John Adams: If not Jon Gruden, how about Bobby Petrino or Tommy Tuberville?

John Adams
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, right, stands with his wife Cindy during the premier of The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story premiered at the Tennessee Theatre on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

Photo by Saul Young

ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, right, stands with his wife Cindy during the premier of The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story premiered at the Tennessee Theatre on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

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Although Tennessee has yet to announce football coach Derek Dooley will not return for a fourth season, let's not get bogged down with formalities. At some point, Tennessee will announce the obvious, and the pursuit of another coach finally will become official.

Some fans apparently believe the pursuit already has succeeded, and that Jon Gruden has agreed to become the next coach once a few trivial details are worked out. I applaud the possibility in that Gruden would give UT a Super Bowl-winning coach as well as a national celebrity — not a bad combination for a football program whose relevance is receding by the game.

In fact, hiring Gruden make so much sense, I would be OK with him bringing along Mike Tirico, his booth buddy on "Monday Night Football," as defensive coordinator. And if they want to coach Saturday's game against Vanderbilt, so much the better.

But suppose, for some bizarre reason, the Gruden-to-Tennessee deal falls through. Then, where would UT athletic director Dave Hart look?

Hint: As of this writing, Bobby Petrino is still out of work (he won't be for long).

I realize some people are offended by the circumstances that resulted in the former Arkansas coach being unemployed. The synopsis: He had an affair with a young woman whom he also put on the back of his motorcycle as well as the athletic department's payroll. One more thing: He lied about the relationship to his boss.

Counterpoint: He wins games. Lots of them.

In weighing Petrino's off-the-field baggage against his on-the-field success, it's worth noting that he isn't the first prominent coach to socialize with a woman outside his immediate household. It's also worth mentioning that lying is simply a business technique for most coaches.

But it's not as though you would be asking Petrino to marry you or baby-sit your kids. You would just be asking him to do a job.

Do you check the integrity of your pest-control guy? Do you do a background check on your roofer? And in your last conscious thought before the anesthesia is administered, do you wonder about your surgeon's character or his skill?

I don't mean to dismiss integrity as a virtue. I just want to put the situation in perspective.

UT football is in danger of falling off the national map. It's on the verge of four losing seasons in five years. It can't afford to make the wrong hire.

Based on what Petrino accomplished at Arkansas, UT would be foolish not to consider him. He faced some of the same challenges there that he would face at Tennessee yet succeeded quickly and dramatically, improving Arkansas' record in each of his four seasons and taking it to a No. 5 national ranking in his last year.

Whom else that UT could get (not counting Gruden, of course) has better credentials for the UT job?

There's nothing wrong with Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville's credentials, unless you are disturbed by the video that shows him slapping an assistant coach upside the headphones during Saturday's victory over Kansas. Of course, some UT fans might find that appealing, given their current lack of affection for UT's defensive staff.

Tuberville rebuilt Ole Miss from the ruins of NCAA probation in the late 1990s. He led Auburn to an unbeaten season in 2004 and is 20-15 in three seasons at Texas Tech. Moreover, he's good in big games — and against big-time coaches (see Nick Saban for details).

Maybe UT would prefer someone younger (Tuberville is 58). But I would be more concerned about a coach's lack of experience than his age.

UT should be looking for someone who has proved himself in a couple of programs, not for a couple of seasons.

This isn't a job for an up-comer. Tennessee needs a proven winner.

And if the coach is a proven winner in the SEC, that's even better.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 347

BankerVol writes:

What a waste of time that read was.

61NCVol writes:

John:
I finally understand why so many in Knoxville despise you.

VolunTenMile writes:

Petrino = Kiffin with lower ethical standards. Don't go there, Vols!!!!!

vettefool writes:

is that the best we can do? surely there is a better option for this dumpster fire.

GburgOrange writes:

John Chavis. Defense anyone.

walt2010 writes:

Not crazy about Tuberville - though he was good in big games, he also had a penchant for losing a couple games most years that his team had no business losing.

If we can't get Gruden or Patterson, Petrino would be a great choice. Adams makes some pretty strong points regarding what the job is and isn't; if we as a nation can re-elect a president who had admitted to an affair with an intern, I think Vol fans can suffer through competing for SEC and national championships.

Finally, people do from time to time learn from their mistakes - Metta World Used-to-be-able-to-ball, for instance, hasn't jumped into the stands in a few years now. Pac Man Jones hasn't been arrested in a strip joint lately. I think Petrino is as least as smart as Metta and Pac Man. There's at least a small chance he might be really grateful for being hired to the top open job in college football and might labor to earn the trust the university had bestowed upon him. And if he could take Arkansas to a top-five ranking while being distracted with motorcycle rides, imagine what he could do if he did turn over a new leaf and was channeling all of his energy into his job.

Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

PUL4VOLS writes:

Gruden would already be hired if he was coming, don't think so. As for Petrino, what has he done? Oh yeah a good offense, but how many championships has he won? .....I didn't think so. How good have his defenses been?....So NO to Petrino. Tubberville? Hah, he has it too good in Lubbock. It will have to be someone else and that someone else may or may not be proven. If not, strap in for more mediocre years. I have no idea where this is headed but I venture to guess that initially the Vols are not a lot better, coachwise in 2013 than in 2012. The new coach will not have quite the mess formerly inherited but that will not matter to anyone if he doesn't compete for the SEC East in two years.

UTBEATEMALL writes:

Petrino still hasn't won anything and he has a history of making ADs and GMs look like fools for trusting him. Tubberville is a non-starter as well. UT needs to get someone young and exciting like a Kliff Kingsbury or someone with championship cache. I think they should go off the board, keep the offensive staff, and rock college football by offering Ray Lewis a deal that's hard to pass up. It's crazy until you think we'd do the same thing with Peyton. He would make UT a destination spot for most recruits. He would do the three things that head coaches need to do: RECRUIT five star talent (coaches and players), energize the program, and relate with today's kid to teach them how to be a man. If not Lewis then it's imperative to choose a coach that calls his own offense. That essentially saves you the money and postion of OC. That allow you to essentially have one more position coach and higher pay for the staff.

buxavol writes:

Based on Adams' logic, Summerlin was a bad hire at A&M ("UT should be looking for someone who has proved himself in a couple of programs, not for a couple of seasons."). I'll just throw out Charlie Strong as an option, if Arkansas doesn't wrap him up first.
I don't care if they hire Santa Claus, as long as he runs a clean program & wins games!!

easttnvol21 writes:

You've got to be kidding me? Petrino or Tubberville? Is that what we are left with? Let's see how desperate we can possible be---Petrino? Seriously? You think he's the answer? NO---If John Adams wants to hire a someone who can't keep it in his pants and is a liar then fine---hire him to write your sad little stories. But, please spare me with the Petrino garbage. Why not just hire Ara Parsegian or Bobby Bowden. Good lord.................

volsguy16 writes:

i could care less what petrino has done in his personal life. if he wins bring him in. to heck with integrity and lets win some games. same with players. if they want to rob, steal, beat eachother up, who cares. just win! win, win, win, win. i could give 2 craps what these kids and coaches do off of the field. if they are winning then the more the merrier!

PUL4VOLS writes:

in response to walt2010:

Not crazy about Tuberville - though he was good in big games, he also had a penchant for losing a couple games most years that his team had no business losing.

If we can't get Gruden or Patterson, Petrino would be a great choice. Adams makes some pretty strong points regarding what the job is and isn't; if we as a nation can re-elect a president who had admitted to an affair with an intern, I think Vol fans can suffer through competing for SEC and national championships.

Finally, people do from time to time learn from their mistakes - Metta World Used-to-be-able-to-ball, for instance, hasn't jumped into the stands in a few years now. Pac Man Jones hasn't been arrested in a strip joint lately. I think Petrino is as least as smart as Metta and Pac Man. There's at least a small chance he might be really grateful for being hired to the top open job in college football and might labor to earn the trust the university had bestowed upon him. And if he could take Arkansas to a top-five ranking while being distracted with motorcycle rides, imagine what he could do if he did turn over a new leaf and was channeling all of his energy into his job.

Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

The context of Matthew 7:1 has nothing to do with the hiring of a man who lied and committed adultery. It was pointed directly to a hypocritical group who demanded others to keep rules they themselves scoffed at. I for one do not lie to my employer nor commit adultery. So when I have problems with a guy who did, I am not judging, Walt. You sure render a lot of judgmentalism on posts I have seen from you. UT does not need Petrino. Let him make Kentucky a 7 to 8 game winner per year.

pingkr62 writes:

I say none of the above. There are other alternatives.

golfman1975 writes:

Tell me what coach would like to come in and take on the schedule we have in the coming years? It will be a tough sell.

VOLFAN4LIFEINFLA writes:

1) Keep Coach Dooley
2) Hire a new defensive coordinator
3) If we had Justin Wilcox this season it would be a totally different outlook on this season.
4) Try to hire John Chavis back to where his heart is in Knoxville.
5) Fire JOHN ADAMS!!

FlaVol2 writes:

Adams you are a worse hate monger than any Iranian henchman. Why don't you go back to Louisiana or wherever you came from. You do not fit in here. The worst thing that can happen to us Vol supporters is another set of new coaches. We would be moving way backward instead of forward. Enough is enough! Pack your bag and go elsewhere.

Bellyputter9 writes:

Why Dooley has not already been fired is a good question but why anybody would consider Petrino for us is beyond me. Why does this writer think that character and integrity are not important for someone entrusted with the develop of young men? His line of thinking is the problem.

aspenvol2 writes:

Adams, we don't expect you to understand why Tennessee wouldn't hire Petrino, but just shut up.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

Tell me what coach would like to come in and take on the schedule we have in the coming years? It will be a tough sell.

A confident and competent coach won't balk at taking a job just because of their schedule. If a coach did, who in their right mind would hire him in the first place.

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Petrino is an absolute NO, I dont feel like Tuberville is the person to right the ship, I just keep going back to Hart having the inside track on Kirby Smart. I'm not saying I agree with the hire, but I believe Smart is Hart's guy.

RoyaltyVol writes:

in response to GburgOrange:

John Chavis. Defense anyone.

Chavis would be a great hire if UT was already a good team but this hire needs to be a big name who can win, recruit, and rebuild and do it quickly

OLROCKYTOP writes:

in response to GburgOrange:

John Chavis. Defense anyone.

Chavis coming back would be great, but no one from the Fulmer days are even part of the football program anymore. I just don't see it happening.

Razor784 writes:

Petrino is gonna have a really tough time recruiting wherever he's at. Tuberville is still a decent coach, but I still say UT can make a better hire with more upside than either of these guys.

movol53 writes:

Sorry but I would not let the ex Arkansas motorcycle daredevil into my home to recruit my son. What a role model he would make!!!

Vol70 writes:

in response to VolunTenMile:

Petrino = Kiffin with lower ethical standards. Don't go there, Vols!!!!!

I couldn't agree more. Kiffin single handedly turned our program into a dumpster fire, and he looks like a saint next to Petrino.
Did anyone here enjoy our program being dragged through the mud when Kiffin was here, all over the news? Get ready for more of it if Petrino is who we aspire for...

fearthehound writes:

Being a newsman, you're not supposed to be an advocate one way or the other, but I guess I wouldn't expect you to know that. After all, you're about as much a newsman as Dooley is an SEC coach.

VolinCalif writes:

Well John and guys.
I think everyone would love Gruden, but have to think if it were going to happen it would be a done deal by now. As for Tubberville we could do worse but I think he is happy. Petrino? Why not Joker P. because that is who Petrino will replace this year. His state and area and he fits in like a clock at Ky. The comment about Bobby B. isn't too far fetched because the man can coach just not a big time winner. But like Lane he could bring along his Dad. Patterson sounds pretty good.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to pingkr62:

A confident and competent coach won't balk at taking a job just because of their schedule. If a coach did, who in their right mind would hire him in the first place.

Im sure you are right...our fans are very patient.

ashvol7 writes:

in response to GburgOrange:

John Chavis. Defense anyone.

He has had no head coaching experience, on top of that remember the prevent defense. Remember LSU several years back at Neyland staduim, I think LSU took the ball at their 12 yard line and drove the ball down our throat and won. That was against the chiefs defense. ask LSU about the prevent defense in the loss to Alabama. Leave him where he is.

jimmyrayvol writes:

Ridiculous! Not worth the argument. Cut him loose and move to someone STRONG! Ge it? Tuberville would have been great after the great Phillip Fulmer, but now we need something new, our own, and our next great legend.

VolVox writes:

They're not babysitting, exactly, but they're certainly responsible for a lot more than just "doing a job." Did Penn State teach us nothing? (I am in no way comparing either Petrino or Tuberville to Sandusky; the point is that these guys can have a huge impact of the lives of these young men.) I am not judging Petrino for his affair, but getting his mistress the job with the school without going through proper channels and lying to his administration are very much job related. No thanks. I was not comfortable with the way Tuberville recruited at Auburn. I think we should've learned our lesson with Kiffin, who is now on ultra-thin ice at USC. We will have other options.

West10Vol writes:

Quick! Someone check Adams' travel schedule, I think he just returned from CO with a case of weed!!!

cgbtn writes:

I can't believe readers actually thought Adams was recommending those two coaches-- or Gruden for that matter. He was making fun of us a obsessed idiots.

easttnvol21 writes:

If we hire Petrino or Tubberville the games can be moved to Knox West High School and Neyland Stadium can be used for dirt racing, monster truck shows or horse shows.

utbaby#215635 writes:

Any one catch the closing remarks on Sports Reporters today? Female reported from NY Times completely called out Kiffen for the unethical twitt he is. I've never seen her on Sports Reporters before, but I became an instand fan. Never though a female sports writer from NYT could nail Kiffen like that, but have to give her credit. If you didn't see it, you should.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

You're right, Adams. Petrino didn't lie about anything important...like hotdogs. If it were hotdogs, then that would be lot more of a bad influence on our student athletes.

Last I checked my roofer and my pest-control guy don't influence my kids. Seriously, are you drunk?

fearthehound writes:

in response to cgbtn:

I can't believe readers actually thought Adams was recommending those two coaches-- or Gruden for that matter. He was making fun of us a obsessed idiots.

BS. I think you think you're a bit deeper than you are. He's recommending we hire Petrino, which I gotta say may not be a bad idea, but let's not say he's saying something different.

DonK37920 writes:

With our new facilities and current roster, we are in much better shape than we were for the last two hires. Not saying I want him but I'd take Fulmer back before I took one of those retreads without a ring.
However, we will get a great proven coach this time because coaches will be lining up. Hope Hart doesn't have his mind set of Smart because I have my doubts about him also.

Vol-Believr writes:

Bobby Petrino is a piece of garbage. If we head down that road , we may as well beg Lame to come back .

I would back up the Brinks Truck to Bob Stoops and get it done.

absgovols writes:

in response to cgbtn:

I can't believe readers actually thought Adams was recommending those two coaches-- or Gruden for that matter. He was making fun of us a obsessed idiots.

Hey cgbtn, I did not quite get your last sentence but I do not believe I am part of your "us". I thought Mr. Adams was using his Bully Pulpit to give a "shout out" for two of his friends for the potential opening...

FWBVol writes:

John, a smart home owner would check the background of the roofer to make sure he is dependable and does the job he's hired to do in a timely fashion and hasn't cheated any of the other people he's worked for.

That aside, a roofer or surgeon isn't going to be the most visible person at the university or perhaps even in the state. I'm not saying we need to have someone that is squeeky clean, but we need to have a man of integrity that can lead the players on and off the field.

As others have said, Petrino has never won a championship and he quit on Louisville and Atlanta. Yeah, I know he left Louisville to go to Atlanta, but he tried to backdoor his way into the Auburn job while he was still under contract with Louisville.

Petrino will, undoubtably, find another job, but Tennessee doesn't need him and we can do much better.

msinva writes:

I can't believe it, but I agree with everything in this column. Yes, we should think about Patrino. Then after the shutter through our body stops and we slap ourselves we should hire Tuberville in a heart beat. If only Pete the cheat had run off from USC two weeks sooner, we could have got Tuberville before TT, and CDD would never have been considered. I appreciate the work CDD has done to clean up our off the field issues, but this defensive disaster is beyond belief, so I don't want Kirby Smart or any more Bama hand me downs. I want a guy who knows how to win in this conference and who has a proven record against Saban, Spurrier, Fulmer, and Richt.

pcorange writes:

I'd just as soon keep Dooley and keep losing as to have Bobby Petrino for a coach here. Dooley is a losing coach, but Petrino is a scumbag. We can, and hopefully will, do better.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I heard two weeks ago Dooley would be forced out immediately after the UK game. There's no reason to think he's staying under any scenario, and after his coaching choke job against Mizzou he needs to hit the road. UT needs a dynamic personality that knows how to put together a good staff and will relate to these young HS kids. Hmmmmm?

Hodgie writes:

Mr. Adams, if it were your beloved LSU Tigers in this position, of course they would court Bobby Petrino. This is Tennessee. Morality still matters.

Vol-Believr writes:

Bobby Petrino is a piece of garbage. If we head down that road ,we may as well beg Lame back . I say back up the Brinks truck to Bob Stoops and get it done .

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

No Thanks!

rabblerowser writes:

in response to volsguy16:

i could care less what petrino has done in his personal life. if he wins bring him in. to heck with integrity and lets win some games. same with players. if they want to rob, steal, beat eachother up, who cares. just win! win, win, win, win. i could give 2 craps what these kids and coaches do off of the field. if they are winning then the more the merrier!

Win at all costs... Lets just pay players while we are at it... The bigger bonuses get the better recruits... And when we get them, no need to make them go to class... A's in all classes, who cares if they learn... Why for goodness sake do we even need to have classes...lets just have a football team and call it UT? You make good sense

bmaples writes:

As someone who was here for all four years of Petrino-Ball, I think I have some perspective into that possible hire:

PROS
====
-- Bobby Petrino is an offensive genius. I mean that. His offense looks like someone playing a video game against a bad opponent. We came to EXPECT 50 points every game.
-- He is an absolute taskmaster on the practice field. He expects routes to be run to the inch, and if you don't do it right you don't play.
-- He recruits well, and apparently polishes up well for the visits in the home.
-- He wins. If not for one bad half at Rutgers in 2006, Louisville would have played for the national championship, or at least been in the discussion.

CONS
====
-- He lies. I don't mean sorta, I mean flat-out lies. The classic was when he told the local media how happy he was here and how he wanted to stay forever, knowing he had an appointment with the Auburn AD the next day. He pulled this cr*p so often that we finally just assumed he was lying whenever he spoke.
-- Along with that, he is not loyal. To anyone. The Louisville AD did everything but give him a gold toilet, and it wasn't enough. Tommy Tuberville was his mentor, but Petrino interviewed for Tuberville's job while Tommy was still hired.
-- He is not warm and fuzzy with anyone. Not players, not fans, not boosters, not administrators. If you are looking for someone to glad-hand the givers, look somewhere else.

Is it possible he has learned from his amazing stupidity at Arkansas? Perhaps. At this point, though, I'd like to see it played out, rather than just words at a press conference.

Surely, somewhere there is a coach who both wins and tells the truth.

Bruce in Louisville

sameolvolalum writes:

Well, sports fans; I guess we'll all find out when we find out. If the trolls are (temporarily) sated, they'll switch their sour grapes to Cuonzo or Holly...then they'll begin spitting seeds about whoever takes over @ football....and the world keeps aturnin'.

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