Sunday, November 25, 2012

3 Is a Tennessee coaching announcement coming soon?

By Shaee Flatt

The Tennessee coaching search is in full swing. It’s been a week since Derek Dooley was officially let go, and several names have surfaced. Jon Gruden, Bob Stoops, and Jimbo Fisher are the names that have been thrown around the most, and would all be solid hires. Ninety-nine percent of the fan base is dying for Jon Gruden and for obvious reasons’, he has the highest potential of any candidate out there, without question.

However, I’m not going to talk about the pros and cons of each coach, just which ones are likely and which ones probably aren’t. Sunday night Tennessee beat writer Wes Rucker said "We hesitate to even mention this because of the questions that could follow it — questions we can’t answer at this point, unfortunately — but we’ve heard now from multiple sources that UT athletic director Dave Hart has told several high-level boosters that they “won’t have to wait long” after Saturday’s win over Kentucky to have a replacement named.”

The quote, as Rucker suspected, as brought lots of questions. Is Gruden really the done deal that some think he is? Has someone else slipped through the cracks and accepted the job?

Here is my take on it; If an announcement comes this week, which seems possible based on the quote, it’s either going to be Gruden, or someone disappointing. The other prominent names have all been coaching the past couple weeks and it is unlikely that any talks would have progressed far enough for Hart to make a statement like that regarding any of them. However, a lesser coach would be willing to talk no matter when Tennessee wanted to talk.

The Knoxville media has been pretty adamant that the next coach will NOT be Jon Gruden. However, they were the same way with Lane Kiffin in 2009. It is possible that this is just a smokescreen to stop leaking of information.

It is also possible that they are 100 percent serious and 100 percent correct. Fact is, we have no idea. I do know this though, Bob Stoops or Jimbo Fisher will not be named as Tennessee’s next football coach in the next week. It is possible that talks with Charlie Strong have gotten serious, but I don’t think Tennessee fans’ would be happy with Strong unless he was pretty far down the line, and behind at least a few others who turned the job down. Again, possible.

Talks between Tennessee and Gruden could have died, Hart could have called Stoops and Fisher, and both could have had no interest. That could have left Hart with Strong, who could be close to signing. It’s all pure speculation, but if an announcement is made this week, it’s either going to be Gruden or someone disappointing. Tennessee NEEDS a SPLASH. They need someone that if hired, will be talked about on ESPN and national radio shows around the country all day. Charlie Strong is a good football coach, but he’s not a splash hire. He wouldn’t provide the spark that this fan base needs and he isn’t guaranteed success.

Personally, my gut says it is in fact Jon Gruden. Everything outsisde of the Knoxville media is pointing that way, and in a way, the Knoxville media is as well. One day, they were all talking about him being possible and the next they say “no chance” without being able to provide any details as to why. It’s a fishy situation. Whereas media outside of Knoxville are reporting that Gruden has talked to coaches, as late as Sunday Nov. 25, (tonight) about joining him to coach at Tennessee.

If an announcement is made this week, then I honestly think Jon Gruden will be the next Head football coach at Tennessee, and if he is, Tennessee football will be back on the map right away. He might be hard as hell on his players, he might want total control and think he runs the entire University, but two things are for certain, he will recruit as good as or better than anyone in the country, and he will win. “He’s too hard on his players, he expects too much out of them” or “He wants too much control, he wants to own the whole school” are quotes I’ve seen regarding Gruden, and they are quotes that remind me of one man. Nick Saban. Or in other words, the best coach in college football. To be the best, you have to be obsessed like no one else is, Nick Saban and Jon Gruden are obsessed with football and they’re obsessed with winning. That is exactly what Tennessee needs, someone who will not accept failure, but that will do anything necessary in order to win. Tennessee needs Jon Gruden.


  1. Good read, Kenny. Was wondering if you'd mind sharing a link or two to the media sources your referenced outside of Knoxville that is suggesting Gruden has been working behind the scenes to put a staff around himself at UT. I haven't seen those but would love to.

    The University Chancellor's presser last week left me with the feeling that he is dedicated, at any cost, to bringing UT football back. The return of the 18 mil to the Athletics Department felt curiously like it was being allocated for a specific purpose, if not a specific person, and I think there's only one potential hire who could command that kind of starting salary.

  2. Thanks, Eric. Sorry it took me a while to get back to you, iPhone was acting up last night. To answer your question, inside of Knoxville Wes Rucker has reported that numerous coaches have been contacted, most notably Raheem Morris. Lots of speculation about Morris being DC if Gruden comes. Danny Parker, Erin Andrews, Clay Travis, Dan Hellie, Jason LaConfora, Gary Askew and a few more I can't seem to get back to.

    Andrews was one that said no chance to Gruden early on but now says she has a source that says it is getting very close. LaConfora of and CBS says he believes Gruden wants to coach in college and that if he does return to coaching, it will be at Tennessee, and Gary Askew of Chattanooga sports radio has been saying for about a week that he thinks Gruden will be the next coach. Last night he said the following "Just got the call ive been waiting on for 6 days.......there no longer is a doubt in my mind who the Vols will introduce as their new head football coach.....NO DOUBT..monday at 4 sport talk 102.3 fm

    Again, I repeat...NO DOUBT"

    in reference to Jon Gruden. so take it for what it's worth, the reports are out there. It is pretty much just the Knoxville media (Hubbs, Hyams, Ainge, etc) that are shooting this rumor down all of a sudden. It seems a lot like the Kiffin hire in 2009. Just last week all three of those names had VERY different tunes on Gruden.

  3. Excellent, thanks for sharing all that Kenny. I'm following this stuff pretty much daily, and I swear it kind of feels like there are endless reasons to think he's coming, and at the same time, that there isn't a single real reason to think he's coming either. I also think there are great arguments on both sides as to whether he'd be likely to excel at the college level. There is after all, an historic precedent that says guys pretty rarely cross over from pro ball to college or vice versa, with any real and lasting success.

    I don't know, probably the biggest part of me leans towards wanting that "splash hire" you referred to. I mean the fan base is always all over the place, but their voices do matter! How much? Just look at all those empty seats at Neyland this year! The Orange Nation needs an epic excitement injection, and there is no doubt Gruden would provide that. He'd have the boundless love and support of the collective fan base behind him, and whatever happened, it wouldn't be because he wasn't welcome.

    I just wonder how long we'll be in suspense...



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