Is Tennessee's coaching search nearing the finish line, or does Dave Hart still plan more talks?

Coaching search moves to New York City

University of Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart during a press conference at Neyland Stadium on Sunday, November 18, 2012 regarding the future of Tennessee football. 
  
 (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2012 Knoxville News Sentinel

University of Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart during a press conference at Neyland Stadium on Sunday, November 18, 2012 regarding the future of Tennessee football. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

What is your reaction to Jon Gruden not being UT's next football coach?

See the results »

View previous polls »

NEW YORK — Tennessee's search for a football coach moved to a glitzy hotel in Manhattan on Monday night, but it was unclear whether athletic director Dave Hart had more work to do or was putting the finishing touches on his two-week-old quest.

Originally, Hart had said he planned to talk to candidates this week at the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner, a de-facto convention of college coaches and athletic directors. But an active week involving several high-profile targets could bring the search to a conclusion sooner than expected.

Many coaches and their wives were in town a day early for an evening of receptions at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Monday night, but neither Hart nor any of his reported candidates were among those seen milling about the ornate lobby.

Away from New York, however, it was a busy day in Tennessee's search for a coach to replace Derek Dooley.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who has expressly denied multiple reports that he has spoken to Auburn and Tennessee about their vacant positions, raised eyebrows Monday when he criticized Cardinals fans for lack of support.

"We're 9-0 (actually 9-1) and we don't even pack the stadium," Strong said according to a report on WDRB-TV. "What more do we need to do?"

When Strong was asked directly if he would return to Louisville in 2013, he replied, " I will say that at the right time."

Meanwhile, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, also thought to be a candidate at Auburn and at Tennessee, could be staying put. His whereabouts have been scrupulously monitored since the Seminoles beat Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game Saturday night. He doesn't appear to have met with officials from Tennessee, and according to reports in Tallahassee he wasn't believed to be going to New York.

The window for Fisher's candidacy could be shutting. Fisher has professed his commitment to FSU and said he had no plans to leave.

"I won't even discuss other job opportunities with my agent," he said last week as the rumors started to heat up. "I am focused on these players and this team. We are happy here."

That leaves Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy as the lone remaining mystery. Unlike some other candidates, Gundy hasn't denied interest.

He was asked Sunday about reports that he interviewed with Tennessee and was also in the mix for the Arkansas job.

"I would never talk about any other jobs or any confirmation of anything that's gone on," Gundy said. "I would prefer to not talk about anything other than Oklahoma State and the bowl game."

He said he spent the day "around the house," another indication that he made no effort to hide the interview by meeting at a neutral site — or say, in New York.

Some believe that Gundy is using the possible interviews for leverage — both he and Fisher are represented by superagent Jimmy Sexton — but he signed a new contract worth an average of $3.75 million annually just last year.

Are there are other potential candidates? Almost certainly. But if Hart has already settled on his man, they may not be necessary.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 199

vol_mania82 writes:

First!!! Can we get a coach already!!

papavol writes:

After Strong's press conference, It sounds like he has plans to head somewhere.. I'm thinking he's our man.

pcshowtime writes:

Well it appears no Jimbo fisher.
I wonder how many more of super agent Jimmy Sexton's clients Al Davis I mean Dave Hart will make sure get a raise from their current school.
folks wake up and smell the coffee:
1. Jimbo fisher represented by Jimmy Sexton
check
2. Mike Gundy represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
3. Charlie Strong represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
4. Dave hart represented by I wonder who

redmcman writes:

I believe Strong could be a good choice. He has denied meeting with UT and Auburn. No mention of Arkansas and he was born and played college football in the state of Arkansas. Hope that wouldn't give the edge to Arkansas in his mind.

allvol9 writes:

Strong and Gundy would both be huge upgrades...I would be happy with either. Go Vols!

voloffaith writes:

in response to vol_mania82:

First!!! Can we get a coach already!!

Did you know that there isn't a santa Claus.....is that a new "FIRST" for you...this 3rd grade tsrif is so petty.........coaches will say what they say and will play the game....

Orangeblood13 writes:

Been around a long time
I thought we could get maybe who we want
Now I'm think it might be who ever is left

thevoice writes:

Patience, Evan. Patience. We'll know who our coach is when Hart announces it.

pcorange writes:

Much prefer Gundy to Strong. Gundy has won in a football conference. To me, Strong is a much bigger gamble. It's a lot easier to look good in the Big East than it is in the Big 12. I'd say Strong is who we will get, though, if we even get one that good. I'm hoping for Gundy, but expecting him to get a raise where he is.

1vavolfan writes:

Evan, you are the journalist we are the readers. We are supposed to be asking you the questions, not vice versa. KNS is clearly clueless on what is happening. Until a press conference is called might as well not tune in here.

RoyaltyVol writes:

I read that Tennessee is reaching out to Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, this guy has done a great job at Wisconsin. I'd take this guy over Strong and Fisher.

SEAL_9821 writes:

Larry Fedora is the next petrino or Brian Kelly. He could win big with our resources at Tennessee.

asleep#212036 writes:

Every school gets "who is left", that is the nature of a coaching search. And Hart, if he chooses Strong, Fedora, Golden, Davis, Jones, or whomever, may still have gotten who he wanted but didn't figure it would hurt to see if he could shoot the moon. If he doesn't talk (or at least try) to Gruden, Fisher, Stoops, etc..., he's blasted by fans for settling on a lesser guy. If he talks to them and they don't drop everything to take the job, we are hosed and nobody wants to come to Knoxville. C'mon folks, we only want the man who wants us and we will get him. The last two searches were conducted by Hamilton, the latter hire under extreme duress caused by rushing into the former one. Hart is taking his time and doing due diligence to try and get it right. And who cares if some of the coaches he's talked to are using that to get a raise? Does that mean he shouldn't have talked to them? Relax, we'll know in a couple of days. After listening to Strong's comments, I think he's got the job unless Gundy wants it, which I doubt. Frankly, I'd rather have Strong. Go Vols!!!

born2ride writes:

Dave Hart dropped the ball with the Gruden hire.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to RoyaltyVol:

I read that Tennessee is reaching out to Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, this guy has done a great job at Wisconsin. I'd take this guy over Strong and Fisher.

That's a fact, he demands a physical style of fb that rivals Bama. Imagine what he could do with real speed and his ability to lure power backs. I'm liking this rumor..GBO!!

VFLVFLVFL writes:

What about butch davis. Jim Mora jr. Your my boy blue

wbsmd1 writes:

Does not matter who is hired. Just fire them in Feb. if 15 not signed in the ESPN top 300.UT will start to turn it around with back to back top 5 recruiting classes

pcshowtime writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

That's a fact, he demands a physical style of fb that rivals Bama. Imagine what he could do with real speed and his ability to lure power backs. I'm liking this rumor..GBO!!

He will not be able to do anything because we can not go toe to toe and out muscle bama and FL or LSU. We do not have the recruiting base. We can however spread them out and run the ball like Texas AM with johnny football, Auburn with cam Newton or Florida with Tebow. Nothing personal against you. If this was the 90's when we were getting better lineman and RB than them that would have worked.

RoyaltyVol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

That's a fact, he demands a physical style of fb that rivals Bama. Imagine what he could do with real speed and his ability to lure power backs. I'm liking this rumor..GBO!!

It may just be a rumor, but like you I'm liking it too. He could be the sleeper we've been waiting for.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Dave Hart dropped the ball with the Gruden hire.

If you know something...you need to expand on that statement. There was never a ball to drop!

RodneyHopper writes:

Pete Carroll!!!!!!!!

Lvillebill writes:

Hire Strong, bring back Chavis, keep Chaney. National Championship in 5 years.

totoiv writes:

A couple of random thoughts. I read the Tulsa paper today and it said one thing Gundy was upset about was his ability to control the football schedule. And, that he prefers to schedule patsies in non-conference games and feels that the AD is hurting Ok St. ability to succeed by scheduling Top 20 opponents. I don't know who ultimately schedules teams at UT. Hamilton took the heat for booting UNC from our schedule though he said it was at Dooley's request. If this is true, Gundy won't be happy at UT because we "typically" have a decent non-confernce schedule (Oregon next year). Though, it seems UT non-conference schedule is getting weaker.

Second, when I watched several games on Saturday - several championship games - I kept hearing players being refered to as from Tennessee. Wisconsin's QB is from Johnson City. The Chattanooga paper had an article that Tennessee High School coaches gave the last UT coaching staff a F. And, Vandy recently has had success in stealing in-state players from UT. The next coach while needing to recruit nationally must also win the State of Tennessee recruiting war also. It hurts to hear that UT's talent is not up to par, but several former Tennessee High Schoolers are playing key roles in other major conferences championship games.

BigDaddyOrange writes:

Come on ya'll!!! DAVID SHAW IS OUR MAN!!!! David Hart, Please pay attention and do what it takes to get him!!!

Razzle writes:

in response to SEAL_9821:

Larry Fedora is the next petrino or Brian Kelly. He could win big with our resources at Tennessee.

Yes, the more I hear about Fedora the more I like him.

Ares writes:

Are there any legitimate sources regarding gruden saying he was not interested?

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to Lvillebill:

Hire Strong, bring back Chavis, keep Chaney. National Championship in 5 years.

Wow. What a plan.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to SEAL_9821:

Larry Fedora is the next petrino or Brian Kelly. He could win big with our resources at Tennessee.

Yes, the more I hear about Fedora the more I like him.

-------------------------------------

Really?

claiborneh writes:

in response to Lvillebill:

Hire Strong, bring back Chavis, keep Chaney. National Championship in 5 years.

If you hire Strong, doesn't his expertise you apparently believe in choose the coordinators?
Lol

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

Every school gets "who is left", that is the nature of a coaching search. And Hart, if he chooses Strong, Fedora, Golden, Davis, Jones, or whomever, may still have gotten who he wanted but didn't figure it would hurt to see if he could shoot the moon. If he doesn't talk (or at least try) to Gruden, Fisher, Stoops, etc..., he's blasted by fans for settling on a lesser guy. If he talks to them and they don't drop everything to take the job, we are hosed and nobody wants to come to Knoxville. C'mon folks, we only want the man who wants us and we will get him. The last two searches were conducted by Hamilton, the latter hire under extreme duress caused by rushing into the former one. Hart is taking his time and doing due diligence to try and get it right. And who cares if some of the coaches he's talked to are using that to get a raise? Does that mean he shouldn't have talked to them? Relax, we'll know in a couple of days. After listening to Strong's comments, I think he's got the job unless Gundy wants it, which I doubt. Frankly, I'd rather have Strong. Go Vols!!!

I agree with everything you said, but just one little criticism. Sometimes one little conjunction can make a big difference.

"...didn't figure it could hurt to see if he could shoot the moon."

...didn't figure it could hurt to see if he could shoot FOR the moon.

See the difference? Of course, maybe he was just shooting the moon. Since Peyton did it, it's kind of a tradition I guess. haha

asleep#212036 writes:

Fedora may well be the man although he's known to completely ignore the defensive side of the ball. Uh, we've seen that movie and know how it ends in the SEC. However, were he to hire a good DC that would be OK. The other issue is that he runs a spread offense, similar to Oregon. Great you say? Remember the "Clawfense" from a few years ago? We don't have the players to run that offense and we'd be in for a couple more years of "can we make a bowl?" before things turned around, if at all at that point. I still like Charlie Strong and I still say that's who Hart is going to ultimately hire. Go Vols!!!

jbc writes:

in response to totoiv:

A couple of random thoughts. I read the Tulsa paper today and it said one thing Gundy was upset about was his ability to control the football schedule. And, that he prefers to schedule patsies in non-conference games and feels that the AD is hurting Ok St. ability to succeed by scheduling Top 20 opponents. I don't know who ultimately schedules teams at UT. Hamilton took the heat for booting UNC from our schedule though he said it was at Dooley's request. If this is true, Gundy won't be happy at UT because we "typically" have a decent non-confernce schedule (Oregon next year). Though, it seems UT non-conference schedule is getting weaker.

Second, when I watched several games on Saturday - several championship games - I kept hearing players being refered to as from Tennessee. Wisconsin's QB is from Johnson City. The Chattanooga paper had an article that Tennessee High School coaches gave the last UT coaching staff a F. And, Vandy recently has had success in stealing in-state players from UT. The next coach while needing to recruit nationally must also win the State of Tennessee recruiting war also. It hurts to hear that UT's talent is not up to par, but several former Tennessee High Schoolers are playing key roles in other major conferences championship games.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to RoyaltyVol:

I read that Tennessee is reaching out to Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, this guy has done a great job at Wisconsin. I'd take this guy over Strong and Fisher.

I was hoping to get a pro coach....But I just read Brett's bio he's my new favorite For the coaching position at Tennessee... Thats if we do go with a college coach.... I'm still hoping for Sean Payton

GO VOLS!!

tennlions writes:

in response to born2ride:

Dave Hart dropped the ball with the Gruden hire.

Gruden was never truly in play. His sights have always been set on a return to the NFL sidelines.

tennlions writes:

No matter who is the next coach, he's going to come with some significant question marks. The Sabans, Miles, Stoops, Meyers of the college coaching world are not available. Bear Bryant and General Neyland are dead. That leaves the choices a little suspect. Get used to it and support the man who chooses to come in and clean up the mess. That fact alone should be worth the fans' respect.

pcshowtime writes:

somebody tell me this Why is that Ohio St can be on probation and go out and hire someone like myer. However, if we need a guy he has to be an up and comer gamble.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

Well it appears no Jimbo fisher.
I wonder how many more of super agent Jimmy Sexton's clients Al Davis I mean Dave Hart will make sure get a raise from their current school.
folks wake up and smell the coffee:
1. Jimbo fisher represented by Jimmy Sexton
check
2. Mike Gundy represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
3. Charlie Strong represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
4. Dave hart represented by I wonder who

Or Dave Hart representing who?

pcshowtime writes:

in response to tennlions:

No matter who is the next coach, he's going to come with some significant question marks. The Sabans, Miles, Stoops, Meyers of the college coaching world are not available. Bear Bryant and General Neyland are dead. That leaves the choices a little suspect. Get used to it and support the man who chooses to come in and clean up the mess. That fact alone should be worth the fans' respect.

"Get used to it and support the man who chooses to come in and clean up the mess."
If I had a dollar every time I heard that during the dooley era I would be rich. Cleaning up this mess isn't that what everyone said dooley was doing. That is exactly what we do not need to do is blindly support a bad coach. Now if he does well then that is another story.

OrangePsyched writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

Well it appears no Jimbo fisher.
I wonder how many more of super agent Jimmy Sexton's clients Al Davis I mean Dave Hart will make sure get a raise from their current school.
folks wake up and smell the coffee:
1. Jimbo fisher represented by Jimmy Sexton
check
2. Mike Gundy represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
3. Charlie Strong represented by Jimmy Sexton
Check
4. Dave hart represented by I wonder who

Charlie Strong does not have Jimmy Sexton as his agent. He has no agent and represents himself.

BigDaddyOrange writes:

Join the bandwagon now... http://www.facebook.com/davidshaw.uts...

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Dave Hart dropped the ball with the Gruden hire.

Still having Grudengasms?

redskinvol1 writes:

SECOND TIER IS WHAT HART WANTS US TO GET!!HART IS ALL BAMMER!!

lafollette37766 writes:

Gundy would be a good choice but can UT afford him. It will cost UT 3 million to buy out his contract at OSU, on top of the 5 million owed Dooley plus the 4 million that UT could end up paying Dooleys assitants and thats not counting Gundys pay from UT. Do the math. Hiring Gundy could very well cost UT 12 million right off the bat. Kinda expensive.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

I hate it that Charlie Strong is represented by Jimmy Sexton, but I don't care. I think he'll make a fantastic coach for the Vols and actually get us playing for an SEC championship in 4 years.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

somebody tell me this Why is that Ohio St can be on probation and go out and hire someone like myer. However, if we need a guy he has to be an up and comer gamble.

Because we have an AD that has a vision of Stability instead of believing UT deserves championships. We are going to find out what Dave Hart thinks of Tennessee football with this hire. It was repeatedly said this was a critical Crossroads hire. So, if we get a B-Teamer, then Hart thinks we are a B Team program.

Ohio St expects 10 wins every year, to contend for a Big 10 Championship every year, and to be in the running for a National Championship pretty much every year. So, they hired a coach with that kind of performance.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

"Get used to it and support the man who chooses to come in and clean up the mess."
If I had a dollar every time I heard that during the dooley era I would be rich. Cleaning up this mess isn't that what everyone said dooley was doing. That is exactly what we do not need to do is blindly support a bad coach. Now if he does well then that is another story.

I totally agree. We need to hold our AD accountable. If he hires a Doofus, then I will call out every Hee Haw Hog Humpin' Huckleberry call he makes. And anyone that supports that kind of coach cannot be considered a real vol fan for life. Losing blows. Losers blow.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to Razzle:

Yes, the more I hear about Fedora the more I like him.

Fedora did an excellent job at Southern Mississippi. They were very competitive with SEC Schools. I like the idea of getting him, or someone like him. He will still be very hungry and will work hard to be successful in the SEC.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to BigDaddyOrange:

Come on ya'll!!! DAVID SHAW IS OUR MAN!!!! David Hart, Please pay attention and do what it takes to get him!!!

Could well be right. Shaw can coach.

VolsVolsVols writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

somebody tell me this Why is that Ohio St can be on probation and go out and hire someone like myer. However, if we need a guy he has to be an up and comer gamble.

Because Meyer was born and raised in Ohio. Pulled for Ohio State growing up. He got his coaching start at Ohio State. He had the coaching bug and the position was available...he couldn't pass up the opportunity.

VolsVolsVols writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

I totally agree. We need to hold our AD accountable. If he hires a Doofus, then I will call out every Hee Haw Hog Humpin' Huckleberry call he makes. And anyone that supports that kind of coach cannot be considered a real vol fan for life. Losing blows. Losers blow.

I think you need to reevaluate your priorities in life.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features