This has to be one of the most frustrating times to be a fan of a college sports program or to work in that school’s athletic department. Since Tennessee fired Butch Jones a few weeks ago, they have had miss after miss in trying to name their new head man. While teams like Florida have already gotten their new coach, Tennessee has gone through seemingly endless problems in trying to find Jones’ replacement. Here is a list of candidates that have not worked out.
Duke’s David Cutcliffe said no.
Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said no, even though Tennessee would’ve made him the highest paid coach in the SEC.
Purdue’s Jeff Brohm was reportedly targeted, then falsely reported that he was going to be given the job (which really broke my heart, Brohm is a heck of a coach and I really wanted him out of West Lafayette so the Boilermakers can be bad again).
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was considered.
SMU’s Chad Morris was called about the job, no word if he said “no” or if Tennessee decided he wasn’t a fit.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was reportedly considered.
And worst of all, Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was announced as the hire, but Tennessee students protested his hiring so hard that the Vols athletic department backed out.
So the reason Tennessee students were protesting Greg Schiano’s hire was because he was a coach at Penn State during the whole Jerry Sandusky business that rocked the college football world. Allegedly, according to court documents, Schiano had witnessed Sandusky do something to a boy in a shower, briefly mentioned it to former Penn State quarterback Mike McQueary, and then did nothing after that. This was both a social media protest and a physical protest, which you can see below:
Yeah, that’s going to be hard to ignore if you’re trying to make a guy the face of your football program. Both Schiano’s former employer and current employer Penn State and Ohio State, respectively, have come to the defense of Schiano’s character. Penn State has even come out and said Schiano had nothing to do with the Sandusky situation, but that still has Tennessee taking the safe route and backing out on their hire of him. As of this writing, Tennessee is still without a head football coach.
This might be the first time that I’ve ever seen a team back out from a coach, especially the very day he was announced as the hire. Schiano had basically signed on the dotted line but because of these protests from Tennessee fans, they took the safe route and changed their minds. I really do feel bad for Schiano in this scenario. Hear me out. Before I get into this, I should preface this by saying obviously child molestation or any form of sexual assault is horrifying and Sandusky totally deserved what he got. What I’m about to say may be a bit controversial and if I offend any of my readers, please tell me because the last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable as a reader. This is a really touchy subject that I’m going to try and word as carefully as humanly possible. But put yourself in Schiano’s, Hell even Joe Paterno’s, shoes in this situation. Sandusky was a close friend (I don’t know if he and Schiano were ever close, I was only 5 years old when Sandusky retired). Now close your eyes and picture your closest friend, someone who has been your ride-or-die for as long as you can remember. Now picture them doing what Sandusky did. Would you straight away go to the police in this situation? The right thing to do in this situation is of course, yes, you would go to the police. But if I picture any of my friends doing something like this, I’m not so sure I would go straight away to the police. I would probably end up doing what Paterno did and tell him to cut the shit. Hell in Schiano’s case, he did tell somebody, that being a young quarterback on the roster. And this happened 20 years ago. But because of the severity of what Sanudsky did, anybody who was linked to him is considered partly responsible. I find it really hard to blame Schiano or Paterno for what happened or loop them into the same boat as Sandusky because I’m not so sure I would have done anything differently, same goes for many other people. The right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing, in fact, more often than not the right thing is often the harder thing to do. But Sandusky had been close to these guys and they considered him a good friend, even though he really wasn’t because a good friend wouldn’t put them in this situation in the first place. But while Paterno passed away when the details of the scandal were still coming out, Schiano has to live with the repercussions and it just cost him the top job at a major college football program.
As for Tennessee’s coaching search, there are a few more options they can look at. Texas A&M just fired Kevin Sumlin, who I think could be a good replacement. He’s had good success at A&M in the past, they’d just been trending in the wrong direction the last couple years and it was time for a change. I think he can be really beneficial for their program. Jim McElwain could also be a guy to target, as he had been fired from Florida (a decision I disagreed with) midway through a down season following an appearance in the SEC title game. So despite not landing Schiano, there are still plenty of quality options on the market for the Volunteers without checkered pasts.
Well that blog got uncomfortable. Again, if you had any issue with what I said about the whole Sandusky situation, please let me know. I tried to word that as carefully as I could because it really is a subject you have to tiptoe around. Also, one last bit before I close this thing out, Tennessee really considered Jason Witten? You do realize he’s still the starting tight end of the Dallas Cowboys right? A guy that’s making $7.4 million to play a sport he loves and has been great at for 15 years? Okay, then. Good luck with that. Let me know what you think of Tennessee’s coaching situation in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.