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Post Our humble suggestions for UT’s next coach

Tuesday November 4, 2008

We have the luxury of looking at Phil Fulmer’s departure from the perspective of our own self-interest. We get to enjoy and take advantage of this season’s Vol meltdown, temper our own misfortunes by recognizing that it could be much, much worse, and hope that they botch the search and ensure a few more years of chaos to our north. Odds are though that the Vols will probably get a decent coach. It’s a tough job, sure, but quality and ambitious coaches are attracted to that kind of challenge.

Knowing full well that the next Vol coach will probably be someone I’ve left off this list, here’s one Dawg fan’s breakdown of who I do and don’t want to see coaching the Vols. This list has nothing at all to do with how likely a certain guy is to take the job.

We don’t want:

  • Butch Davis. National championship cred? Check. Ahead of schedule on his present turnaround job? Check. A recruiting track record in the South? Check. Attainable? Most likely; Tennessee is a step up from UNC (as much as it pains my Tar Heel upbringing to say so), and Davis hasn’t exactly been hesitant to jump at a better offer. Negatives? Sure. Tennessee is used to hiring a coach every few decades, and the same job-hopping that makes Davis seem attainable might also make Vol fans wonder if he’d hang around. He’s no choir boy when it comes to recruiting, but that would likely be a plus in Big Orange country. He’s also nearing 60 years of age and has had health issues – the lack of stress at UNC (relative to what it’d be at Tennessee) could be a factor.

    I don’t see why he wouldn’t be choice #1 for the job, and from what I’ve read he seems to be. He has a head-to-head bowl win over a Spurrier-coached Florida team. He’d join Saban and Spurrier as failed NFL experiments, but he’d at least be able to point to a NFL playoff appearance. Consider this scenario, Dawg fans: Davis might have his pick of Tennessee or Auburn. Where would you rather see him?

We’d rather not:

  • Mike Leach. Someone’s going to get him, and no coach’s stock is higher right now. Even in a pass-happy offense, he places a premium on the offensive line which will be appreciated by the UT old guard. His demeanor and brand of offense might require some adjustment after decades of a much more conservative style, but it’s not hard to adjust to winning.
  • Chris Petersen. Boise’s only become stronger since Dan Hawkins left, and the Broncos already have one former coach toiling in the SEC. If you can build (and, more importantly, sustain) a quality program in Boise, why not Knoxville?
  • The Utah guys. Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall are both quality coaches, but both seem pretty rooted to their home state. It would be an unexpected coup to convince either to leave for the South.
  • Gary Patterson. Dennis Franchione’s successor at TCU has won at over a 70% clip since taking over in 2001. He’s also recorded recent wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Ain’t skeered:

  • The NFL guys. You’ll see Gruden and Cowher mentioned for one reason or another. Both are tough, no-nonsense men’s men whose style would probably mesh well with what they expect at UT. We don’t know if either has a taste for the college game or recruiting. It’s one thing to be a dedicated football man, but it’s another when 3/4 of the job is fundraising and kissing the tail of some 17-year-old prima donna who just told you the same thing he told Mack Brown.
  • Tim Brewster. A great turnaround from last season, but it’s not time yet.
  • David Cutcliffe. We know that Georgia hasn’t beaten Tennessee when the Vols have had Cutcliffe coaching the offense, but Cutcliffe as head coach is another story. The Dawgs were able to handle even his better Ole Miss teams.
  • Randy Edsall. He’s done a fine job building UConn into a place where people no longer say, "oh, you have a football team too?" But building a somewhat competitive Big East program isn’t the same as turning around an SEC power.

Please, oh please:

  • Will Muschamp. Muschamp is the up-and-coming coordinator riding a rocket through the coaching ranks and seems to be the choice of those wanting young blood. Fine. His BOOM, MFer!!! style is attractive to any football fan, but Georgia hasn’t had many problems against Muschamp defenses lately. He’d be heavily reliant on his assembled staff as he lacks the head coaching experience and recruiting roots to be effective out of the gate. One also has to wonder how much a last-minute Texas Tech drive tarnishes the Muschamp reputation.
  • The UT guys. John Chavis probably has too much baggage to be considered, but even the popular Trooper Taylor would be an awkward choice. Most Vol fans seem to realize that this is the time for a clean break, and I don’t expect any of the former staff to be candidates.
  • Lane Kiffin. I’ll let HP explain why we’d love to see Kiffin in Knoxville.

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