The national media has consistently lambasted Tennessee over how they handled their search for a head football coach. And Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports is one of those national media members.
Dodd released his winners and losers of the recent college football coaching carousel, and Tennessee was one of his losers, earning a grade of “F” for how they handled their coaching search.
“No matter what happens with Pruitt, the school has damaged its brand going forward,” Dodd writes. “When chosen hire Greg Schiano and now-former AD John Currie were run out of town, it reflected the worst about the unchecked ‘power’ of social media, the South’s football culture and knee-jerk fans. Someday, Tennessee has to realize what it is — perhaps the SEC’s sixth-best program.”
Dodd claims that Tennessee is “perhaps the SEC’s sixth-best program” despite the fact that the Vols have the ninth-most wins in college football history and are tied for the fifth-most SEC championship game appearances since the SEC Championship Game came into fruition in 1992. The Vols also have the third-most SEC East titles since the division split of the SEC in 1992.
The Vols have fallen from grace over the last decade. Tennessee has averaged just 6.2 wins per season since the end of the 2007 season and just suffered their worst season in program history. But the tradition is still there, and the pedigree of success is still there as well.
Dodd also fails to acknowledge that Currie’s dismissal was his own fault, not the fault of Tennessee’s fans. Currie went after a coach whom nobody wanted and then went rogue to try and sign Mike Leach without the university’s approval.
Tennessee did bungle their coaching search this year, however. John Currie and UT’s administration wanted to make a hire that no Vol fan wanted, and when that fell through they panicked. The week after Greg Schiano’s failed hiring was convoluted and full of confusion. The result of that ended up getting Currie suspended and Phillip Fulmer named as his replacement.
Fulmer didn’t even need a week of searching to settle on Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as the Vols’ next head football coach. And that put an end to what was an extremely hectic search for a head coach at Tennessee.
Most Vol fans are happy with the result of Tennessee’s coaching search regardless of how they got there. But Tennessee did make a mess of their search for a head coach regardless of the outcome.