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Part 7: The oral history of the Tennessee coaching search

Tennessee
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Part VII: The national media vs. Tennessee fans

While most of the Tennessee fan base celebrated, the Schiano story was seen in a different light nationally.

Many well-known media members ripped Tennessee fans for their actions.

Faison: I’m not challenged at all about what some Yankee says about my state. No. 1, I don’t care what they do in their state so why should they care what we do in our state? No. 2, if you are going to call us ignorant hillbilly rednecks, maybe you should take a chill and look at which state in America is doing better than any other state and then load your blank shots. We are the fastest-growing state for jobs … lowest unemployment … our education is doing great; we have more work covered up, lowest debt … We are about the best state financially in America, so when some Yankee pundit for Sports Illustrated or some liberal outlet or ESPN has something to say about my state, I say that you don’t know what you are talking about. You are completely ignorant about this state to say anything.

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Fernandez: I think this is a huge problem with journalism right now. All of us reporters try too often to step back and look at the whole picture from far away. When we look at things with a wide angle, we miss the finer details. That’s what happened here. It’s not as simple as ‘fans angry, fans lie, fans get what they want.’ That Sunday with Greg Schiano was years in the making. It was as much about a decade of frustration as it was Greg Schiano. Casting judgement on the group without speaking with them isn’t fair.

Rice: You had a variety of national personalities that are represented by the same agency that Jimmy Sexton works for start being critical. That’s the whole problem now in most of the national media in sports, politics and everything else. It’s all entertainment and these people have entertainment agents. Now, the entertainment agencies are involved in sports and coaching, and you have an agent with the ability to drive a narrative on multiple fronts. I had several people that I’ve met in the media reach out to encourage me to walk back my criticism of Schiano on Twitter. That was a real eye-opener.

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Hart: I was surprised how out of touch some of my colleagues in the national media were on this subject. Tennessee doesn’t deserve someone better or more accomplished because the program has a losing record over the last decade?! What?! They were a top-10 program as recently as October of last year, when they were a win away from the Sugar Bowl. Butch won nine games in consecutive years. Vol Nation should not be forced to apologize for having high standards. No one should. I look at it this way. Coaches ask for two things pertaining to their next job: Can I win a championship? And can I get paid? Tennessee football checks both boxes.

Warren: What the national media keeps missing here is that if it was Mike Norvell or Jeff Brohm or Mike MacIntyre, it would’ve been generic fan apathy. We know what lower-tier hires look like because we’ve gotten them in every sport for a decade. Hiring someone who was a lower-tier coach not on anyone else’s hot board and who has major red flags in his history and in his character sent these people through the roof. Mike Norvell? You would’ve gotten 90K+ at every home game his first year because everyone here will give you a chance for a little while unless they’ve got good reasons not to.

(You can follow Mark Nagi on Twitter @MarkNagi)

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