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Tennessee won’t hire Greg Schiano after massive fan backlash and protests

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Former players, elected officials, and fans were furious at the idea of Schiano leading the Vols.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers v Iowa State Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

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:

State and local politicians:

A sample of fans offering feedback to Currie:

This protest in Knoxville:

“We’re reclaiming our program tonight,” one protest leader said.

This is a Knoxville coffee shop:

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?

And:

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.

And:

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.