Tennessee was about to hire Greg Schiano as its new head football coach on Sunday. After fans protested loudly, the deal appears to be off.
The former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach has spent the last two seasons as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. Several reports indicated the Vols were close to hiring him Sunday, then reported the deal was off. Monday, AD John Currie announced it was over.
The backlash to Schiano’s reported hiring was fierce and immediate.
Maybe this could’ve worked on the field. Schiano did once make Rutgers a top-10 team. But what’s certain now is that Tennessee fans were livid at the idea right away, and they spent the hours after the news broke in a full-blown fury.
Tennessee fans have for years wanted Jon Gruden, another former Tampa Bay coach. The fervor surrounding Gruden reached a fever pitch this month when thousands of fans watched a live stream of an airport parking lot, hoping he’d show up, and a Knoxville restaurant apologized after spreading false reports that Gruden was eating there.
And then Tennessee appeared to settle on Schiano, a retread coach who’s also been named in documents as allegedly having known about Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse while both were Penn State assistants. When news broke in 2016, Schiano denied having any knowledge of abuse while a coach at Penn State.
The extraordinary anger about Schiano is likely a mixture of concerns about his coaching and his past at Penn State.
A general summation:
Former Tennessee players:
I’m just going to say this if we hire Greg Schiano as our next head coach my options will be open to which college program I will Be donating my TIME and MONEY to. (No disrespect to GS) but if UT leaders don’t take football serious then I will find the program that will!!!— Albert Haynesworth (@haynesworthiii) November 26, 2017
I promise this next hire is Make or Break for a lot of Vol Fans.— Curt Maggitt (@CurtMaggitt) November 26, 2017
Sucks to see the best fan base in the country have to go through this over several years.
Its weird how aggressive some media folks are pushing Schiano like they have memory-holed his time here in Tampa and the Penn St stuff. Very very weird...— Stephen White (@sgw94) November 26, 2017
All of my twitter right now is saying no to this Schiano hiring lol. All of it. Even other teams and conferences are even saying no. Lol. @John_Currie lemme know if u need more info.— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) November 26, 2017
When you think of the hire, you think of this. I’m no different. I think about it too. Terrible!! https://t.co/kJzJB5SWCa— Jayson Swain (@SwainEvent) November 26, 2017
Just got off phone with someone in the know about Schiano. Compared him to Butch Jones.— Jayson Swain (@SwainEvent) November 26, 2017
State and local politicians:
@UTKnoxville if you hire him, the backlash will be insurmountable and devastating to the University and the state.— Jeremy Faison (@JeremyFaison4TN) November 26, 2017
Our Tennessee standards mean something, and a Greg Schiano hire would be anathema to all that our University and our community stand for. I sincerely hope that these rumors are not true, because even serious consideration would be unacceptable.— Eddie Smith (@RepEddieSmith) November 26, 2017
Too many well-founded concerns about Schiano from our community. Hiring would be very unpopular and hurt UT.... https://t.co/MryvM8Qrfc— Glenn Jacobs (@GlennJacobsTN) November 26, 2017
@John_Currie YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! So you plan to hire you're close friend... someone who knew about the Penn State abuse? This says volumes about your judgement & lack of respect for Tennessee.— Dan (@DanHowell10) November 26, 2017
St. Rep Dan Howell pic.twitter.com/69TOlTTYQa
We expect the highest standards for our public institutions. The special few chosen to lead within those institutions should have a demonstrated history of integrity and character. I hope today’s rumors are not true, because protecting children is more important than anything.— Bill Lee (@BillLeeTN) November 26, 2017
A sample of fans offering feedback to Currie:
This protest in Knoxville:
“We’re reclaiming our program tonight,” one protest leader said.
Basilio caller says, “If Currie is on a plane with Schiano I hope it crashes.”— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) November 26, 2017
Another caller, “Currie needs to go work for Al Qaeda. He’s a suicide bomber.”
. @John_Currie Do not hire this monster. You’re throwing Tennessee’s morals and football program in the trash.— Carrie Hopper (@carriehops) November 26, 2017
@John_Currie I think you are a bad person and an even worse AD.— Ryan Price (@rprice6) November 26, 2017
A small group is starting to get together at Neyland Stadium to protest a potential hiring of Greg Schiano. More cars are pulling up as I tweet. pic.twitter.com/urTpCvmvll— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) November 26, 2017
This is a Knoxville coffee shop:
Greg Schiano is not allowed in our establishment.— Remedy Coffee (@remedy_coffee) November 26, 2017
At VolNation.com, a fan wrote the athletic director an open letter:
Dear Mr. Currie,
I have been a Tennessee fan my entire life. My father is an alum, my sister and I are both alumni, as a student I attended every football game from the student section even when we were the first class that had to pay for their football tickets. In your announcement on starting the search for a new hire you yourself said you wanted a man of "integrity". I had a lot of hope you would find someone who would set a good example for our program and our students.
And then I read you are hiring Greg Schiano.
I live in Pennsylvania and am well versed in the PEnn State Scandal involving Jerry Sandusky. I'm also aware of the [allegation] that Greg Schiano watched Sandusky rape a child with his own eyes and then did not report it. He was a part of that staff for years and still [allegedly] allowed Sandusky to continue his disgusting acts against innocent children.
I told my family that I would never support Tennessee if they supported something like that and with this hire this is precisely what you are doing.
So, I will not attend or watch a game, I will not buy anything Tennessee related, I will not wear orange or donate a single cent to this university as long as you and Greg Schiano are on our staff.
I do not know how you can sleep at night for hiring such a horrible person.
Good Day Sir,
XXXXXXX (class of 2012 and a former fan)
Other posts there:
Its Schiano! Get a rope.
ESPN reporting that Tennessee is finalizing a deal with Schiano. Do I need a permit to burn a mattress? If so whats the fee?
Just received a pic of our first mattress burning pic.twitter.com/kHmspMOkDb— Jon Reed (@Jon__Reed) November 26, 2017
The Jerry Sandusky trial is now part of UT history as well.
When you think UT can’t sink lower, “hold my beer” says Currie. Just wow.
Suddenly Kiffen doesn't look too bad.
I'd take him in a heartbeat over ****ano.
(That’s Schiano’s name being treated as a cuss word.)
A few posts are trying to get #SchiaNO to trend on Twitter, too. There’s also a thread whose title is AD Currie’s email address and phone number, imploring fans to call:
Please contact this moron immediately and tell him to cancel your TN fund donations and ticket orders effective immediately if he follows through
If this happens, John Currie is not only a failure as an athletic director, but even more than that he is a sorry excuse for a man...
A more football-centric complaint here:
Is the sad truth that
Tennessee is no longer a big program, if Shiano is hired? I believe last time coaches turned UT down and now, look at all the names out there... up n comers and big names... it appears again everyone has more interest in different schools and UT can't seem to pull any of them. Is this the way it is? UT settles because it's no longer attractive? People keep saying it is, but these coaches say otherwise...
Ultimately, the chorus of criticism became too much.