Well, it happened.
Missouri football killed a guy.
After being pummeled into the Faurot Field artificial turf to the tune of 50-17, John Currie and the University of Tennessee decided enough was enough and relieved Butch Jones of his position as head coach of the Vols. As first reported by Sports Illustrated’d Bruce Feldman, the former head man on the Hill was finally fired after quite the lackluster 2017 and despite a 34-27 overall record (14-24 in the SEC) over five seasons and a bowl game in each of the last three, the slobbering zombie congregation that is comprised of VFL’s voiced their displeasure for the last two.
It wasn’t just the losses, it was the way that Jones was building them. Whether it was a six-point loss to an equally-pathetic Florida team, a zero touchdown performance to South Carolina, the worst home loss ever to Alabama, or this past weekend’s demolition by Mizzou, Butch’s days have been numbered for quite some time. Hell, they were two fortunes of good luck away from losing to Appalachian State and Ohio last year. At home!
Now, on to the actual position. Tennessee is a sleeping giant, plain and simple. It’s not quite the job it used to be when Phillip Fulmer was doing the damn thing in the 90’s, winning 10+ games, going to Atlanta, and winning a national title, but the program has plenty of money, a rabid fanbase, humongous stadium, and they still play in the Southeastern Conference.
If someone can win, compete with Alabama, and continue to recruit at a high level, it could be restored to it’s glory of the Fulmer years. Maybe. So let’s see which poor sap could potentially be interested in living in Knoxville for millions and millions of dollars and that could potentially affect the Ole Miss search.
Pipe dream candidates
Jon Gruden - Monday Night Football analyst, Corona spokesperson
For whatever reason, Vol fans are fucking obsessed with a guy who hasn’t coached in a decade. Hell, he hasn’t coached in college since 1991(!). But, but he was a graduate assistant once back in 1986! And he won that Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team in 2002!! His wife is a VFL for God’s sake, Cup!
With all that said, he was 95-81 overall as a NFL coach and after winning said Super Bowl, he went 45-51 and lost two Wild Card games. Oh, and that last college job that I spoke of was at Pacific as a tight ends coach. He’s never been anything higher than a passing game coordinator at the college level and hasn’t recruited a teenager in the modern era. But, hey sure, hire the guy, doesn’t bother us Ole Miss fans one bit.
Chip Kelly - ESPN analyst for NFL/NCAA football
The second most popular rumor on Rocky Top is that of former Oregon Ducks head man and inventor of the “controlled chaos” offense made famous in the Pac 12. He never won less than 10 games in Eugene, won three conference titles, two access bowls, and made it to a national title game. After he bolted for the NFL, he won the NFC East and had back-to-back 10-win seasons before fizzling out.
But, as far as college goes, he has been adamant about how much he despises recruiting and is a bit of an off-putting demeanor that was part of his demise in the NFL. Would he want to get back into coaching and compete in the SEC where recruiting is practically everything? He had it made at Oregon and had freedom to do whatever he wants. At Tennessee, it will be the complete opposite and he would be under a microscope. And expected to beat Bama. Not very appealing.
Bob Stoops - former Oklahoma head coach
Real candidates that John Currie should contact ASAP
Dan Mullen - Mississippi State head coach
We know this man all too well. He has built himself a nice little program in Starkville, winning five bowl games, achieving a No. 1 ranking, and coming oh so close to beating Bama a few times (something Butch never did). Not to mention that Dan has been known for his offensive prowess and quarterback development, something Tennessee has also lacked for quite some time.
Mullen recently hired sports super agent Jimmy Sexton, and those in the biz have been known to say, “you don’t hire Sexton to keep a job, you hire him to get one.” Could it be time for Dan the Man to leave Starkville and find something bigger? This would be my first call if I was Tennessee. Aside from ranked opponents, Dan is a proven winner, has a capable staff, a fun offense, and keeps his nose relatively clean with the NCAA. For now.
Scott Frost - UCF head coach
The Boy Wonder from Nebraska has turned the Golden Knights into the Group of Five’s only hope to make a NY6 bowl and he is doing it in dominant fashion. His new-school spread option is what college football is evolving to and it would be something that Tennessee could easily run with their knack for signing top-flight running backs year in and year out.
Despite Orlando having nice weather and Disney World, Central Florida is a stepping stone job and Frost has got to want more. Would Rocky Top suffice or is he waiting on his alma mater? He is young, a great recruiter, learned from the best at Oregon, has mentored a Heisman Trophy winner, and has got to be chomping at the bit for a shot. He would be call No. 2 for me.
Matt Campbell - Iowa State head coach
The former Toledo head coach is doing big things in Ames this season. In just his second year, he has beaten two top five opponents and has the Cyclones faithful buzzing about being back to relevancy. Which was last achieved when Seneca Wallace was there. He recruits well and is very young. Along with his young staff, he would be a big-time hire for the Vols because of his instant credibility in year two and success on the recruiting trail.
He also might be the first candidate that actually affects Ole Miss’ search. I still think he is a pipe dream and wouldn’t necessarily mesh well in the Southeast, but he is winning and winning early at ISU and Ole Miss needs instant credibility. Frost is another name Rebel fans love, but he is a big fish and will likely land at a bigger and better job than Oxford. If i was Currie, I would be blowing up Campbell’s texts, Facebook, Twitter DM’s, LinkedIn, and MySpace.
Bobby Petrino - Louisville head coach
I know that he comes with baggage, but this is a business and winning is all that really matters, right? Despite his recent transgressions, he has put together some of the most innovative and successful offenses in college football in recent years. And he’s done it at some tough spots. The dude won at CUSA/Big East Louisville and Sun Belt Western Kentucky. Despite it’s SEC credentials and big pockets, Tennessee is plopped down in a weird spot. Bobby could bridge that gap and then some with his experience at obscure places.
Did I mention he coached a Heisman Trophy winner last year? Like Frost, he has pulled the trigger on plays for Lamar Jackson for the past couple years and has won 73 games at Louisville in the past four seasons. Despite their 6-4 record, Petrino would bring that trending topic of “instant credibility” to Knoxville that is sorely needed after making bonehead hires like Jones, Derek Dooley, and Lane Kiffin. In my opinion, he would do well at Tennessee and it would be lovely to see him and Nick Saban interact at the 50-yard line before and after games.
Charlie Strong - USF head coach
The final name is one that should peak Ole Miss’ attention. Because he should be their No. 1 target. The Bulls head coach is enjoying some big success a year removed from that anal probe in Austin where it appears no one is going to succeed anytime soon. Charlie famously turned down Tennessee back in 2012 and the Vols might want him back now that they’re on the hunt again.
He checks all the boxes: proven winner, great recruiter, solid staff, and instant credibility. He might be farther down the list now that he is out of Power 5 jurisdiction (fine by me), but Currie might want to give him another ring. South Florida is 8-1 and on a crash course to face Frost and UCF for the AAC East title. If he wins that (and is still available), he might just get that call.
The obvious direct effects of this opening would be Tennessee stealing Charlie Strong from Bjork, Dan Mullen leaving State, Scott Frost and Matt Campbell being off the board for good, and the hilarity that would ensue if they actually fucking hired Jon Gruden. But, other than that, this is something that Ole Miss fans shouldn’t really worry about.
Unless Mullen leaves and State were to go after a name on Bjork’s hot board. Then we would have a problem. But, again, I don’t see that happening. It’s not exactly their style. They usually go local and/or an up-and-coming coordinator. And if they were to steal Strong from our hot board, crimes might be committed by yours truly.
But, with all the tongue and cheek mentioned above, Tennessee is still a more appealing offer for potential suitors with the amount of money, resources, and facilities there. Not to mention they’re not under the NCAA’s thumb right now.