The Athletic Department has been absolutely silent about this process thus far hiding behind the shroud of "Let's just take this time to honor Phillip Fulmer."
Give. Me. A. Flipping. Break.
I'm sure Mike Hamilton is closely monitoring and working diligently with the staff in making the preparations to send off Coach in style. And if you believe that, I've got a great investment opportunity I need to talk with you about.
I'm sure Mike and Co. are going crazy right now trying to clandestinely contact respective candidates, who by the way are in the middle of a season, trying to gauge interest for this job. And if they can't, because of it being inappropriate, get a hold of the coach, I'm sure they are having interesting talks with certain agents who may or may not represent said coaches.
Having said all that, I've casually watched the RTT Coaching Survey and I've got to say it. I'm not that thrilled about a lot of the prospects we have looked. I like some but not most, and with all the others it's just too much of a long shot. So here's my long winded spiel. And if you stay untill the end I'll throw a curveball that I haven't heard anyone talk about yet.
I'll start with the RTT coaching search.
1. Bill Cowher: You got to want to coach these days. And I'm not sure that someone who leaves the Steelers like he did really wants to coach any more.
2. Butch Davis: Davis voiced his committment to UNC earlier this week. Don't see it happening. Understanding that Sabanesque statements cleary stating that you will never be the coach of so and so mean next to nothing these days, I have no reason, as of yet, to doubt Davis.
3. Jim Grobe: Absolutley not. No WAY. No HOW. Since he came to Wake Forest in 2001, he is 51-42. What in TARNATION leads anyone to believe that this body of work, preceded by a lukewarm 33-33-1 mark at Ohio State University, is worthy of being the change that Big Orange fans have been raving on about. Listen, a certain Coach that went 66-33 since 2001 is getting pushed out of his job because the production was not there. Why would we replace that man with someone who is still south of that type of unacceptable production? We make changes to improve things. I don't see this choice as an improvement.
4. Jon Gruden: I love funny faces. Really I do. And maybe he would be a great choice to coach Tennessee. Woody Paige said so on Around the Horn. But consider that he is coaching a team one game back from the division leader. One game. Consider that until his season ends, barring some crazy Petrino-like meltdown, Gruden is out of play. And at the very latest that season could end on February 1st, 2009, which, if memory serves me correctly, is quite close to National Signing Day. So at best (if you are a fan of Gruden in orange), Tampa's season ends on December 28th without a playoff appearance (ironically would that help or hurt his candidancy with the Vols?). Plenty of time to steal some last minute recruits, right? Actually, this team could go deep into the playoffs and I just don't think Tennessee is willing to write off a recruiting season just to get Gruden. The logistics, in my mind, don't lend themselves to this hire. Oh yeah, the Super Bowl is in Tampa this year. It's not like the Bucs are going to want to play for the title in their own stadium or anything.
5. Todd Graham: I don't know anything about this guy other than he has done some nice things with Tulsa. It just bothers me that we mention one of his own coordinators in this search. So with that I seriously wonder how much of a prospect he really is.
6. Gus Malzahn: Heard he was a fabulous recruiter of Arkansas players....that played for him the previous year at his old high school coacing gig.... This story between him, Mustain, Mustain's Mom and Houston Nutt is the state capital of North Bizzarro. Do the Vols really want any part of that hoopla?
7. Gary Pinkel: Has connections to Washington, who is also looking, and frankly has a good thing going at Mizzou thank you very much.
8. Kyle Whittingham: Heck why not. Florida did it to Utah. Let's do it! Let's hire Urban Meyer v1.2.1 Beta!!
9. Skip Holtz: Had some big wins early. I just don't get warm and fuzzy with this guy. Maybe its because his Dad really, really, really hates Tennessee.
10. Brian Kelly: After stints at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinatti, Kelly has a 147-54-2 record as Head Coach. Does that record look familiar to anyone? Again, we need change but we need change that improves us. Is one 10-3 season at Cincinatti and a current 2 loss record for this season really enough to blow our collective orange socks off??
11. Gary Patterson: I heard there was a opening at Kansas State where Patterson played his college ball. Oh Crap.
12. Chris Peterson: Actually I love this guy. But not because I follow Boise State. But because he had the testicular fortitude to run a Hook and Ladder and a Statue of Liberty play in ONE GAME! Against Bob Stoops! Either he has great gigantic big ones or he is insane. Either way it would be fun to see him in Knoxville. On the other hand, Boise State's formerly highly regarded coach is not doing spectacular things at Colorado. So I'm not sure where this leaves us.
13. Lane Kiffin: Touched by Al Davis. Dustin Hoffman and a boatload of rhesus monkeys are working to see whether Kiffin has been infected by Davis' bat crap crazy virus.
14. Mike Leach: I love that he is a Pirate. I love that he has run Texas Tech into a #2 ranking. I love that probably has some strong recruiting ties to Texas. But, in your heart of hearts, do you see this guy coming to Knoxville? I'd love to see it. It would be a huge steal. But, it just might be the orange version of Operation Market Garden.
15. Will Muschamp: Another guy I would love to see in Knoxpatch. But I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a Texas fan out of our own RTT mold. And he said something pretty interesting me. Basically he said that Muschamp is a great defensive coach with a lot of intensity. However, he said that Texas has seen a lot of great defensive coordinators a la Gene Chizik. And then he said something that shamed me because it was 100% true. He said, "Would Paris Hilton be anything without her night visioned escapades? If Muschamp hadn't been caught on youtube saying BOOM MATHA EFFER to Arkansas and hadn't been photographed bleeding out of his ear earlier this year, would he really be that big of a coaching prospect?" Tough to say, but I had to admit that he made a good point.
16. Steve Sarkisian: Maybe. Hard to say. Can't go wrong with his coaching upbringing with BYU and USC. Recruiting ties to California interest me as long as it doesn't result in any more seniors who like to speak Pterodactyl in their free moments.
Which brings me to another prospect who I am warming up to. I think there is one candidate a lot closer to home that may deserve a chance at a head coaching job. Maybe he's not the right guy for Tennessee but he definitely deserves a shot somewhere. Regardless I hope UT at least talks to him. And that man is....
Fantastic Defensive Coach. Fantastic recruiter that can pipeline recruits from Florida/Georgia and other SEC talent hotbeds. Led the 2006 defense that absolutely crushed Ohio State and actually made me feel kind of sorry for Troy Smith and the Buckeyes.
I don't know if he would ever actually consider coming to Tennessee given his history with South Carolina and Florida. Regardless, if it's new blood we are looking for, I think stealing a top assistant from a bitter enemy would definitely be an interesting selection.
Do I really think he has a shot to be at Tennessee? I don't know. Probably not. But I'd rather go with Charlie Strong over more than half the names we have looked at so far.