Vols need big name for next football hire

Patrick MacCoon
Posted 11/13/17

This past Saturday’s embarrassing 50-17 loss to Missouri was nothing short of another low point for the Tennessee program that once appeared headed in the right direction under Butch …

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Vols need big name for next football hire


This past Saturday’s embarrassing 50-17 loss to Missouri was nothing short of another low point for the Tennessee program that once appeared headed in the right direction under Butch Jones.

While the run Joshua Dobbs and other standouts such as the now NFL Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara and the relentless Derek Barnett helped give a hungry fan base a taste of being back among the college elite, the program has since been flipped upside down.

A regression was expected, but to go from winning three straight bowl games to looking from the outside-in, then to most likely not even getting to play an extra game, is wild.

Since joining the SEC in 1933, Tennessee has won less than six games just 18 times, and has earned a bowl game in 41 of the last 52 years.

If Missouri can run up and down the field like it's nothing, LSU's Derek Guice is about to have a field day in Neyland this weekend.

To end the season it won’t matter what happens between the SEC’s bottom dwellers, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, who are both 0-6 in conference play.

If not for somewhat of a miracle against Georgia Tech, the Vols would be 3-7. 

Brick-by-brick the master plan has fallen apart for a staff that has a losing streak against every team in the conference.

Heck, Tennessee very likely could finish 4-8 for the first time in program history.

The door has been closed on Jones, who was canned Sunday morning. Not to mention, there will most likely be an entirely new staff on the sidelines next year, after the type of season that might even have Robert Neyland spinning in his grave.

The years post Phillip Fulmer have been filled with more heartaches than joyful tears, which were last shed in the miracle "between the hedges" in Athens, Ga., last season. 

Now, the ultra-proud program MUST hit a home run hire.

With recruits jumping ship, which they were doing even when Jones was the coach, a big splash hire must bring new life to the fan base and intrigue top prep players around the country.

While many shrug off the mention of the name, "GRUMOR" season has been in full swing, and will only grow larger.

The football guru himself, Jon Gruden, even makes the simple statements sound intriguing, almost as if he puts you in a trance.

That being said, if Gruden were to accept the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee, I would be in complete shock along with pure ecstasy.

First of all it would cost close to $10 million per year to hire the former college assistant and NFL head coach, who currently makes $6.5 million a year working as the lead commentator for ESPN’s "Monday Night Football" broadcast.

While there are plenty of doubters who throw off every mention of his name when it pertains to Gruden coming back to coach at his alma mater, the odds are better than the three previous times the "Big Orange" checked in on his interest in coaching.

Gruden was a graduate assistant under former coach Johnny Majors from 1986-87 and his wife, Cindy, was a UT cheerleader, while his son currently attends UT.

Another interesting note to stir the pot is the situation his current employer is in.

It has been demonstrated over the past year that ESPN is struggling and losing money, therefore, while Gruden is a special talent and one of their top talents, his job is not entirely safe.

 He is the highest-paid on-air employee for a Walt Disney company that has gone through the ringer and has had to make significant cutbacks of late.

In October 2015, the company laid off roughly 300 employees and this past April cut some 100 journalists and on-air personalities. 

This past Thursday, Sports Illustrated magazine reported that more than 100 staffers will be laid off again sometime after the holidays, which will include workers from all sides of TV production.

While ESPN may never try to pull the plug on Gruden, as they may just have to offer less money in years to come, there is no telling what could happen at this point.

Gruden in recent interviews has appeared more interested than ever before as he said, “you never know” to whether he might decide to take a coaching job and that he is "keeping his options open" if something comes along.

Well, something sure has come along.

The interest is real this time around for the X's and O's expert, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2002-03 season.

After going through Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and Jones, Vol fans and boosters have made it apparent they are ready to see a big splash hire and a coach that could put fear into opponents' eyes.

Gruden is the man I believe could make Nick Saban worry at night with what he may have up his sleeve. 

Just think about the staff he could compile and the quarterbacks he could interest in playing for the Vols. 

While Peyton Manning has not expressed interest in coaching since his retirement, Gruden is one of the few coaches who could sway his interest.

A fantasy staff and recruiting classes could be built if the 54-year-old fiery personality accepts the offer.

Even with the lack of college experience, there is no denying the potential power Gruden could bring to the program.

Las Vegas has tabbed Gruden  as the odds-on favorite to become Tennessee's next head coach.

This is a very important time for AD John Currie to bring the right coach in, and bring life back to a fan base that has been lost.

If not Gruden, why not go out and take a risk on guys who have actually led teams to the pinnacle game in college football, such as Les Miles or Chip Kelly? 

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen is also an impressive candidate, and his squad nearly took down the Crimson Tide on Saturday.

However, many seem to think the future on Rocky Top looks best with a former Vol leading the way.

While people have been called crazy for thinking Gruden would even consider coaching in college, it certainly appears the superstar football personality could very well be the lead favorite.

So sit back, buckle your seat belts and enjoy the ride, which is another coaching search Tennessee fans are all too familiar with.


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