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Clear The Board!

Moving on from Jon Gruden to the rest of the list; where should the search go from here?

Andy Lyons

People have asked a couple of times what it would take to move on from Grudenmania 2012. With conflicting reports popping up hot and heavy in the last 24 hours and mass hysteria setting in, it hasn't been easy. But the report from Gruden's agent by Evan Woodbery in The Knoxville News-Sentinel earlier today clearly paints a picture from a direct source that Gruden isn't coming here.

To be clear, I'm not saying I believe everything the agent is saying - I'm sure his conversation with Dave Hart lasted a little longer than three sentences. But I think this is as close as we're going to get to the University of Tennessee and/or Gruden's camp acknowledging that the Vols and Gruden are moving on.

Are there unanswered questions about what went down between the Vols and Gruden? Sure. Will we ever know all of the details with absolute certainty? Probably not. But in the midst of so much uncertainty, what now seems most clear is that Gruden won't be coaching in Knoxville. And as long as that's true, we need to move on and focus on what's next.

While we're engaged in a little family feud here, both ends of the spectrum need to settle themselves down. For those who are pointing fingers at the passionate pro-Gruden crowd, I'm sorry, did you not want Tennessee to go after the obvious number one choice on the board? For those in the pro-Gruden crowd who are now swearing they are done with this coaching search and done supporting this university...peace out. Settle down.

Just because you don't get your number one answer on the board doesn't mean you still can't win. The Vols may not make a hire that makes you feel like a champion in December, but as we found out under Dooley, what really matters is if you feel like a champion on fall Saturdays. And there are plenty of names left on that board that can lead Tennessee to wins on fall Saturdays.

So...who's next?

Eleven days ago we first ran an "If Not Gruden, Then Who?" poll. With just over 1,600 votes, Charlie Strong was the leading vote getter in a poll of eight names plus "other". Again, that at least on some level reflects the fact that the majority of the writing staff here at RTT supports Strong as the next best thing.

So today we present this poll to you with fewer options. Again, this is based on a general consensus of names being named by those who name names. We have removed a few names from the first poll, including two high vote getters in Bobby Petrino and Gary Patterson based on what seems to be a low likelihood of them being UT's next coach at this point. Once again, if you don't like any of these choices, feel free to leave us your guy in the comments.

I doubt we'll get a clear consensus out of this group same as we did last time. I will say, I personally am very much behind this notion:

Relentless optimism is what we need in large doses. I hope RTT will continue to be a place where such optimism grows. This is a great job, even if some of us may have forgotten that along the way. And just because it's not Jon Gruden doesn't mean it's not a great job. Again, it was never "Gruden or bust", but "Gruden, then everyone else." We tried with Gruden. Now let's see where we can go with everyone else.

Keep the faith. Go Vols.