clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

16 amazing things about the day Tennessee almost hired Greg Schiano, but didn’t, after incredible backlash

There’s a lot to digest here.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, people took to the internet, the streets of Knoxville, and the phone lines to prevent Tennessee from making Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano its next football coach.

Word came out in the early afternoon that the Vols were closing in on Schiano, and the sudden backlash was massive, even by college football standards. Players, politicians, and fans all raged against Schiano’s hiring.

Many of them cited an allegation that former Penn State assistant Schiano had been aware of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky. Other arguments by Vols fans included Schiano’s failed Bucs tenure, his one-game-above-.500 record as Rutgers’ 11-year head coach, the fact that his best year in the Big East was more than a decade ago, reports about many of his NFL players and even Peyton Manning hating him, his defense giving up 55 points to Iowa this season, and his perceived similarity to recently fired coach Butch Jones.

By nighttime, it was clear that Tennessee wouldn’t follow through with the hire. UT athletic director John Currie looked out of touch, careless, and incompetent.

That was an unusual day. Here were a few things about it that stand out.

1. It worked.

Tennessee fans, boosters, politicians, and alumni refused to accept the hire, and they found a way to take charge of the program.

2. Tennessee’s first-year AD, whose job is to hire coaches, might have gotten himself sidelined from hiring a coach.

3. There was in-person protesting.

One leader of the picketing in Knoxville said, “We’re reclaiming our program tonight.” That person was right.

4. Lane Kiffin, who once literally abandoned the Vols in the middle of the night, suddenly seems like a great idea.

5. One prominent Vol announced he’d choose a new college.

6. All of these local politicians spoke up.

7. This politician is the pro wrestler Kane.

This guy:


8. A local coffee shop joined in.

9. This is what was written on The Rock, a Tennessee icon.

The basis for this allegation was a reference to an alleged secondhand discussion. Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel, who’s covered the case, explains the origin:

From the deposition [of former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary]:

Q: “Did [former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley] tell you that he had had information concerning Gerald Sandusky and children?”

A: “He said he knew of some things. … He said another assistant coach had come to him in the early ’90s about a very similar situation to mine, and he said that he had — someone had come to him as far back as early as the ’80s about seeing Jerry Sandusky doing something with a boy.”

Q: “Did he identify who the other coaches were that had given him this information?”

A: “The one in the early ’90s, yes.”

Q: “And who was that?”

A: “Greg Schiano …”

Q: “And did he give you any details about what Coach Schiano had reported to him?”

A: “No, only that he had — I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning, but that Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower. And that’s it. That’s all he ever told me.”

Bradley and Schiano denied it when it came out.

10. This fake Twitter account seemed believable for a second, because this is the kind of staggering incompetence Tennessee could pull off.

Again, that’s not real.

11. A fake Facebook account pretending to belong to the White House press secretary weighed in and got widely cited in sports media.

Also, the fake page has since been deleted or something. It’ had been posting daily for months with tens of thousands of followers. A Tennessee coaching search is what got it removed from public.

At least, I think it’s fake, but in this particular moment in both the United States and the Tennessee football program, I can’t say with certainty. The thing about the Vols is that I don’t think anyone has a firm grasp on where fantasy ends and reality begins.

12. Tennessee got itself blasted for trying to hire a former Buccaneers head coach.

This after a search that had included the following Jon Gruden-related things:

13. Tennessee might owe Schiano money.

This tweet is almost certainly not correct ...

... but SI’s Michael McCann argues Schiano could have a chance to successfully sue Tennessee.

The two sides reportedly signed a “memorandum of understanding” or MOU. As explained below, an MOU for a college coach is a formal record of the understanding between the coach and the school as to the key terms and conditions under which the university would employ the coach. Could Schiano sue the university for breach of contract, fraud or other claims? If all of the necessary parties signed an MOU, the answer would be yes.

14. Currie seemingly thought a hire of Schiano to replace Jones would go over fine.

His statement the next morning:

As we began our search for our next head football coach earlier this month, I promised that I would pour all my energy and effort into this process.

I have followed Coach Schiano’s accomplishments throughout his career and have been fortunate to get to know him and his family over the last several years. As reported by the media, he was a leading candidate for our position. Among the most respected professional and college football coaches, he is widely regarded as an outstanding leader who develops tough, competitive teams and cares deeply about his student-athletes.

We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions. He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures.

Coach Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990-1995. Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh. Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. I know that Coach Schiano will continue to have great success in his coaching career and wish him and his family well.

I am grateful for your patience as our search for the next leader for the Tennessee football program continues, and I look forward to making that introduction soon.

15. Now the Vols still have to hire a coach.

Some actual good ideas are here.

16. And while this was all happening, SEC East rival Florida was hiring a great head coach who happened to be the one Currie actually wanted.

Other than that, Tennessee had a smooth and positive day.