Back in the days when big time college football was more about W’s and L’s and there was even the slightest semblance of order during the craziest of situations, there was a situation comedy on television about a stumbling, bungling bunch of soldiers and Indians called F Troop
In watching what has unfolded at the University of Tennessee the past several days UT-Troop seems like a good fit in Knoxville.
How else to explain an assortment of events that has resulted in the Volunteers interviewing 6 different candidates as a replacement for Butch Jones as the football coach, a social media implosion dictated by both boosters and buffoons, which hit another new low on Friday when the man given the responsibility for finding the new Volunteer coach, athletic director John Currie, was fired?
Were this mere entertainment it would be bad enough, but all of these mistakes and decisions could likely cost UT more than $19 million dollars in buying out contracts and perhaps settling potential law suits.
This circus started on Sunday when Currie, who had an excellent reputation as an athletic director at Kansas State, settled on Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as his choice.
Schiano’s credentials –11 seasons in which he turned Rutgers into a respectable football program, a brief (unsuccessful) stop as the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs and the last few years reviving his career working for Urban Meyer at Ohio State–looked solid.
It also included a stint as a young assistant coach at Penn State for Joe Paterno, during the period when (Penn State assistant coach) Jerrry Sandusky was involved in a series of sexual assaults on young boys. When the case exploded a few years ago, Schiano’s name surfaced, but quickly disappeared after several investigations revealed ABSOLUTELY no evidence or involvement or knowledge by Schiano.
Currie, like Urban Meyer and like the Tamp Bay Bucs, vetted the matter and was satisfied that everything was all right and was ready to make an announcement that Schiano would be the new Tennessee coach.
But that was before a bunch of knuckleheads and politicians looking for sound bites, decided that Penn State WAS the big issue, which created a backlash that went viral on the social media.
The Tennessee administration, displaying the backbone of a jelly fish, withdrew its offer.
What has followed has been a tsunami of embarrassing moments as Currie contacted Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, Duke coach David Cutcliffe, North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, Purdue coach Jeff Brohm and Washington State coach Mike Leach, without sealing the deal.
On Friday, Currie’s name was added to the casualty list. That move will probably cost UT another $5.5 million.
So how does UT come out of this with any sense of dignity?
There might be one solution brewing
Former football coach Phillip Fulmer, who is now an advisor to UT President Joe DiPedro, got the job he wanted 8 months ago before UT hired Currie. He moved in for at least the next two years as the athletic director.
Fulmer could keep it all in the family by hiring Tee Martin–who was the quarterback for Fulmer when Tennessee won the 1998 national championship-and is currently the offensive coordinator at USC.
Will this work?
With UT people filling the roles of Captain Wilton Parmenter, Sgt. Morgan O’Rourke, Corporal Randolph Agarn and Chief Wild Eagle, it seems doubtful. but it is the Volunteers only real chance to fix things any time soon.