Tennessee and Ohio State, the flagship universities in their respective states, have a very complicated relationship in athletics.
They have fielded some of the best football teams in the history of the college game. Until last season, UT and OSU were the only two FBS teams to never suffer through an eight loss season (the Vols broke that streak with a 4-8 campaign). Head to head, they’ve only played once, the 1996 Citrus Bowl. Bill Duff’s stop on Eddie George helped the Vols beat the favored Buckeyes in a matchup of top five teams.
In basketball, there is more history. Greg Oden’s block of a Ramar Smith runner allowed Ohio State to survive in the 2007 Sweet 16. J.P. Prince’s swat of a desperation three-pointer by Evan Turner sealed the Vols victory in Sweet 16 only three years later.
The bad blood really surfaced later in September 2010 when a picture surfaced of Aaron Craft at then-Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl’s house. Craft was being recruited by both the Vols and Ohio State. The off-campus visit was an NCAA violation. Pearl lied about the picture, and eventually would be fired. Exactly how the NCAA got their hands on the picture isn’t known, but Vols fans have long suspected involvement from the Buckeyes.
Craft would go on to play four seasons at Ohio State.
No, Vols fans and Buckeyes fans don’t exchange many Christmas cards.
On November 26, 2017, then-Tennessee athletics director John Currie attempted to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to become the Vols new football coach. The response from Tennessee fans was so immediate and loud that Currie would pull the job offer later that same day.
The Schiano/Tennessee story has been well documented. He had a loose tie to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, but has denied ever seeing abuse take place. He was never interviewed by authorities.
Remember, Tennessee was only 16 months removed from the settling of a Title IX lawsuit. Attempting to hire someone with even a hint of the worst scandal in the history of collegiate athletics should have brought forth lots of red flags.
In a statement from Currie the day after “Schiano Sunday,” he attempted to explain the thought process.
“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. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony.”
The same day, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said this about Greg Schiano, “He’s an elite, elite husband, elite father and elite football coach. I stand by my coach.”
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