1. The Search
Tennessee’s search for a head football coach in 2017 will be a story that will be talked about for years and decades after this year ends. And for good reason.
Vol fans had two weeks of speculation after Jones was fired. Hot boards, “Grumors,” and flight tracking took the Internet by storm for those two weeks, and Vol fans were optimistic Tennessee would be getting a “big time” coach this time around.
After two weeks of searching, Currie attempted to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as the Vols’ head coach. Schiano had ties to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and Vol fans revolted when they found out he was going to be the hire. Vol fans, former players, and even Tennessee politicians got in on the revolt. And despite both Schiano and Currie signing a Memorandum of Understanding, the hiring of Schiano was blocked.
And that was just the beginning of the madness, believe it or not.
After the social media standoff between UT’s administration and Vol fans, Currie and Tennessee’s administration seemed panicked and began interviewing and offering coaches left and right. Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State was the next target, but he turned down Tennessee. Then came the rumors that Jeff Brohm of Purdue was offered the job (even though that was never actually proven), then there was Dave Doeren of N.C. State. Doeren almost took the job, but he ended up staying with the Wolfpack instead.
Then Currie reportedly went rogue and flew out to the west coast to interview and offer the job to Mike Leach. And when that happened, Currie was called back to Tennessee and promptly relieved of his duties.
After that drama, Tennessee fans wanted someone they could trust as AD. And they got just that.
National championship-winning coach Phillip Fulmer was named Tennessee’s AD on the same day that Currie was suspended. And it took Fulmer less than a week to find a head coach, and he named Jeremy Pruitt as the Vols’ newest head football coach just six days on the job.
Tennessee’s 2017 coaching search has changed Tennessee’s athletics department permanently. And the implications of the Vols’ fan base overthrowing a hire are far-reaching and will be interesting to track as the years go on.
There were many crazy moments in 2017 that involved Tennessee athletics. But nothing came close to topping the nearly month-long search for a head football coach, and it will be nearly impossible for any story to top this one in the near future as well.