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Tennessee's coaching search might’ve already cost more than $13 million, plus a potential Greg Schiano lawsuit, and the Vols don't even have a head coach yet

The Vols’ coaching search is a mess of astonishing proportions.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Press Conference Wade Payne-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee athletic director John Currie is out of his job, replaced by former head coach Phillip Fulmer. The news comes in the middle of a horrible mess of a coaching search, which still isn’t finished.

This whole ordeal is costing Tennessee tons of cash.

Currie’s buyout, assuming he’s fired without cause, works out to $5.5 million. That’s $100,000 times the 55 months remaining on his deal, which runs through June 2022. It’ll go down if Currie gets another “comparable job,” which he has to try to do.

Tennessee is currently looking into whether it can fire Currie “with cause,” as in, for doing something wrong beyond things involving his job duties. If it can prove he engaged in misconduct, that could void his buyout. We’ll see about that.

Let’s add that $5.5 million to the nearly $8.3 million Tennessee has to pay former coach Butch Jones in buyout money, from when Currie fired him in November.

That’s $13.8 million in money UT will owe Jones and Currie to not work for the school anymore. But we’re not even close to done.

  • Currie reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, when Currie was trying to hire him as head coach. That deal went up in smoke when fans, former players, and local politicians responded furiously. Tennessee’s chancellor reportedly didn’t sign that document, and there’s some legal question over whether UT’s going to owe Schiano millions of dollars for backing out of a signed agreement. The school might wind up settling and paying Schiano.
  • I haven’t even mentioned all of Jones’ assistant coaches. Any of them who had contracts running beyond this season will need to have their contracts paid out to them, perhaps pending offsets if they get jobs elsewhere. That’ll likely be a few million dollars more coming out of Tennessee’s wallet.
  • And coaching searches are expensive. Currie was reportedly in Los Angeles on Thursday trying to hire Washington State coach Mike Leach. The school was said to have had a plane waiting for Schiano in Columbus last weekend, before he didn’t come to Knoxville for a press conference. Tennessee has spent untold money on the logistics of trying to make this hire, and all of it has so far been for naught.

So we’re definitely heading somewhere well north of $14 million on this coaching search — and that’s before UT actually hires a coach.