Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski – USA Today Sports
A little over 3 years ago, the Tennessee football program was amidst yet another coaching search after the dumpster fire that was the end of the Butch Jones era in Rocky Top. The team had come to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with now-Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano before caving to the mob which protested the hire.
This mob was led by Fox Sports’ Clay Travis, noted Tennessee fan and stirrer of the pot, over shaky (at best) allegations that Schiano had some knowledge of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that took place during his time at Penn State. With the backlash started by Travis, the deal fell apart within hours leaving Schiano the odd man out and eventually bring Jeremy Pruitt to the Volunteers.
Make no mistake, this was a complete assassination of character because Travis and his goons didn’t think Schiano was a good enough coach. Had the former Ohio State assistant been a top-candidate in coaching circles you can guarantee there would have been parades welcoming him to Knoxville with open arms. As disgusting as it looked from the outside, it worked and y’all got your guy, right?
Well it turns out that Schiano has Rutgers on the up-and-up after year one at the helm, and Pruitt was fired with cause because he was handing out bags of cash to top recruits so that they can finally make a bowl game at 6-6. Not only are you in a worse spot than Schiano’s Scarlet Knights, you appear to be receiving a small dose of your own medicine.
New head coach Josh Huepel comes into Rocky Top looking to bring home the program’s first 10-win season since 2007, but one man who won’t be helping in that task is Al Washington.
Washington reportedly turned down $1.5m a year to take over as the Vols defensive coordinator, instead opting to return to Columbus in an updated role. By all available information, we will see the LB coach step in to fill the hole left by Greg Mattison’s retirement as co-DC.
Ryan Day’s ability to retain staff has been impressive, but even more beautiful to see in this case is the irony on Tennessee’s side. Not even 5 years ago fans ran out of town a very competent, and by all nearly all accounts good man because they didn’t think that he was good enough for them. Well guess what Vols fans? Any job at an Ohio State caliber program is far, far superior to anything that Tennessee can provide, and maybe the “Feels like ’98” crowd will finally start to understand that.