John Currie, you botched your first snap. It’s okay: it happens. Given your first chance to hire a head coach, you let feelings get in the way. After missing out on some of the more pie-in-the-sky candidates (Chip Kelly, Dan Mullen), you panicked and went with someone you know personally in Greg Schiano. This pre-existing personal relationship blinded you to the reasons your fanbase might oppose the hiring, both stated (questions about his associations with the Paterno-era Penn State program) and more-likely-actually-the-reason (he has an unspectacular college record, a terrible NFL record, and a lot of people hate him).
That’s why you’ve hired me, John, a professional search firm... searcher... guy.
What’s that? Oh, no, you definitely hired me. Look, your name’s forged right here on the check. Listen, are you really in a position to be arguing about who you’ve hired and haven’t hired? Maybe you should just look at the list I’ve compiled for you.
See, what I’ve done here is removed the emotional element. We’re going to examine these coaches’ resumes as blind items, so you don’t boof it again and hire a guy just because you had dinner with him once.
THE GUY WHO RAN A HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE AT A PLACE THAT’S HARD TO RECRUIT AT
Let’s face it, one of the difficulties in coaching the Vols is location. You’re in a division with schools from talent-rich hotbeds like Florida and Georgia, and East Tennessee just doesn’t have the recruiting base to match that. You need someone who’s succeeded somewhere remote. Well, this guy’s got just that! He had a winning record and qualified for multiple bowl games at one of the most remote locations in the Power 5, behind the strength of an Air Raid offense that maximized the potential of his lesser recruiting classes. His departure from the school was somewhat controversial.
THE AAC UP-AND-COMER
Maybe you’re not able to pull a coach away from another Power 5 school. The Schiano debacle might have scared coaches off from leaving stable situations. Well, maybe instead you look to the Group of Five - there’s lot of diamonds in the rough to be found there - and this coach took an AAC team to three straight bowl games, maximizing minimal resources in a state where the flagship university’s shadow looms large. Surely once he’s got the institutional support of a school like Tennessee, he can do even bigger and better things!
THE OLD-HAND SEC STALWART
But hey, this is the SEC. If anything, Butch Jones proved that success in the American Conference may not translate to the big time. Now’s not the time for experimenting with unproven coaches. You want someone who’s coached in the SEC, and won. Well, would you believe it if I said that guy’s available? This candidate led his SEC program to eight straight winning seasons - including an undefeated campaign! If anyone can bring you back to consistent success, it’s this proven winner.
THE GUY WHO WON AT OLE MISS AND LEFT UNDER CONTROVERSIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why take a risk, when his tenure ended abruptly, leaving the program unexpectedly in the lurch? Well, everyone deserves second chances, that’s what we say. He had a winning record at Ole Miss, and that’s not an easy place to win. Let’s overlook how he left and focus on what he was able to achieve there.
Okay, fine, the elephant in the room. The fanbase is clamoring for someone who’s currently working in the broadcast booth. After Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, and Butch Jones, it’s understandable to want a more media-friendly face for the program. You see him out there every week, tantalizingly close. He’s been away from big-time coaching for a while, but you bet he’s still got what it takes.
Well, that’s the list. Have you made your choice?
Great, I’ll go get him.
What’s that? No, you can tell me which one you picked later. First, let’s get this contract signed, buddy.