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Report: Cutcliffe a ‘viable’ option for Tennessee; Other candidates named

Well this list is different.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

According to, Jon Gruden has told people around him that he is not a serious candidate for the Tennessee job. That’s not new from this outlet — they reported the same thing last week.

They laid out a new batch of candidates in that report last week and they expanded on those names this week.

We start with David Cutcliffe. Here’s the statement from the scoop.

David Cutcliffe is a viable candidate. We heard it early on and we keep hearing it.

I continue not to buy this. This is the only outlet connecting Tennessee to Cutcliffe at this point. The reason why is obvious — why would John Currie hitch his wagon to the 63 year old former Tennessee assistant? There was a point in time where this could have worked, but I can’t see it now. Cutcliffe’s Duke team is currently 5-6. They were 4-8 last season, crashing back down to earth after an impressive three year run of eight wins or more. I’d guess Currie would have to be told no several times to get to this point.

Football Scoop’s report mentions another former Tennessee offensive coordinator, too. Dave Clawson. I figured we would see his name pop up before too much longer. Clawson has done a really nice job at each of his last three stops. He’s got Wake Forest playing really good football right now, but could Tennessee fans get past his one dreadful season as the Vols’ offensive coordinator? That seems like a stupid thing to get hung up on, but there’s a very real negative connotation attached to Clawson’s name in Knoxville.

They continue to report that Mike Leach “could be in play.” Scott Frost, Willie Taggart, Jeff Brohm and PJ Fleck were all mentioned as well.

The most interesting part to me was the note on Dan Mullen.

We’ve seen the chatter from many a writer that Dan Mullen is the best fit; but we aren’t hearing his name connected to this search that often from coaches we’ve spoken with. Last week we wrote the downside for Mullen in making a move like this seems to outweigh the upside.

Could this simply be because Currie can’t speak with Mullen until he completes his regular season games? Has the search been hung up on Gruden? I’m not sure, but this would contradict everything else that we’ve heard about Mullen to this point. I’m betting we see the Mullen to Tennessee noise heat up by the end of the week.

The report once again said that Jimbo “would listen” if contacted by Tennessee. I still have a hard time believing that Florida State would let him leave.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Hopefully we can start to narrow the picture down in the next handful of days.