On Wednesday of last week, former Tennessee coach and current radio host Doug Mathews said that he believed UT’s hiring of an offensive coordinator is 95 percent done. On Sunday, Mathews stated that the decision has been made on who to hire, but there’s no hurry to announce it.
Mathews coached with current Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee, and the two still have a relationship to this day. Mathews hosts a weekly sports talk radio show on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville called Big Orange Sunday, and on this Sunday’s show he stated that UT knows who they’re hiring, but they’re holding off on making an announcement.
“The guy they want to hire, the decision has been made on that from the University of Tennessee standpoint,” Mathews stated. “Yeah, they’re interviewing some people, but that decision’s been made. I said Wednesday it was 95 percent done. There’s some things to work out. Maybe they’ve already been worked out. There’s no hurry to hire this person. The person they’ve got identified and the person Coach Pruitt wants, again, I think that’s a done deal.
“Why are they waiting to say something about it? I don’t know. Didn’t ask, don’t want to know.”
Pruitt has reportedly met with a few candidates over the last few days, chief of which being Houston offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. But according to Mathews, there’s already been a decision made on the hire, and the interviews may not reflect the direction Tennessee is thinking of going.
Mathews would go on later in the show to say that there could be any number of reasons why the hire hasn’t been announced yet, but he’s adamant that a decision has been made despite UT holding off on an announcement.
“The guy may still be coaching somewhere,” Mathews explained. “It may be someone that has a contract that has to be worked out, a buyout. It may be somebody out on the street that’s never coached before. I don’t know who it is, but I know it’s been decided.”
During his show, Mathews also stated that the perception around the offensive coordinator hire being dictated by people above Jeremy Pruitt is a misconception. According to Mathews, the only person who has a say on the hire besides Pruitt is Fulmer, and even that is minimal.
“This hire is going to be made by Jeremy Pruitt, period. That’s who’s gonna make this hire,” Mathews said. “The Athletic Director (Phillip Fuler) point blank told me that nobody is putting any pressure on him to hire or not to hire. The Athletic Director has made it very clear this is 100 percent Jeremy Pruitt’s hire with a couple little conditions, but they have nothing to do with who it is in respect to his coaching ability.
“This is Jeremy Pruitt’s hire. This is his program.”
According to Mathews, the “couple little conditions” are three stipulations that Fulmer will take into consideration for any hire. Those three things that “have to go through Phillip Fulmer” are how it will affect the university, former players, and current and future players.
Mathews says that if a candidate would negatively affect any of those three aspects, then they wouldn’t be hired as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.
The hire may not be public knowledge according to Mathews, but he insists that a coach has been decided upon. It’s just a matter of “when” for the announcement.
“Jeremy Pruitt’s gonna make the decision. He’s made that decision, in my strong opinion,” Mathews said. “They know who they’re gonna hire. When they’re gonna do it, I don’t know.”