If Not Hugh Then Who?
There is nothing in modern college sports like a Tennessee coaching search. It has all the emotions of a Hollywood cinema and feels more similar to an episode of Game of Thrones vs an actual competent coaching search. It's clear at this point most fans prefer Hugh Freeze over all others. Chip Lindsey, to many people's excitement, is off the table. Kendal Briles at Houston. Darrell Dickey is at Texas A&M. Mike Locksley is now the head coach at the University of Maryland. Kliff Kingsbury is at USC. David Yost is at Texas Tech. So many other schools have made moves and it feels like, as always, we are at a stand still. I think most Vols fans worries at this moment is that Hugh will soon be taking the Florida State job over our own so we find ourselves asking who's left?
Rocky Top Insider recently reported that we won't be hiring from within. Many people are worried we will hire Will Friend because of his success at CSU and his friendship with Coach Pruitt. Add in the fact that his rise to power would be similar to Fulmers coming up from an OL Coach to OC causes even more worry among the fan base. But I will continue to hope and assume that he will not be promoted and RTI has reported correctly. Again makes you ask who will be left?
Why are we in this position again? Why are we always watching other schools make moves while we sit back and take the left overs? We are Tennessee. We are year in and year out the highest grossing team in the SEC when it comes to making money.
Even despite our failures as a football program our fans still spend money on events, games, and gear. We should be the front runners in every situation. Alabama football has become a dream of excellence with their success since Sabans arrival and most years our fan base still brings in more money than theirs. That should tell you something is wrong and it's not the fan base, it's the greedy talking heads behind the scenes at our University. Choosing greed over doing what's right because they know they can put out a sub-par product and our loyalty won't waver.
But let me get back on track. Who are some viable options? I have compiled a short list of candidates and people to keep your eye on that may help ease your worries if we don't land Hugh Freeze.
Larry FedoraHere is a name you can get excited about. Though recently fired from North Carolina as a Head Coach he is an offensive mind with a proven track record that puts QBs in the NFL. He has coached at Florida so he has SEC experience. He coached under Mike Gundey so he has learned from a great offensive mind. And for the most part he had some strong offenses as the Head Coach at North Carolina and Southern Miss. If Hugh goes elsewhere this is a name to watch out for.
Mike Sanford Jr. Former Offensive Coordinator at Notre Dame and Boise State this young smooth coach could be a great asset to the Vols. He was recently fired as the Head Coach of Western Kentucky. Though there may be some questions marks surrounding him considering he's never coached in the SEC this is a name you should keep your eye on.
Freddie Kitchens As a Cleveland Browns fan you would think this name would excite me, but sadly it doesn't. I don't think his track record is long enough despite the rumors of him coming here partially based on his relationship with Jeremy Pruitt. We don't know how well he can recruit but given his success at the Browns in such a short time you would think he likely could work miracles anywhere if we can do it at the Browns right? Also it's important to note the Cleveland Browns owner is also one of Tennessee's largest, if not largest, donors. His name keeps popping up, but I don't know how likely he really is as a candidate.
Dan Enos The man seems set up to become Alabama's next offensive coordinator. If they decide to look elsewhere and not promote him from within you have to ask yourself why? And is he really somebody we want if Alabama, who's success is almost guaranteed at this point, doesn't think he is someone worth promoting to the position?
Mike YurcichHe has been with Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy since 2013. In that time their offense has been a regular inhabitant of the top 20 ranking in college football. He has put multiple QB's in the NFL and would seem to be a good fit using that as a recruiting pitch. But would he leave Oklahoma State, his staple of constancy for here, is a question you have to ask? He makes 800k annually so it may take a pretty hefty paycheck to lure him away on top of his buyout.
Jim Chaney It would be a longshot to take him away from Georgia. We would really have to open up the check book. But he has coached at Tennessee before during the Dooley era. He was the lone bright spot being here from 2009-2012 finding success in his offenses despite Dooley's incompetence (He was even our Head Coach for a short while after Dooley was let go.). He has created a great offense down at Georgia like he did here. and it would be a perfect fit but I wouldn't bet my house on it. Keep your eyes on him but don't keep your heart set on it, because this would be a longshot if there ever was one.
Matt Canada A dear friend a colleague of mine would be mad if I left out Matt Canada. He has a great proven track record, has coached in the SEC, and is known for his prolific and successful offenses. The main question around him is, will he take the Louisville Head Coaching vacancy. If he declines or they go elsewhere this is a name we should really hope for if Hugh Freeze falls through. There is a quick list I've compiled of potential offensive coordinator candidates. If you think I've forgotten anyone let me know in the comments below and we can add them to this list to help our fans keep their eyes open of who may be heading to The Hill. We will credit you with the help as well.