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Part 6: The oral history of the Tennessee coaching search

Tennessee AD John Currie
Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports

VI: The Day After

The next day, Monday, November 27, Tennessee fans still were rejoicing, but the anger hadn’t dissipated much, if at all.

The embattled Currie released a statement, which was widely criticized. Here is a condensed version.

Currie: “I have followed Coach Schiano’s accomplishments throughout his career and have been fortunate to get to know him and his family over the last several years. We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions. He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures. Coach Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990-1995. Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh. Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. … And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. … I am grateful for your patience as our search for the next leader for the Tennessee football program continues, and I look forward to making that introduction soon.”

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The statement offered no apologies to Vols fans, and did little to calm their nerves. A few years previous, then-Tennessee AD Dave Hart defended the vetting of men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall, who arrived in Knoxville with NCAA violations on his résumé, and would be fired less than a year on the job when more rules-breaking activity from his past was discovered. Tennessee’s vetting of Schiano will be mentioned in the same breath for years to come.

Ramey: The statement he put out had no mention of why things fell apart. The deal falling apart means proper vetting was not done.

West: What’s the proper vetting? Calling the guy that currently employs him or a trustee at Penn State that has an invested interest in saying Schiano didn’t know?

Brice: Ridiculous. I will not rant here but simply say Google ‘University of Tennessee Title IX lawsuit.’

Dubin: I think John Currie did do the proper vetting. but who he didn’t properly vet was Vol Nation.

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Warren: John Currie’s “extreme vetting” worked wonders. Full approval – 100 percent chance he uses Bing.

Withrow: I believe he was aware of the (Mike) McQueary deposition, but honestly didn’t think it would be an issue because it wasn’t an issue for Ohio State. What he failed to realize was being the DC for a powerful, national-championship winning authoritarian like Urban Meyer is far different from being the most visible employee in the state, like you are as the head coach of Tennessee. He also failed to gauge the level of hope of his fan base, which would lead to the level of disappointment when word leaked that Schiano was the choice. It was also a terrible job of understanding what Tennessee was coming off of with Butch Jones and how closely Schiano mirrors him in many ways. The decision was just … strange.

Burris: Currie absolutely did not do the proper amount of vetting because he clearly didn’t account for how fans would feel about the hire. Currie figured it would be good enough to force it on the fans and they would just take it because they’re incredibly loyal. But if he had had an ear to the ground listening to the distaste of the fan base, he would have known this was a ticking time bomb.

(You can follow Mark Nagi on Twitter @MarkNagi)

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