John Adams: Eliminating UT candidates easier than hiring one

John Adams
Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, left, and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, right, talk before the start of their NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, left, and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, right, talk before the start of their NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

As Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart began his search for a football coach this week, I began one of my own.

Our searches are not without common ground (neither of us will use a search committee). They will have their differences, though.

Hart can actually hire someone. As of this writing, I don't have that authority.

Our processes also will vary. While he likely will assemble a list of candidates and proceed from there, I believe in the process of elimination.

Some fans are way ahead of me, having already eliminated anyone not named "Jon Gruden." I'll try to catch up.

All assistants: Hart has stressed the importance of head-coaching experience in seeking Derek Dooley's replacement.

High school coaches: Gerry Faust didn't work out at Notre Dame.

Small-college coaches: The sheer size of Neyland Stadium would be a distraction for them.

Anyone who left his last job amidst a scandal: With one exception: Bobby Petrino.

Coaches in the NCAA doghouse: While Tennessee is on probation, its fans shouldn't even mention Jim Tressel or Butch Davis in emails.

A coach who might leave for USC: So much for Washington's Steve Sarkisian.

Anyone from the Sun Belt: I don't care how many yards Troy gained.

A non-BCS coach who could have a losing season.

Big Ten, Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference coaches who could have a losing season.

Any Pac-12 or SEC coach with five or fewer wins this season: Even if he won a national title two years ago.

Service-academy coaches: They travel in different recruiting circles than SEC coaches.

Any coach with a father for his defensive coordinator.

Any coach who has contributed to UT's current state: Remember Dave Clawson?

Coaches with a better job: If Bob Stoops left Oklahoma for UT, his sanity would be questioned.

Coaches rumored to belong to the Church of Scientology: Boise State's Chris Peterson is a terrific coach, but opposing recruiters would hammer him with that in the Bible Belt.

Coaches with fewer than three years experience: Not long enough for the UT job.

Successful coaches who have been somewhere too long or too short: With one exception: Jim Mora Jr. of UCLA.

A coach whose team has thrown fewer than five passes in a game: Even though Georgia Tech's triple option is fun to watch.

A coach fired by a school before he coached a game: See George O'Leary's resume for details.

Someone named "Dabo": Just a matter of personal preference.

Someone named "Bret Bielema": Again, personal preference.

A coach who lost to UT this season: Even if he beat Florida State.

A coach who lost to a team that lost to UT: Besides, Jimbo Fisher has underachieved at Florida State.

A Louisiana Tech coach: See UT's last hire.

A coach fired by the same school he led to the BCS championship game: Larry Coker of Texas-San Antonio and Frank Solich of Ohio University know about that.

A coach who treats concussions by confining players to a shed: Washington State can hire eccentric coaches; UT can't.

Coaches with an overall losing record: That includes Miami's Al Golden.

And it leaves me with Larry Fedora, North Carolina; Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech; Gary Patterson, TCU; Art Briles, Baylor; Charlie Strong, Louisville; Butch Jones, Cincinnati; Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; James Franklin, Vanderbilt; Dan Mullen, Mississippi State; Mora; and Petrino.

That's just my FBS list. Gruden is still on my pro-coach-wanting-to-go-back-to-college list, So are Tony Dungy and Bill Cowher.

I'll narrow the list in the next few days. You think Hart is this far along?

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 » 183

Big_Orange_Aide writes:

Hopefully, Gruden is the guy. He will instantly attract the five and four stars from all areas of the US; he will also know who to hire to fill out his staff. UT would be in the top five of coaching staffs in the the nation.

tenndave writes:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

jone8191#247590 writes:

I wasn't on board with this Gruden stuff initially but it is kind of like being in Knoxville on a game Friday and Saturday. Everybody is wearing orange, all they talk about is the Vols and pretty soon you are caught up in the tidal wave. So it is with Gruden. If he has absolutely no interest in Tennessee, shouldn't there be a forceful denial in the next couple of days? I guess at this point, silence is golden.....I mean Gruden.

CroKev writes:

Dooley is still a better coach than Adams is a writer...

Big_Orange_Aide writes:

in response to tenndave:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

Isn't that the concern with any coach anywhere? Sure, maybe Saban is the guy in college that can outlast the others or Bellicheck (sp?) is the guy in the NFL who has proven to be special but who else do you throw the big money at in our position to do something special. That's what we're looking at here, something special. Gruden walks in to a recruits home with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, electric personality, and no major baggage to speak of. Apparantly, Arky was thinking the same thing; they have already offered him before anyone else.

VolinCalif writes:

John I really like your logic. But I believe that the booster money will play a very large part in who UT hires this time around. Therefore I would not eliminate any Pro coach at this time.
I do like a few you mentioned +1. Mora,Patterson, Jones, Fitzgerald and the Standford coach Shaw. I wouldn't remove Petrino from this list because of his personal issues because the man can coach and we need that badly.

CarolinaVol2281 writes:

UT' s last 5 years has been a series of unbelievable nightmares. If Gruden is hired, all is forgotten, the athletic dept deficit is automatically erased by tickets/merchandise/etc, recruiting turns around, Tennessee's nationalmperception turns positive, and the fan base can actually be optimistic for the first time since 2008 (maybe earlier). The candidates listed above are all top notchand I have no doubt they could turn the program around...6-6 next year, 7-5 the year after, then maybe 9-3 in year 3. All three of seasons would be the best season since 2007. So these coaches could win over the base and produce positive things in3 years...but Gruden turns it around over night, whether he can win or not.

pcorange writes:

in response to jone8191#247590:

I wasn't on board with this Gruden stuff initially but it is kind of like being in Knoxville on a game Friday and Saturday. Everybody is wearing orange, all they talk about is the Vols and pretty soon you are caught up in the tidal wave. So it is with Gruden. If he has absolutely no interest in Tennessee, shouldn't there be a forceful denial in the next couple of days? I guess at this point, silence is golden.....I mean Gruden.

Good point about the denial. I can understand that he wouldn't comment one way or the other as long as Coach Dooley was still employed, but now that the coast is clear, if he weren't interested it looks like he would do what Cutcliffe did and just take his name out of the hat. I do think Gruden is probably toying with us a little bit, though. He's got the offer from Arkansas on the table, and he will probably wait and see what NFL offers he may receive in the next few weeks before he makes up his mind. If we do get him, it probably won't be cheap.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Gerry Faust was a ND hire that reminded me of Derek Dooley..A great person that represented the university with class, but was not ready for big time college football..Gruden would not only instantly put UT back on the map, he's a superstar in his own right. Where in the country besides Saban at bammer do you have a superstar HC?? JG would energize the fb program like Pearl did with the bb program.

Chope writes:

in response to CarolinaVol2281:

UT' s last 5 years has been a series of unbelievable nightmares. If Gruden is hired, all is forgotten, the athletic dept deficit is automatically erased by tickets/merchandise/etc, recruiting turns around, Tennessee's nationalmperception turns positive, and the fan base can actually be optimistic for the first time since 2008 (maybe earlier). The candidates listed above are all top notchand I have no doubt they could turn the program around...6-6 next year, 7-5 the year after, then maybe 9-3 in year 3. All three of seasons would be the best season since 2007. So these coaches could win over the base and produce positive things in3 years...but Gruden turns it around over night, whether he can win or not.

I do thin with Gruden you could turn a mediocre recruiting class into a great one real quickly. Basically that is going to be what it takes, get back to having as good of players as the teams we play.

dk writes:

in response to CroKev:

Dooley is still a better coach than Adams is a writer...

This is one of the funniest posts that I have ever seen. I really enjoyed it. Thumbs up!

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to pcorange:

Good point about the denial. I can understand that he wouldn't comment one way or the other as long as Coach Dooley was still employed, but now that the coast is clear, if he weren't interested it looks like he would do what Cutcliffe did and just take his name out of the hat. I do think Gruden is probably toying with us a little bit, though. He's got the offer from Arkansas on the table, and he will probably wait and see what NFL offers he may receive in the next few weeks before he makes up his mind. If we do get him, it probably won't be cheap.

Because denial stops the money trane. I have no idea if Gruden would coach college or NFL or whatever but the more he is "rumored", the more his price tag goes up. He would be foolish to end the rumors.

DownTheField15 writes:

I'm a bit surprised Gus Malzahn isn't getting any mentions (that I have seen anyway) in this search. He doesn't have a long HC resume or the WOW factor of some of the coaches mentioned, but I think he would be a solid coach.

vols2016 writes:

I personally eliminate Petrino because the three previous places he has coached at have come out worse than before he came (Louisville, Atlanta Falcons, and Arkansas). UT can't afford another coach like that. My top 3 realistic big hires would be: 3. Art Briles, 2. Charlie Strong, 1. Gary Patterson. Patterson is a little questionable because I'm not so sure he would leave TCU, but it's more realistic than Gruden or Stoops. Finally, if those three or any other big names aren't hired, I say we look at Tubberville as a 3 to 4 year solution. He would put us in a better place later on to make a big hire once he leaves. Go Vols!

Colliervol writes:

For a "WOW" hire nationally, nothing would beat Gruden. That said, if he decides to stay where he is, I hope they (pardon the pun) strongly consider Charlie Strong. I like what I hear about him and he has an excellent pipeline into Florida recruiting. Also a really good defensive coach, something we've been lacking for years.

crutch1966 writes:

man. tony dungy would be awesome.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to tenndave:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

So I guess Phillip Fulmer would fail at coaching high school football in your words?

Razzle writes:

in response to tenndave:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

You're leery if Gruden could recruit? Seems to me that would a strong suit.

born2ride writes:

Gruden = Kiffin

I hope we don't get Chucky.

creekroad writes:

in response to CroKev:

Dooley is still a better coach than Adams is a writer...

Best post I have ever seen....absolutely spot on!!!

Razzle writes:

in response to born2ride:

Gruden = Kiffin

I hope we don't get Chucky.

I don't get your analogy.

spoolingup writes:

Gruden's not coming folks. Move on.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to born2ride:

Gruden = Kiffin

I hope we don't get Chucky.

Aren't you the Einstein that suggested Trooper Taylor? Silence..

txvolsfan writes:

in response to tenndave:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

I'm scared of everyone on the list in some way but we need the instant credibility he would bring. He would bring in big name recruits and let's face IT, you win more games with better players. That has never changed!!!
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

DownTheField15 writes:

Other than Gruden or Petrino, the name I like most on Adams' list is Tommy Tuberville. He took over two SEC whipping boys and made good programs out of both of them. UT is in as bad a state as either Ole Miss or Auburn were when he took over. I would argue we are worse than those schools were. If we get Gruden, the attention he will bring to the program may actually work against us. Same for Petrino. UT is going to be under a microscope in any case, so I think a solid, proven coach like Tuberville can do a lot to bring stability to the program.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to DownTheField15:

Other than Gruden or Petrino, the name I like most on Adams' list is Tommy Tuberville. He took over two SEC whipping boys and made good programs out of both of them. UT is in as bad a state as either Ole Miss or Auburn were when he took over. I would argue we are worse than those schools were. If we get Gruden, the attention he will bring to the program may actually work against us. Same for Petrino. UT is going to be under a microscope in any case, so I think a solid, proven coach like Tuberville can do a lot to bring stability to the program.

Whatever mojo Tommy had he has lost it at Tech..His team can't stop anybody and his meltdown on a GA last week may mean an early retirement for an OC/uptight coach.

DownTheField15 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Whatever mojo Tommy had he has lost it at Tech..His team can't stop anybody and his meltdown on a GA last week may mean an early retirement for an OC/uptight coach.

I don't like the b---h-slapping incident, but I do like the passion. I know of a certain DC who could have stood to be hit with Dooley's cane this season.

BigOrangeRock writes:

Fire Kesling. Hire Fulmer.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to DownTheField15:

I don't like the b---h-slapping incident, but I do like the passion. I know of a certain DC who could have stood to be hit with Dooley's cane this season.

Hey, I'm 50 yrs old..I grew up in the era where coaches shook face masks and kicked you in the rump and called you everything but a child of God. However, that kind of coaching doesn't translate to modern day athletes that have never been disciplined by their parents, much less a coach or teacher.

Razor784 writes:

in response to DownTheField15:

I'm a bit surprised Gus Malzahn isn't getting any mentions (that I have seen anyway) in this search. He doesn't have a long HC resume or the WOW factor of some of the coaches mentioned, but I think he would be a solid coach.

This would be my pick, the guy has been hugely successful at whatever he's done, I think the only reason he's not mentioned is because he's still in his 1st year as a college HC. He's gonna be an awesome hire for someone in a couple of years, I just hope it's not in the SEC

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Razor784:

This would be my pick, the guy has been hugely successful at whatever he's done, I think the only reason he's not mentioned is because he's still in his 1st year as a college HC. He's gonna be an awesome hire for someone in a couple of years, I just hope it's not in the SEC

Decent post. I have seen his name mentioned by many but "3 years minimum" was stated so He could not include Malzahn.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Razor784:

This would be my pick, the guy has been hugely successful at whatever he's done, I think the only reason he's not mentioned is because he's still in his 1st year as a college HC. He's gonna be an awesome hire for someone in a couple of years, I just hope it's not in the SEC

Gus turned down Vandy when they offered 3 million a year..Now he's at Arky St and he makes a 1/3 of that salary..I believe Gus wants to stay in Arkansas and probably wants to eventually end up in Fayetteville.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to crutch1966:

man. tony dungy would be awesome.

He would, but he is not a candidate. Gruden is the target at this time.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Whatever mojo Tommy had he has lost it at Tech..His team can't stop anybody and his meltdown on a GA last week may mean an early retirement for an OC/uptight coach.

"his meltdown on a GA last week may mean an early retirement for an OC/uptight coach.'

Unacceptable behavior from a HC , regardless of the passion.
I don't think I could've reacted with as much class as the GA did.
If I were in that position there probably would've been two headsets on the ground.

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

I have a dream scenario that might not be cheap, but tell me it wouldn't be awesome.....

Head Coach- Jon Gruden
Offensive Coordinator- Jeff Tedford
Defensive Coordinator- Gene Chizik

We'd have Tedford who could use inroads to recruiting some west coast talent, chizik could spring us a few deep south gems.... not to mention both were excellent coordinators and at one point were good head coaches too...maybe a step back in responsibility would benefit them greatly!

OwensboroVol writes:

I said before that if Hart was not ready to name a new coach very quickly that the insults to my beloved University of Tennessee would start. They have. Dave Cutclife signed a contract extension at Duke today. I feel violated when these coaches use our situation to benefit themselves financially. If Hart doesn't name a coach very shortly it will only get worse until we are the laughing stocks of the entire NCAA. Half of the coaches in this country will leverage UT to get a big raise and then laugh about it.
Something like this has to be done professionally, but you cannot take forever. If a new coach is not named this week we will lose the chance of getting a decent coach because nobody wants to be the coach at the University of Joke.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to tenndave:

Are you not worried about Gruden. Sure he won 2 super bowls with teams stocked ahead of his time and then during his tenure, they failed to continue to produce. I like him but I am a little leary about whether he can recruit. Maybe I am wrong but just don't go head over heels about him.

Coach Jon Gruden has the IT Factor! Just like Saban. Meyer, Kelly, Etc! These coaches have NO Magic Dust or Secret Weapons, THEY have the IT Factor, that's it!

Coach Jon Gruden has the IT Factor and will SLAY Recruiting in the NCAA at The University of Tennessee as OUR Head Football Coach!

Biggest Thing Since NEYLAND!

GO VOLS, ALWAYS!

chinarobert writes:

Not Petrino. NO NO NO

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Gus turned down Vandy when they offered 3 million a year..Now he's at Arky St and he makes a 1/3 of that salary..I believe Gus wants to stay in Arkansas and probably wants to eventually end up in Fayetteville.

In all fairness, turning down Vandy is well...
I am sure some Vandy fan will attack me for this because they did have "A" win recently but the point stands.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

"his meltdown on a GA last week may mean an early retirement for an OC/uptight coach.'

Unacceptable behavior from a HC , regardless of the passion.
I don't think I could've reacted with as much class as the GA did.
If I were in that position there probably would've been two headsets on the ground.

That was very Spurrier-esque circa 1994..lol

Volman2012dc writes:

So anyone a vol fan buying OK is a better job.. Only if you are a nut would you even think such a thought.. UT is a much better job than any school .. Sure done have near recruits but uT has won big by getting kids all over the nation.. I doubt if these other schools had to reley on outofstate talent they would hbe won as many games.. So John sit there and spin your junk.. It's free is the only reason we would even consider reading it..

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Gus turned down Vandy when they offered 3 million a year..Now he's at Arky St and he makes a 1/3 of that salary..I believe Gus wants to stay in Arkansas and probably wants to eventually end up in Fayetteville.

What does Frankenstein get for his appearance on West End?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

What does Frankenstein get for his appearance on West End?

An angry mob with torches..

cgbtn writes:

Nobody commenting on Vol boards seems to like James Franklin, but I am an exception. He has done a fantastic job at Vandy. We talk about what a bad situation Dooley inherited, but what Dooley inherited was good enough to beat what Franklin inherited for two years. According to the TV announcers for the Vandy game, Vandy now has nine 4-stars committed. I am old enough to remember every Tennessee coach back to Neyland, and except for the General himself, I don't think any of them could have done what Franklin has done.

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

An angry mob with torches..

The "Show Your Gold" crowd would never allow themselves to be described as a mob and certainly would not carry anything that they can hire someone else to do. Seriously, any idea of his contract there?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

In all fairness, turning down Vandy is well...
I am sure some Vandy fan will attack me for this because they did have "A" win recently but the point stands.

Still it's in the SEC and they are 10 times the job ASU will ever be..That was still funny though.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to cgbtn:

Nobody commenting on Vol boards seems to like James Franklin, but I am an exception. He has done a fantastic job at Vandy. We talk about what a bad situation Dooley inherited, but what Dooley inherited was good enough to beat what Franklin inherited for two years. According to the TV announcers for the Vandy game, Vandy now has nine 4-stars committed. I am old enough to remember every Tennessee coach back to Neyland, and except for the General himself, I don't think any of them could have done what Franklin has done.

This is an opinion only but I have read no posts implying Franklin can't coach, just remarks about his personality. (See Petrino) It is a personal preference in regards to wins v morals.

Vols_fan_27 writes:

Sorry, and I know there are some that will disagree, but Gruden is not our answer. His name will work for a year or 2 but there is nothing that says 1: that he wants to come to college (I look for him to land in San Diego if he wants to coach again) and 2: he will be successful once here. People have this unrealistic notion that he is going to automatically produce championships within the first couple of years.... just not going to happen... I'm sorry, I am just not sold on a guy that has a career .540 win percentage to be the next leader of this team. We need a proven winner at the college level. Someone who has done more with less and been successful. Someone with Tennessee and/or SEC ties that knows what its like to compete in this conference week in and week out... I still think Charlie Strong is a strong option that deserves being looked at... Either way, GBO!

underthehill writes:

Interesting Adams would include Franklin on his list..if reports are accurate that Vandy is a private school and does not disclose but Franklin may be making as much as 3 mil..I don't think UT would give him the opportunity to turn them down..and I doubt Franklin would keep an offer confidential..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

The "Show Your Gold" crowd would never allow themselves to be described as a mob and certainly would not carry anything that they can hire someone else to do. Seriously, any idea of his contract there?

3 million a year with a little pepper on it. The initial contract was around 1.8 and quickly escalated to 3.1ish to avoid losing their obtuse loudmouth to larger schools..I hope he stays at vandy, because beating Johnson didn't have the same satisfaction (he's a nice guy) that beating DeNardo and Franklin has..

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