Tennessee was very close (reportedly) to hiring current Washington State head football coach Mike Leach during the disastrous 2017 coaching search. Former Tennessee AD John Currie flew out to California to meet with Leach about the opening after swinging and missing on Dan Mullen and Mike Gundy. Of course, all of this came after the torpedoed attempted hire of Greg Schiano.
That strange week ended with the firing of Currie, putting former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer in place at the athletics director.
On Wednesday, Leach talked about the situation with Paul Finebaum.
“I just said, ‘I’m in L.A. Come out here and I’m happy to talk with you.’ Which we did,” Leach said of his meeting with Currie. “Shortly after that, there was a coup d’etat at the University of Tennessee. It was a coup d’etat. You can call it what you want, and I hope I don’t hurt anybody’s feelings at Tennessee, but it’s a fact. It was like something out of Shakespeare.”
As the story goes, Currie was in talks with N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren, but, citing negative social media response, moved on to Leach.
Here’s this from the infamous Currie document dump.
“I (Currie) had every intention of being able to communicate and that we could still get a DD deal done while I was traveling but without an immediate answer, the negative social media assaults against him and the media news of their negotiating with NCSU, I was concerned that I needed to be in position to meet with other candidate [sic] including Coach Leach, who was in LA recruiting.”
Leach went on to describe what happened next to Finebaum.
“All the sudden, they call home the AD, and en route they off him,” Leach said. “Then the king or the chancellor who orders the offing of the AD because the guards are around him demanding that it be done in order to secure a position. Shortly after that, they off the president. Then they off the very chancellor who set it all in motion allegedly. There was a whole power shift. Anyway, hopefully the ground for the good people at Tennessee is more stable now.”
Yep, that seems about right from Leach’s side of things. And Tennessee does finally have some stability within the football program and the athletics department, but if you’re like me, a small part of you will always wonder what Mike Leach could have accomplished at a football blue-blood like Tennessee. At the very least, it would have been extremely entertaining.