(Special to Gridiron Now from John Brice)
At a place too ripe with drama and too often a national punchline, University of Tennessee leaders – especially athletics director John Currie and chancellor Beverly Davenport – one-upped themselves on Sunday afternoon with an ill-conceived agreement for the Vols’ next head football coach and then a mad dash of scrambling to jettison the agreement.
Greg Schiano, a one-time NFL head coach who’s most recently been serving as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, had agreed to become Tennessee’s replacement for the fired Butch Jones, dismissed November 12 after compiling a 34-27 ledger in not quite five full seasons.
Schiano, per multiple people and reports, even had inked a memorandum of understanding that also had been signed by Currie, who took over UT athletics in April after Tennessee mysteriously forced out Dave Hart.
Per sources with intimate knowledge of the situation, Tennessee will eventually have to mitigate the terms of the M.O.U. with Schiano and is expected to owe settlement money to Schiano.
Sources also indicated that Currie used a third party to tell Schiano he would be pulling out of the deal, hours after signing the pact and also less than 24 hours after Currie was informed, per sources, of Schiano’s past at Penn State. That past, and his reportedly having knowledge of Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky acting inappropriately with young boys while doing nothing to prevent it or bring it to anyone’s attention, is the trigger which led to the unprecedented social media backlash against the decision by Tennessee fans and media members which ultimately prevented Schiano’s hiring in a historic showing of, in a sense, college football democracy. Currie choosing to move forward with Schiano as a candidate and still electing to sign the M.O.U. on behalf of Tennessee is a decision he will one day have to answer for.
So Tennessee is still in need of a coach and perhaps never has had more national egg on its face – think scrambled with an extra dose of public shaming.
Where do the Vols go from here after fan protests, politicians’ statements, and national attention on Sunday prompted Currie to walk away from the deal?
A source with first-hand knowledge said Tennessee has contacted Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, as well as Southern Cal offensive coordinator Tee Martin. Brohm, per sources at Purdue, mostly operates without an agent while Martin is represented by Jimmy Sexton.
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