The coaches in this category are head coaches who are fast on the rise and may be looking to take that next big step to coach a Power Five school like Tennessee. These coaches may not have as much experience as some of the bigger names, but they’re hot commodities who are believed to have high ceilings.
Quick Bio: Just two short years ago, Justin Fuente was in the state of Tennessee as a head coach. Last season, he accepted the position as Virginia Tech’s head coach, and the Vols faced him in his second ever game as the Hokies’ head coach, defeating Tech 45-24 in the Battle at Bristol. But Fuente has had success since then at Tech, and he had success at Memphis too.
Pros: Fuente has quickly gained attention for the job he’s done at Virginia Tech. He took over after legendary coach Frank Beamer and the Hokies parted ways, and he’s earned a 17-7 record in his 24 games as head coach of the Hokies. He also led Memphis to a 26-23 record in his four seasons there, including a 10-3 record and 9-3 mark in his last two seasons.
Cons/Questions: Fuente’s buyout is huge, and it’s because of that he is highly unlikely to move anywhere after just two seasons with Virginia Tech. His buyout is $6 million if he’s hired before December 15th of this year. Add that to the reported $8 million buyout for Jones, and that becomes very costly for Tennessee.
Quick Bio: P.J. Fleck first appeared on people’s radars when he led Western Michigan to back-to-back eight win seasons in 2014 and 2015. He then helped them to a 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl appearance in 2016 before taking the job at Minnesota prior to this season.
Pros: Fleck has sky-rocketed to national attention over the last few years. He is a young, energetic coach how has a very high ceiling.
Cons/Questions: If you hated all the cliches Butch Jones used, then P.J. Fleck is not for you. Fleck uses just as many if not more catchphrases and slogans as Jones. And he isn’t proven at a big time school just yet either.