After week of quiet, UT coaching search should start to rev up soon

Hart tabs December as 'critical month'

Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart looks on as the Volunteers play the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart looks on as the Volunteers play the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

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When Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart announced the firing of Derek Dooley on Nov. 18, he offered two tips for fans eager to follow the Vols' search for a new football coach: There's no need to panic and don't believe everything you hear.

"People need to take a deep breath," he said.

The same message could probably apply today, as Hart's search begins to rev up in earnest. The regular season ended for most college teams on Saturday. The rest will finish up by this weekend. That means coaches are free to interview and athletic directors are free to contact them.

The field of potential suitors — UT, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky in the SEC alone — seems to dwarf the number of high-profile candidates, which has increased the anxiety of fans.

But if the general timeline Hart laid out last week still stands, the search hasn't even entered its decisive month.

"December is the critical month," he said.

The annual National Football Foundation awards ceremony and Hall of Fame induction on Dec. 4 is a de-facto convention of college coaches and administrators.

Hart and several UT representatives are expected to be at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York for the induction of former UT coach Phillip Fulmer. From there, they can schedule interviews with candidates without having to worry about clandestine plane trips being tracked on message boards.

Although ESPN Monday Night Football commentator Jon Gruden remains a fan favorite, nothing in the last week has offered any suggestion that his hiring is imminent — or even anything more than the longest of long shots.

Gruden, who has weathered the coaching-search "silly season" almost annually since joining ESPN, hasn't made any comments that would dampen speculation about coming to UT. But most believe he is focused on a return to the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rather than taking a job in the unfamiliar college game.

Gruden is one of ESPN's biggest stars, and the network would prefer that he stick around. Gruden's agent, Bob LaMonte, has not returned calls left by the News Sentinel.

Other coaches on any school's "dream list" would include Oklahoma's Bob Stoops or Florida State's Jimbo Fisher.

Rumors about Stoops and Tennessee reached Norman, Okla., where Stoops is an incredible 148-36 in 14 seasons and makes $4.5 million annually plus incentives.

"Me? Really?," he said according to NewsOK.com. "I like my job. No. I love my job. I'll try to keep it another year."

Fisher, who is 29-10 in three seasons at FSU, was even more adamant.

"I won't even discuss other job opportunities with my agent," he said according to quotes posted on FSU's official Twitter feed. "I am focused on these players and this team. We are happy here."

Are any of these big names even on Hart's radar or is he setting his sights on more realistic candidates? It's hard to say. Hart's search has been largely solitary and free of leaks. He offered a broad overview of the search to key UT supporters last week but few specifics. As for average fans, he doesn't object to the avalanche of interest in the search.

"People should have an opinion," he said. "I know I have a job to do. I have a level of expertise and level of information that no one else has."

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

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Comments » 66

wmainhotrods writes:

First!

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

Why would Stoops be in Stillwater? OU is located in Norman, Oklahoma.

rockypop writes:

"I know I have a job to do. I have a level of expertise and level of information that no one else has."

Sounds like he's The Decider. Let's hope he does a better job than the last Decider.

GreerVol22 writes:

As Goober once said, "wanna' here my Cary Grant?"

...Gruden, Gruden, Gruden

6972 writes:

"Search should rev up soon"....uh, why didn't it start after the Ms St game. Some fans thought it should have started last year after that debacle in....well you know which state.

mdvol writes:

Not sure if this article has been posted. Not only did Dooley have a terrible record, the high school coaches were clearly not impressed either....

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

shorttail writes:

i hope TN.is not considering charlie strong for the coaching job

movol77 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

As Goober once said, "wanna' here my Cary Grant?"

...Gruden, Gruden, Gruden

;-)

Rumblefish writes:

AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Like the coaching search didn't start after the Kentucky game last year.

Seriously....who does the AD and the Press think they are fooling with the whole "coaching search begins today"--(following the vandy game 2012) and the "coaching search revs up"--(today) stories?????

Face it, this search has been in progress since last year. Everybody knows it.

movol77 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

As Goober once said, "wanna' here my Cary Grant?"

...Gruden, Gruden, Gruden

In fact, I think I'll go watch that episode right now. Maybe by the time it's over Hart will be about ready to make his announcement. :-)

laraccoon writes:

in response to mdvol:

Not sure if this article has been posted. Not only did Dooley have a terrible record, the high school coaches were clearly not impressed either....

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

yea , we should keep a bunch of these assistant coaches on staff .

lomas98 writes:

Hart saying he has expertise and information nobody else has, is not true if you listen to most on the message boards. It seems everybody in Knoxville knows who the coach is going to be according to their sources. Funny thing is everybody has different answer. If it wouldn't hurt recruiting I wish hart could string this thing out until February. The stories would get even more comical,

vol98champ writes:

I wouldn't want to be in Hart's shoes, but if I was I would know that I had to hit a home run. I'll get a lot of negative vibes with this post, but to me it is a no brainer----Bobby Petrino. Yes, I am desperate.

alavol writes:

in response to vol98champ:

I wouldn't want to be in Hart's shoes, but if I was I would know that I had to hit a home run. I'll get a lot of negative vibes with this post, but to me it is a no brainer----Bobby Petrino. Yes, I am desperate.

i have been preaching Bobby Petrino since Dooley got fired. unfortunately, I think Auburn will make the offer long before Hart does his individual evaluation. Jacobs is using three alumnae about his search. Hart is going it alone. He sounds like Karzak the omniscient! This fire should have been made after last year's Kentucky game!

voloffaith writes:

in response to wmainhotrods:

First!

GRADE...........Eddie Haskell was FIRST to tell Mrs. Cleaver that she had a lovely house coat too........

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

The Vols have about as much chance of getting Gruden as Kentucky does of getting a basketball player to stay 4 years, and that's no yoke !!!

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to wmainhotrods:

First!

yes, you are an immature idiot!

Its_Goooood writes:

in response to alavol:

i have been preaching Bobby Petrino since Dooley got fired. unfortunately, I think Auburn will make the offer long before Hart does his individual evaluation. Jacobs is using three alumnae about his search. Hart is going it alone. He sounds like Karzak the omniscient! This fire should have been made after last year's Kentucky game!

According to Chris Lowe , Slive, SEC Presidents and Chancellors are going to block Petrino from SEC. Petrino is done in SEC

Prostar writes:

in response to vol98champ:

I wouldn't want to be in Hart's shoes, but if I was I would know that I had to hit a home run. I'll get a lot of negative vibes with this post, but to me it is a no brainer----Bobby Petrino. Yes, I am desperate.

Petrino will win for somebody. Put a morals clause in the contract and enough incentives and he will stick around and we will once again be relevant. Remember the smack-down Arky put on us last year? Well, they were poised to make another run at the west division championship this year. And about these contracts, Dooley must have written his own and presented it to Mikey. Tom O'Brien at NCST only has a $1.2 mil buyout, that's $300,000 per yr. for 4 years and we pay millions just to our HC.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Like the coaching search didn't start after the Kentucky game last year.

Seriously....who does the AD and the Press think they are fooling with the whole "coaching search begins today"--(following the vandy game 2012) and the "coaching search revs up"--(today) stories?????

Face it, this search has been in progress since last year. Everybody knows it.

You betcha! As soon as the Kentucky streak ended, Hart dusted off his list and put DD on the hot seat. I think the decision was more or less made after the South Carolina loss but Dooley might have been able to save his job by winning out plus a bowl game. Missouri was the last straw and he was a dead man walking from then on - and knew it, you could see it in his demeanor. No way Hart doesn't have a list of 6-10 guys, in order, that he plans to interview if they're interested. Hopefully he won't have to go lower than that. Go Vols!!!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

By doing it this way he is putting himself on a hot seat. I guess when you're 60 years old you don't care what most other people think any more. I hope he's got better judgment than his predecessor. Go Vols!!!

eduardo writes:

GRUDEN.

cloudodust writes:

The search for the next Tennessee should be kept in house. This isn't a proxy vote amongst us fans or even the bottom-feeding sportswriters that assume the position of sporting expertise. Dang it, sportswriters in Knoxville are responsible for turning recuits out of here moreso than helping bring them in. I know the truth is plain to see regarding the current status of football Atop Rocky but get off your flipping high horses and let the precieved experts do their jobs. Ya'll stick to glorifying the obit section, OK...?

vol68 writes:

"The annual National Football Foundation awards ceremony and Hall of Fame induction on Dec. 4 is a de-facto convention of college coaches and administrators.

Hart and several UT representatives are expected to be at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York for the induction of former UT coach Phillip Fulmer. From there, they can schedule interviews with candidates without having to worry about clandestine plane trips being tracked on message boards."

Wow, going to look for a coach at the Hall of Fame induction of an orange-blooded UT coach that could still coach this team.

therightstuff writes:

#1a--Jon Gruden
#1b--Jim Mora Jr.
#2 --Bob Stoops
Why not swing for the fences?
Please no: Charlie Strong (Big Least)
Butch Jones (Big Least) and B Kellys
players
In the wings: Bobby Petrino
Butch Davis
Romeo Crennel (seriously)
Last call: Kirby Smart

Should have hammy gone with Kippy Brown? Looks that way.
Should Dooley gone with Lance Thompson? Looks that way.
Gonna be interesting the next week or so for sure. Haha....heard on sports talk...of course a caller and an inside source....Gruden to be announced 30th. Yep, and Mayan's predicted the poles to reverse Dec 21st.
Let's just hope the swinging for the fences doesn't come up with foul balls.......
Go Vols VFL

Rumblefish writes:

in response to therightstuff:

#1a--Jon Gruden
#1b--Jim Mora Jr.
#2 --Bob Stoops
Why not swing for the fences?
Please no: Charlie Strong (Big Least)
Butch Jones (Big Least) and B Kellys
players
In the wings: Bobby Petrino
Butch Davis
Romeo Crennel (seriously)
Last call: Kirby Smart

Should have hammy gone with Kippy Brown? Looks that way.
Should Dooley gone with Lance Thompson? Looks that way.
Gonna be interesting the next week or so for sure. Haha....heard on sports talk...of course a caller and an inside source....Gruden to be announced 30th. Yep, and Mayan's predicted the poles to reverse Dec 21st.
Let's just hope the swinging for the fences doesn't come up with foul balls.......
Go Vols VFL

Gruden...not going to happen. TN doesn't need him anyway.
Mora Jr.....what exactly is a weak/average pac 12 coach going to do in the SEC?
Stoops?...yeah right. You really think he is going to leave the Oklahoma program he has built for Tennessee's struggling program???

Lay off the sauce man.

Chip Kelly....challenge him to come and win in the SEC

Mike Gundy....fireball who has the best chance of keeping Bray, Hunter, and CP with his offense next year, which gives him time to recruit the players he needs.

hueypilot writes:

in response to mdvol:

Not sure if this article has been posted. Not only did Dooley have a terrible record, the high school coaches were clearly not impressed either....

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

This absolutely fries my asphalt. I walked up to Dooley at a Big Orange Caravan in Jacksonville. Nobody but him and me. Introduced myself and at that point he didn't know if I was a big donor, no donor, medium donor, just wished him good luck on the season that I was a supporter, fan, alumnus and season ticket holder. He gave me a limp handshake, didn't look me in the eye, and as much as said "whatever" altho that wasn't his exact words, it might as well have been. Every college or pro coach I've ever met that thought you were a fan or supporter was engaging and friendly. Not this guy. I told my wife, I hope he doesn't treat hs coaches and recruits like he did me. Apparently he did. I read elsewhere that he was such a great interview. What an absolute phony piece of Georgia trash.

SouthTexasVol writes:

Bobby Petrino is the answer to our football troubles. Hire him tonight Mr. Hart. You people forgave slick willie why not Coach Bobby Petrino.

DavidB writes:

I will be happy when we get a story of who UT actually hired instead of all the possibilities. Many names on the lists look good. I would hope whoever we hire has at least recruited in the SEC before. I also hope that either the new head coach has a good defensive mind or plans on hiring someone that does.

I know many dont want Petrino due to his past but the more I think about the more I accept the fact that the man can coach. Like many have said put an ethics clause in his contract.

Whoever we get I hope we are smart with the contracts.

Bonus for SEC Championship. Bonus for 10 win season. Bonus for BCS bowl games.

No big buy out. Contract should be for 4 years. If they win 10 games then contact gets extended. Should be if fail to win x amount of sec schedule contract buyout gos way down.

DavidB writes:

in response to mdvol:

Not sure if this article has been posted. Not only did Dooley have a terrible record, the high school coaches were clearly not impressed either....

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

I read that article the other day. I was shocked when I read it. Even if a highschool in Tennessee has never produced a recruit the coaching staff at UT should be their best friends. Eventually that school will have a stud come through. I hate seeing kids from our area go to other schools and turn out great. The QB from wisconsin came from East Tennessee. He has had some knee problems but watching him play is a blast.

VOLKING writes:

Anybody wanna guess the actual announcement date of the new coach and who you think it will be? I say Dec. 7 and Bob Stoops. I say this because my in-laws are OU fans and it would make my holiday season to listen to them whine.

SouthTexasVol writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. Now to hire Jim Mora jr or Bobby Petrino that would make my day.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to hueypilot:

This absolutely fries my asphalt. I walked up to Dooley at a Big Orange Caravan in Jacksonville. Nobody but him and me. Introduced myself and at that point he didn't know if I was a big donor, no donor, medium donor, just wished him good luck on the season that I was a supporter, fan, alumnus and season ticket holder. He gave me a limp handshake, didn't look me in the eye, and as much as said "whatever" altho that wasn't his exact words, it might as well have been. Every college or pro coach I've ever met that thought you were a fan or supporter was engaging and friendly. Not this guy. I told my wife, I hope he doesn't treat hs coaches and recruits like he did me. Apparently he did. I read elsewhere that he was such a great interview. What an absolute phony piece of Georgia trash.

My question is, if the poll they reference was done early in the season, why did they wait until now to publish the results? If Dooley hadn't been fired, would they have published it at all. What agenda does the media have?

volcop writes:

therightstuff:"Should have hammy gone with Kippy Brown? Looks that way.
Should Dooley gone with Lance Thompson? Looks that way.

I agree

volcop writes:

in response to vol68:

"The annual National Football Foundation awards ceremony and Hall of Fame induction on Dec. 4 is a de-facto convention of college coaches and administrators.

Hart and several UT representatives are expected to be at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York for the induction of former UT coach Phillip Fulmer. From there, they can schedule interviews with candidates without having to worry about clandestine plane trips being tracked on message boards."

Wow, going to look for a coach at the Hall of Fame induction of an orange-blooded UT coach that could still coach this team.

All of these lamebrains wanted change; well they got it; hope they're all happy. UT could do a lot worse than hiring Fulmer back. I know it isn't going to happen but....
Then if not Jon Gruden, another John, last name Chavis , his blood runneth ORANGE

TheCopper writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey stupid(a.k.a. Jeff Flowers). Dooley is gone so you can stop with all your little 2nd grade "Doolaid and Doolittle" comments. Seriously, your obsession with Dooley is sickening. I guess living in Richmond's shadow your whole life made you a very bitter person. Don't bother responding because I know you are too big of a coward to do so. Do us all a favor and take yourself out of the gene pool.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Hart sure has a big ego for someone who hasn't accomplished anything."

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

cra writes:

Dave Hart has been AD at East Carolina and Florida State. I do not believe he would consider Logan or Holtz. Fisher is staying at FSU and Richt would likely stay at Georgia.Bobby Bowden is out of it now but one of his sons is still coaching...gave Tennessee fits this year....and had an undefeated season at Auburn as well as having them nationally ranked in the top ten most of the four or five years he helmed the Tigers. Terry Bowden might be a possibility for UT.

traderjoe writes:

What concerns me is that Hart seems to be doing this search on his own. If he is responsible for the hiring of Sunseri, then we are in trouble.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

I posted this comment on another story written about this merry go around so it seems appropriate to post it here as well. Its nice to see all the choses we have, but the one and only question is who will it be? We as fans have our personal favorites, and that means no matter who we get someone is not going to be happy and we'll all be on here saying the same thing, "Are you kidding me with this hire". Point is who ever it is we truly need to sit back for a bit and let it work itself out. Bumps are going to come for sure. We need to see the results of the recruiting and then see them play. Petrino, Patterson, Gruden, Strong, Jones, Stoops, it doesn't matter who it is, they have to put in a system that these guys can produce out of. Spread, Pro, wish bone, 3-4-4, 4-3-4, 3-3-5, it doesn't matter unless we can get the players to understand it and we as fans give it a chance to work. I'm just ready to see who it is and we get down to business so we can shut the naysayers the hell up. GBO VFL!!!

Volunatic writes:

in response to laraccoon:

yea , we should keep a bunch of these assistant coaches on staff .

I think Jay Graham and Sam Pittman would both be excellent choices for keeping, and I wouldn't be upset at all if Chaney was retained as well.
I put the blame for the Chattanooga area recruiting blunders on the HC and the recruiting coordinator (Darin Hinshaw).
I would be very surprised if Hinshaw was retained by the next HC.

BigOrangeSports writes:

in response to traderjoe:

What concerns me is that Hart seems to be doing this search on his own. If he is responsible for the hiring of Sunseri, then we are in trouble.

During Hart's announcement of Dooley's release, DH said he has nothing to do with any hiring except the HC. So Sunseri was all Dooley. I am glad he is not using a search group. The search group is what brought Dooley to us. It has already been announced that Kentucky has been turned down by 3 coaches, who IS using a search group. If you recall, there were a lot of leaks during our last coaching search. I prefer the way this search is going.
GBO

gatorhator4eva writes:

The haslams are the ones that call the shots. If hart was going to sabotage the program he will be out quick along with rosey cheeks. I doubt its harts decision, he is just the pawn. The people with the money run the show.

SummittsCourt writes:

There's going to be a lot of disappointed fair weather fans crying in their beers for the next year when Dave Hart holds a press conference to announce the new Head Coach and it isn't Jon Gruden.

Please people - take a big bite out of the reality apple and move on. Gruden is not going to be the next head coach.

creekroad writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

By doing it this way he is putting himself on a hot seat. I guess when you're 60 years old you don't care what most other people think any more. I hope he's got better judgment than his predecessor. Go Vols!!!

He is on the hot seat no matter how he goes about it....might as well do it yourself if your going to have to take all the blame when things go south

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to volcop:

All of these lamebrains wanted change; well they got it; hope they're all happy. UT could do a lot worse than hiring Fulmer back. I know it isn't going to happen but....
Then if not Jon Gruden, another John, last name Chavis , his blood runneth ORANGE

I believe Hart said he wanted someone with head coaching experience.

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When will YOU stop being a horses arse?

vol98champ writes:

in response to Its_Goooood:

According to Chris Lowe , Slive, SEC Presidents and Chancellors are going to block Petrino from SEC. Petrino is done in SEC

If Lowe is accurate, these power brokers are dumb as concrete. Bet most of them would vote for Clinton for president. Clinton got away scott free for basically the same thing except his was with an intern. Petrino has paid in full in my opinion.

tcg#1384489 writes:

Wait until after all the other teams have filled their needs with the good coaches available and then Hart will take the leftovers. By then it will be deep in the recruiting season and we will get the spoils there too.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know Groundhog Day is when Toddy pulls his head briefly out of his arse, but I can't remember what it actually means if he sees his shadow.

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