As Tennessee’s coaching search nears three weeks, it probably feels as though it has dragged on for months to most Tennessee fans.
Tennessee and athletic director John Currie have been publicly humiliated in the past week, between the hiring and un-hiring of Greg Schiano, being turned down by Mike Gundy and Jeff Brohm and now reportedly offering a contract to a coach - Dave Doeren - with striking similarities to the one they just fired.
Through all of it, many members of the national media have been there to shame Tennessee fans and try to pin the incompetence of this search on them. Anyone with a journalism degree from Syracuse or Missouri - and some even from Tennessee - has shamed the fans for refusing to accept the hiring of Schiano, which those same media members will tell you is the reason Tennessee’s search has spiraled.
The bottom line is this: Tennessee’s fans are in no way to blame for this coaching search and there is nothing wrong with demanding excellence after a decade of being irrelevant at best and embarrassing at worst.
The sheer incompetence of this coaching search is probably best exemplified by John Currie’s presence in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis basketball tournament, apparently extremely confident in his choice of Greg Schiano and blissfully ignorant to what the fan reaction would be. Not one person in the athletic department had the forethought to even float the name in the media before flying to Columbus, Ohio to finalize a contract - a move which will now likely cost Tennessee money.
Cast aside all the Penn State allegations, which can best be described as hearsay. Greg Schiano was a horrible fit at Tennessee, particularly coming off five years of Butch Jones. Schiano has many of the same personality traits as Jones, which would have rubbed fans and players the wrong way quickly.
John Currie and those few above him have shown their flagrant incompetence at every step of this coaching search, if that’s still what we’re calling it. Getting a good coach at this point seems less likely than Jauan Jennings catching that Hail Mary in the west end zone of Sanford Stadium. But that is not the fault of Tennessee’s fans.
The argument many in the media have made is there is no way Tennessee could get a good coach after the fan-led revolt on Sunday, to which I would reply that Tennessee wasn’t getting a good coach anyway, because it was going to hire Greg Schiano. The prioritization of candidates in this search and the way it has been handled is the reason Tennessee can’t get a good coach, not the fans.
Lane Kiffin, Kevin Sumlin, Mike Leach, Dino Babers, Tee Martin and even Bret Bielema are all very viable options which it appears Tennessee has not even contacted, instead prioritizing the likes of Schiano and Doeren.
Collegiate athletics seems to be the only business where customers can be served a bad product for a prolonged period of time and still be told to simply accept it. In any other business, bad companies are forced to shut down because rationally-behaving consumers reject bad products. And Tennessee has people telling it they want to give it their money and it still refuses to act with any modicum of respect towards those people. They’re right to be angry.
It’s tough to watch. As a student at the University of Tennessee, I take a great deal of pride in this place and this state as a whole. Tennesseans have a level of pride in their state which doesn’t exist in too many places. And Tennessee football is one of the things which binds many people of this state together. To see it being mismanaged so blatantly is the reason the anger has reached the point it has.
It doesn’t look good at this point. But Tennessee needs to figure something out, because this is a critical point in the football program and university as a whole. Many people will not be satisfied with Dave Doeren and have made it known on social media that they will check out.
But this is not the fault of Tennessee’s fans. It’s the fault of Tennessee’s administration.