Everyone knew that Tennessee would have a hard time finding a suitable replacement for Derek Dooley. Well, scratch that. Everyone besides Tennessee fans knew that Tennessee would have a hard time finding a suitable replacement for Derek Dooley.
Vols fans are currently going through a slow but necessary process that a lot of former powerhouses have had to -- and will have to go -- through. The college football landscape of today is not what it once was. Names that rung out way back when don’t anymore.
Now, does that mean Tennessee isn’t a prominent coaching job? Of course not. It is. It just isn’t any more prominent than any other job in the SEC.
That’s why, while Tennessee fans were being delusional about Jon Gruden, the rest of the college football-watching world sat back and waited for reality to seep in.
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Gruden is not walking through that door. Charlie Strong is not walking through that door. Mike Gundy is not walking through that door.
The Vols will have to settle for less.
Here is the latest on who is reportedly in the hunt for the Tennessee gig at this point in time:
Hart can still make a good hire. North Carolina's Larry Fedora, Miami's Al Golden, West Virginia's Dana Holgersen, Cincinnati's Butch Jones, Penn State's Bill O'Brien or Iowa State's Paul Rhoads would all be viewed as significant upgrades over Dooley and have a chance to win in Knoxville. [Detroit Free Press]
Good candidates are still out there. George Michael "Mike" MacIntyre did an amazing turnaround job at San Jose State and has coached in the southeast before. Willie Taggart has done wonders for Western Kentucky and is right nearby. Bobby Petrino is out there if Hart wants to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. If he drops his head coaching experience requirement, which did so much for Derek Dooley, then it opens the door to a familiar face in John Chavis and a real up-and-comer in Jim Harbaugh's offensive coordinator Greg Roman. [SB Nation]
Regardless of who Tennessee ultimately hires (someone has to finally say yes, right?), this much is for certain: the Vols brand has taken a serious hit over the last few years.
Winning is the only way to get back to the top of the mountain.