I never thought Greg Schiano would be a great hire for Tennessee when news began to leak this weekend. And that has nothing to do with what he did or didn’t do at Penn State.
Schiano has a 68-67 record in college football, all at Rutgers. His record is impressive considering where he coached, but not overwhelming. Still, an 11-win season in 2006 garnered him several coach of the year awards. Then he was fired after an 11-21 record as coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Compared to who had been rumored for the UT job, Schiano had all the sizzle of a bag of ice.
I personally lost all respect for Schiano when he was a no-show during a Rutgers recruiting visit to Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep. His assistants were at the school unaware that he had already accepted the coaching position with the Bucs.
But the uproar around Schiano for his role in the alleged cover-up at Penn State was a convenient way for UT fans to swiftly reject him. Personally, it would trouble me if Schiano was hired and it would give me pause if Schiano were hired and my son was considering UT as a college football prospect.
The coaching position at Tennessee shouldn’t be filled by a candidate with such baggage. But his involvement with the cover-up at Penn State is unproven and perhaps false. If this type of flimsy allegation were tied to Chip Kelly, Bob Stoops or Jon Gruden, there wouldn’t have been outrage Sunday. Instead, fans would have celebrated the hire.
The mistake that UT athletic director John Currie made in tabbing Schiano for the job was that Schiano has no SEC knowledge and has rarely recruited big-time players, especially in the southeast. Moreover, a coach with knowledge of Schiano told me that his players strongly disliked him, which is what we have recently learned about former UT coach Butch Jones. It would have been a bad hire even if Schiano had never even stepped foot in State College.
UT fans surmised as much, and the outcry now has Currie looking for another coach after he decided he couldn’t hire Schiano based on the fan reaction.
The response either makes Currie look weak or out of touch with his fan base. I’ll let you decide.
What further frustrated fans is that interesting names such as Washington State’s Mike Leach and Washington’s Chris Petersen came up late last week. Those are both more intriguing than Schiano by a long shot. Petersen would be a long shot, but Leach seemed attainable, at least before Sunday.
Now if I’m a coach and UT comes calling, I’m not sure that’s where I want to be. Currie proved he wasn’t connected with his fan base with the Schiano fiasco.
Just what would a coach be stepping into? By the looks of it, a dumpster fire.
(You can follow Dave Hooker on Twitter @DaveHookerShow)
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