punishment.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I don’t think young SOD was ready for prime time. The whole shower protocol, bamboo growing, the Germans, DuhRick package deal/cop stomp, Tyler Bray……… he was in over his head. I had hoped he would be successful.
      I once watched in amazement as the vice president of a development firm handed a 15 million dollar apartment complex project off to a project manager that had a good track record in building strip malls. Apples and oranges. Didn’t work out and in six months he was removed from the project. VP didn’t fare so well either.

  10. For a guy like Strong to choose Louisville over Tennessee, I think it says more about the upward trajectory of Louisville’s program. They don’t have all the bells and whistles and tradition of UT, but from a football standpoint, Louisville is in a much better spot than UT. Charlie Strong obviously thinks so. It shows that some of these mid major teams out there that we poke fun at could possibly in 10 to 15 years be relevant.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Charlie Strong is a loyal man. I can’t tell you how much I respect that and how glad I am that he’s not coaching in the SEC. I think he’d be a dangerous player if he had more tools to work with.

      Louisville’s rise is a big part of what scares me about Bobby Petrino coming to Tennessee. John L. and some of the other people before him started U of L’s rise, but Petrino is the guy that put them firmly into the nation’s consciousness. They’re benefitting from the conference realignment mess around them, obviously, but I believe that Petrino’s the guy that made them a big-time program. I want no part of him at Tennessee, especially if he finds someone to coach his defense.

    • wnc dawg

      It is also a heck of a lot easier to Q for a 4 team playoff from the ACC than the SEC. With Bama being the cross division game, UT is just in a world of hurt trying to get off the snide.

      • It’s really not THAT surprising that Strong stayed at Louisville…I mean hell GT got into the ACC champ game this year. Problem with UT as that they and their fans don’t realize that times change. Knoxville and east TN aren’t exactly the place a black guy wants to raise his family IMO, and 1998 is a long time ago. Except for maybe Stewart Mandel and his pocket Montanan, I don’t think anyone really considers UT to be a top job anymore.

  11. Is Tennessee one of the SEC’s best jobs?

    Here’s how I would rank ‘em currently:
    1-4) Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia
    5-9) Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, Arkansas
    10-14) Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Missouri, Vandy, Kentucky

    If Texas A&M has continued success in the conference under Sumlin, I could see them joining the top ranks, especially considering they have the Texas recruiting base largely to themselves within the conference. Tennessee has the money, but they don’t have home-grown talent like the top 4-5. With the success Saban is having in ATL, Tennessee’s go-to place has largely dried up. Where does UT go for talent these days?

    • Normaltown Mike

      USC might be #5 on that list as they have a sadistic fan base that demonstrated for decades that it will pay just as much money to watch a wretched product as a good one. Plus they don’t have an in-state juggernaut rival like TAMU and AU have to contend with.

      • USC has the fanbase, but they lack in tradition, and they lack in natural talent. A&M has a similar fanbase, more tradition, and much more in-state talent, but you have to live in College Station. You could argue about the exact rankings, so that’s why I went with tiers. Where they are in those tiers could be argued reasonably either way.

      • Will (the other one)

        Well, while the chickens have owned Dabo and Auburn with a Lake recently, traditionally Clem’s Son has been the better football school in the state. Not on Bama or Texas’s level, but that “chicken curse” talk didn’t show up out of nowhere.

    • I’d put Auburn and SC over UT at this point in prestige jobs, and when it comes to actually KEEPING your job I’d probably put some of the others ahead of the Vols. You can coach at some of the lesser schools for years without getting fired by orange wearing mobs that think it’s still 20 years ago.

  12. Rick Starr

    Tennessee is the hardest job to coach at in the SEC. First off, you have a dilusional fanbase with too high of expectations. You do not have a great high school football program in your state to pick from. You have to recruit nation wide. Also, you have to play the DAWGS, the lizards, the lamecocks, and bama every year.

    • First off, you have a dilusional fanbase with too high of expectations.

      I agree with your other points, but in fairness the “delusional fanbase with too high of expectations” point really could apply to every major program in the SEC.

      • Harvey Updyke

        What the hell is that supposed to mean?

        • evolveddeepsoutherner

          I understood him fine. All the top-tier SEC teams have done so well that to have a “good” (by the vast majority of other schools’ standards) year every once in a while has the fans calling for coaches’ asses.

  13. Macallanlover

    I thought Cutcliffe was the best option from the start, never felt Gruden was a great hire, especially at the cost and risk involved. Love Strong as a coordinator but not 100% sold on him as a HC, that was a weak finish against a weak schedule. Obviously I am wrong about that as someone thinks he is worth $4.7MM. My choices after Cutcliffe would have exploring Gundy, Peterson, or Franklin. Petrino has probably risen to a must hire now, but would not have been on my original list.

    • WF dawg

      Like you, I think a lot of Cutcliffe. I’m just not sure he’s ready to dive back in to the pressure cooker of the SEC. He’ll coach at Duke as long as he wants to, where it will be hard to underachieve relative to expectations. I think he’s there til he retires.

      • Cojones

        I felt that Strong was an average D coach at FU and not sure if he already isn’t in up to his neck. You need to look at some of FU’s losses after the first NC for proof. They occurred because of poor D.

      • Yeah, I thought Cutcliffe had health issues that made him being at a less stressful place a good idea?

    • sniffer

      Mac, either Hart made the calls a month ago, or he is part of the problem. Surely he called to see if those coaches were interested. Apperently, they are not. Does he give Chizic a look? That may seem ridiculous, but, when you think it through, not so much. He could do a lot worse. That thought just made me smile.

      • Macallanlover

        Boy, I wouldn’t consider Cheatzik, didn’t think he was a good hire at AU but he did have some ties to that area. In addition to his questionable resume’ as a head coach going into Auburn, he now has a couple of NCAA investigations on the record. Many get blinded by the fact he won the SEC two years ago, and the BCS bowl, but his record without Cam is awful,,,,,with or without Iowa State.

        WF, I agree Cut is probably staying until he is ready to hang it up but other than the health issue he had, TN has to look at him as a very attractive candidate. I would put my efforts into changing his mind before I would chase Gruden, Strong, etc. as hard as they have. Desperate times in KnoxVegas, I think I would send the plane to Durham with Peyton on it.

  14. JCB

    UT’s mistake was pursuing Gundy. First off, what has he done other than yelling to a reporter that he’s a 40 year old man? Sure his team can score points, but they sure as hell can’t play D. Looks like UT. Second, he’s a OKSt lifer. No way he was going anywhere.

    As to Strong, he’s a solid coach and they should have pursued him. But once they realized he was just using them to get more money from UL, they should have walked.

    Gruden was a pipe dream, but there was no serious attempt.

    So Hart f’ed up by even thinking about Gundy and showing too much interest in Strong.

    UT was/is the best job available this year. Nothing has changed. Aub is more of a mess. Ark is not UT.

    The Tenn talkboards are hysterical right now. Lunacy. The best was the argument that Aub got their guy and Ark got their guy. No way in hell Malzahn was choice No.1 for Aub. And Ark got turned down by at least three guys: Gruden, Gundy and Jones.

    Anway, see UGA fans who called for Richt’s firing. Be happy.

  15. Normaltown Mike

    Not to quibble, but didn’t Vandy show interest in Strong and he told them “don’t call me, i”ll call you” as he felt it better to wait for the right job instead of the first job?

  16. stoopnagle

    I think the quote from the article is a bit unfair to L’ville and Charlie Strong: L’ville has shown up in two BCS bowls since UT’s last appearance and Strong is hardly a “journeyman” assistant. The only reason he stayed an assistant so long has already been mentioned. L’ville stepped out there where other teams wouldn’t and Strong showed some love back. Gotta respect that – you just hope it doesn’t come back to haunt him like it did Cristobal.

    I think the key to the UT situation is poor leadership. I don’t know the ends and outs of how they run their AD, but Hart went up against Jurich and got schooled. I think anyone paying attention to athletics administration could have seen that coming a mile away – just like how we all know that Colorado is going to have a hard time bringing in a good coach. It starts with the president and the AD. They have to be on the same page and they have to be smart. UT and CU don’t have that right now. Just like Maryland. So use that for your template: expect an Edsall type hire at UT.

    I, for one, couldn’t be happier that Strong isn’t coming back to the SEC East. That’s awesome news to me as a Georgia guy.

    I think we’re spot on about Kirby: no way they go the Sabanite/UGA alum route (again). Is there a viable Tennessee guy out there with proven recruiting skills?

    (FWIW, I think Butch Jones will end up there).

  17. UGA70

    Seriously, what would James Franklin do if he got a call from Dave Hart? How would the UTk fans react? While I don’t care for him personally, based on his low-class actions against us in 2011, he would be a heck of lot higher on my list for consideration than Petrino. Plus I appreciated his final BCS rankings of Bama #2 and UGA #3.

  18. Bulldog Joe

    Both Coach Richt and Coach Donnan were hired on December 26. No need for Tennessee to panic.

  19. Dante

    I remember a certain program that fired a coach who was only a head coach because of who is daddy is. That institution was publicly turned down by another coach so he could stay at a lesser school. That institution went out and hired Nick Saban and I’ll bet the Bama faithful are very very very happy these days to have dodged Dick Rod as a head coach. I’m not saying Tennessee will pick up the next Saban, but they are still very capable of landing a great coach.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      “I remember a certain program that fired a coach who was only a head coach because of who is daddy is.”—–Nonsense…. Shula had been a O coordinator in the NFL at that point and at one time a 3 year starting qb for the Tide. He stung Georgia and Auburn with late come back victories. He was well thought of in Alabama. He coaches qb’s for the Carolina Panthers now?
      I guess if you and I were playing baseball and you were at bat with an unlimited number of swings you would be very capable of getting a great hit. Hart got the boot at FSU for a number of reasons and one was his poor coach selections. He is the one in the drivers seat that has his hand in this debacle in the Knoxvegas. It’s not like he thought SOD was gonna pull the whole thing together and he could breathe a sigh of relief. From the Lame to SOD and Hamilton to Hart…. it’s been a circus and nothing gives me the feeling that it will get better anytime soon.

      • Dante

        He was the OC for Dungy’s Bucs team, which was legendary for its mix of pitiful offense and awesome defense. He was fired over how poorly that offense did. Yeah, that sounds like a great resume for a head coach. “Hey, I kept my former team out of the Super Bowl and set back Dungy’s quest for a ring by about a decade. Pick me! Pick me!” After his Bama stint, he went back to the only position he was ever really qualified for: QB coach, this time in Jacksonville. After someone in Jacksonville’s head office came back from vacation after a few years and noticed their dumpster of a team was on fire, Shula got fired along with the rest of the Del Rio clan and ended up in Carolina where he has admittedly gotten some good performance out of one of the best athletes to ever play college football.

  20. dudetheplayer

    They’re just trying to keep the seat warm for Peyton. All part of the plan.

  21. TheLifeOfReilly

    Yeah… Darn shame. Bwahahahaha!
    Very happy that Strong is staying at U of L. Keeps the chance of him being the HC for UGA sometime on the future.

  22. NC Dawg

    Hey, Bluto.
    Have you ever daydreamed about the posts that might have been had this site been around back in the Goff/Donnan days?

    • Go to the UT blogs and message boards and I think he’ll find his answer. I live in Nashville and UT fans are about to lose it right now.

  23. AusDawg85

    Prediction: Rick Nueheisel to TN.

    • UGA70

      Actually that’s not a bad suggestion and while he wants to get back into coaching, I think he wants it to be back on the left coast. But with the right offer, who knows.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Neuheisel made some very positive comments about UT on the radio today–more positive than I thought were necessary to be polite IMHO.

  24. Will Trane

    Not really keen on UT’s coaching search. More interested in why our defense has trouble with the running game this season, and will it carry over to next year’s heavy schedule. I questions about Rodney Garner to get his D line players up to speed. When was the last All American we had on the D line. Then there is McClendon. No doubt those frosh tailbacks have done a very good job. The one time we had an issue with one of them was on the last play when they failed to make the block to clear the LB and the passing lane. But we have had that issue before.
    If Trooper Taylor is available, make that a hire.
    If Southern Miss take Bobo, what will the Dawgs do? My suggestion…well Southern Miss should consider that hire long and hard. If he goes, do whatever it takes McGarity and Richt to hire Pease from Florida.
    UT and Southern Miss coaching suggestion. Take a peek at the HC and staff at San Jose.
    There are coaches other than Strong and Petrino. Not sure about UT culture and direction re football, but they sure have a huge stadium and fan base. If the AD and the academic side of the insitution can not come to some consensus, then they have deep seated issues…primarily stupid…a lot of revenue can be raised in that program, but academia never seems to understand the business part of the world. They think it is all “house money” and it will always be there.

  25. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Picking up on an excellent series of earlier posts:

    UT is a total train wreck right now. Think about the coaches that athletic department has kicked to the curb, at least in those former coaches estimation:

    Johnny Majors
    Phil Fulmer
    Pat Freakin’ Summit

    There’s no cohesion within the department. Hart could have “brought the family together,” but instead he bungled the Summit ending. Somehow, the Vols have leveraged every former success into a liability – and then heaped even more liabilities on top.

    Worst-run athletic department in the SEC, maybe the South. You would have to be an idiot to take a job there now. Strong’s got enough SEC connections to recognize a job killer when he sees one.

    • Pat Summit has dementia and Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t remember how her departure was handled… (too soon? too soon.)

      • evolveddeepsoutherner

        Yeah, always too soon for that one, Dawg. In any crowd of a certain age, the “d” and “A” words will always hit too close to the bone.

        About somebody super-shitty, maybe. But not Summit, unless she’s done some super-shitty things I’ve never heard of.

  26. UT is down to its last choice now, if I was AD Hart, I would give Fulmer another shot again, Phil used to whip the DAWGS pretty bad!

    • If he could get Chavis and Cutcliffe back then that would actually be a decent move. But I don’t know how much actual coaching old Phil was doing in his last years at UT.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Fulmer is almost 63 and hasn’t coached in 5 years. He’s so out of touch that by the time he got to where he could find his ass with both hands he’d have to retire because of age.

  27. Ed Kilgore

    When a program badly needing stability–and willing to match anyone’s financial offer–is already on its fifth choice for HC, it is indeed time to panic, because it appears none of the “stabilizing” coaches will come until there’s stability. A real trap, eh? No wonder Fulmer was actually the front-runner in the latest reader poll at RockyTopTalk (Butch Jones, reportedly the latest target, came in at a booming 4%, which means he’d probably begin with about the same fan-base confidence level as SOD).

    • I’m still kinda torn on Dooley, I think they should have given him one more year. Though in a personal anecdote, my mom was a partner in one of the bigger law firms in Atlanta and they hired Dooley basically so someone could get some good tickets but the general consensus was that he was a collosal idiot at least when it came to lawyering…

      • Ed Kilgore

        Remember those photos of all those empty orange seats at the Troy game, which UT won? That doomed Dooley if nothing else did. At the height of the “Fire Richt” furor, Georgia fans did not stop coming to games.

  28. On another topic, is the new playoff system going to affect the non BCS bowl contracts because I’m sure freaking sick of playing mediocre Big 10 teams year after freaking year?