The orange skies of Rocky Top aren't created by the setting sun these days. If you look close enough, you can see that they come from the blazing dumpster fire that was once the University of Tennessee football program.
In case you haven't heard, UT's search to hire a head football coach hasn't gone too well. An effort that has produced what would have been a terrible hire, multiple turn-downs, and countless frustrated fans, alumni, boosters, etc. has left the program in a state that it's never been in before.
It all started Sunday when the story leaked that Tennessee had reached an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Outrage ensued and fans took to the streets in order to protest. Social media was a slaughterhouse and even local politicians contacted the university to voice their disapproval.
Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie was completely tone-deaf in thinking that he could hire Schiano who went 28-48 in the Big East, forged terrible relationships with players, and was regarded with disdain amongst his peers.
As we all know, the temporary "movement" by upset fans forced Currie to pull the deal with Schiano from the table. Currie, who was once viewed - speculatively - as a bad hire now had credence.
But what happened today took the cake when it comes to incompetence and mismanagement.
Fresh off a rejection from Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, the Vols decided to focus their search on Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm.
Many asked the questions, "Why wasn't he one of the first coaches contacted?" and "They thought Schiano would be a better coach than Brohm?".
Those are legitimate questions. Brohm has an insanely better resume and track record than Schiano. He had Western Kentucky ranked in the AP top 25 by the end of his last year and won six games in his first season at Purdue after the Boilermakers won just nine games in four years.
Brohm is also the complete opposite of Butch Jones, whereas Schiano can be deemed as a more intense version of Jones - something this program needs to desperately avoid.
But Currie, somehow, was lured in like Georgie after he lost his boat down the storm drain and Schiano just so happened to be Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
If only it stopped there though. As the day progressed, news broke that the Vols were set to name their head coach and that it was indeed Brohm:
Tennessee will soon announce the hiring of Purdue coach Jeff Brohm after going 6-6 this year. Brohm was 30-10 at Western Kentucky. Buyout is $5 million, drops to $4 million Dec 5. Still owes Purdue about $750k for leaving WKY.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 29, 2017
All of a sudden, things seemed normal and maybe - just maybe - the Vols found their man. However, we all know as UT fans that nothing ever goes right anymore. We should have expected this to fall apart and it did in the worst way imaginable.
First came conflicting reports that the confirmation of the deal had yet to actually happen:
Sources: Tennessee's search not over https://t.co/ZbvgwAB9qM— Volquest Staff (@Volquest_Rivals) November 29, 2017
Ok, so the deal wasn't official yet. No big deal, right? They are probably just hammering out the final details of the agreement.
Oh how wrong we all were.
What (reportedly) happened next was the straw that broke the camel's back with this administration:
I am told that UT AD John Currie made an offer to Jeff Brohm that Brohm accepted. Currie then asked the chancellor to approve the offer — buyout included — and chancellor said no. So Currie went back to Brohm with lesser offer and Brohm said no. So here we are.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) November 29, 2017
Travis was the first to report this horrendous development. There were doubts at first, but then John Brice confirmed the report:
#Vols walk back 2nd coaching agreement this week, focus shifts --- but Tee & Lane still can't get calls (FREE READ, PLEASE SHARE): https://t.co/EhuXaHdXU3 @GrantRamey @RealLife_J_LO @codylowe88 @Kdcody96 @LarryTheDeuce @johnbhodgson @THESethHughes @Jon__Reed @The_Matty_D pic.twitter.com/lLNsWA0IfJ— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) November 29, 2017
What. In. The. Hell.
How could the two most prominent, key figures in the search screw things up this bad AGAIN?
What we are left with is two scenarios and they probably intersect in some form or fashion:
- John Currie is so incompetent or unaware of his environment that he decided not to get the approval from his boss before he presented Brohm with the terms.
- Beverly Davenport is a micromanaging, tone-deaf, and incompetent evaluator when it comes to a hiring a coach.
My money is on both. The Gruesome Twosome have absolutely derailed this program's chance of recovering any momentum back from a 4-8 season. Whatever it is - lack of communication, lack of experience, or simply lack of intelligence - this administration has shown in a very short time that they are unable to run this program at a high level.
Now the program is left scattered, viewed as a national laughingstock and a program that can't get out of its own way. At least we know where to place the blame.
I don't see how Davenport and Currie survive, but with Jimmy Haslam running things it would not surprise me to see them stick around. Haslam is a whole other story for another time.
I guess the bright side is the fact that we don't have to wait five years to find out how shitty these two would be at their jobs like we did with Butch. At this point, you have to wonder, if we would have known how bad these two were - would we have been so ready to fire Butch? It's a question worth asking, but hindsight is 20/20.
And now, as our eyes have been opened once again, we get the privilege of watching this program burn with perfect clarity.