Tag Archives: Southeastern Conference

Where Does Tennessee Go From Here?


Greg Schiano

A few days ago the Tennessee Volunteers were set to hire Ohio State Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as their next head football coach. Schiano was set to take over at Tennessee after Butch Jones was fired after a 4-6 start during this college football season. But Tennessee would back track from their decision to hire Schiano amid protests from fans as well as politicians within the state. This decision was the result of Schiano being associated with the Penn State Nittany Lions football program for six years during the tenure of Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of sexually assaulting boys on Penn State’s campus during his time as the school’s defensive coordinator, and then while he was ran his Second Mile charity. Schiano’s name became associated with this tragedy during a civil case between former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary and the school last year when it became known that McQueary testified that he let defensive coordinator Tom Bradley know of seeing Sandusky in the shower with a boy in 2001. In his testimony McQueary also claimed that Bradley heard similar stories from Schiano during his tenure at the school.

These are allegations that both Bradley and Schiano have denied, and for the most they appear to be hearsay. But for the folks in Knoxville, this was enough for some of them to voice their displeasure in the attempted hire of Schiano by Tennessee athletic director John Currie. And what the Vols now have on their hands in a public relations nightmare.

Tennessee has won 13 Southeastern Conference Championships and they’ve also claimed six national championships with the most recent one coming in 1998. Tennessee’s program has a storied tradition as they’ve also produced Pro Football Hall of Famers which includes defensive end Reggie White and quarterback Peyton Manning. But since 2007, the Volunteers only have four winning seasons with no SEC Titles to show for it while they have a combined four victories versus the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Florida Gators over that stretch. These three teams are Tennessee’s top rivals in the SEC, but the Vol Nation has had to sit by and watch their beloved team get the breaks consistently beaten by the top teams in the SEC.

The folks in Knoxville want you to believe that the Tennessee coaching job isn’t just another coaching gig and it is not. Neyland Stadium in Knoxville seats more than 102,000 as it has the fifth largest seating capacity in college football. Tennessee’s football program also has some of the best facilities in the nation. But playing college football in Knoxville is not as attractive as it once was and the blame for that falls into the laps of the powers that be there.

When Tennessee decided to part with longtime head football Philip Fulmer in 2007, they did so as they felt that the game had passed him by. Fulmer only had two losing seasons at Tennessee while he had a national championship to his credit, as well as six top ten finishes in the Associated Press Poll. But Fulmer was up against the wave of dominance of Florida, while another one was about to begin with Alabama. And although that some people feel that it was time for Tennessee to move on from Fulmer, it is clear that they never had an adequate plan B.

Since Fulmer’s departure, Tennessee has had five different head coaches, five losing seasons, no conference titles, and no top ten finishes. And whereas the job at Tennessee should be looked at as being a premier job, it no longer is.

The Volunteers have become the butt of many jokes due to their bungling of the hire of Schiano. Aside from everything Schiano would have never succeeded at Tennessee as his “New Jersey swag” would have never gone together with Knoxville. But the real kicker is that Schiano was not Tennessee’s first choice to take over the program.

Jon Gruden

The Volunteers have also been linked to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden and Oregon Ducks head football coach Chip Kelly who opted to join the UCLA Bruins. And after the Schiano fiasco, Tennessee turned to former offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe who refused to leave the comfort of his post as the head football coach of the Duke Blue Devils. Tennessee was seeking to get Oklahoma State Cowboys head football coach Mike Gundy to leave Stillwater, but to no avail. Current Purdue Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm was also courted by Tennessee and that went nowhere which led them to focus on North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.  And just like the other candidates, Doeren decided to remain where he was at. Then there was the courtship of Washington State Cougars head football coach Mike Leach as Tennessee athletic director John Currie appeared to be set to hire him. But since then Currie has been let go as Tennessee’s athletic director with multiple reports coming out that Fulmer has been sabotaging the coaching search as he is seeking to become the school’s new AD. At this point whoever Tennessee hires is going to be a head scratcher because it will be a head coach in which they had to settle on.

And at this point for Tennessee, the only two hires that could allow them to save some face would be bringing in either Tee Martin or Les Miles.

Martin was the Vols starting quarterback when they won the national championship in 1998. Martin is currently the offensive coordinator of the USC Trojans and he does not have any prior experience as a head coach. And although that Martin helped the Vols win a national championship as a player, is the State of Tennessee ready to have an African-American head coach lead their team?

In nearly 12 full seasons as the head football coach of LSU Tigers, Miles compiled a record of 114-34 which included going 62-28 within the Southeastern Conference. Miles won a national championship at LSU and he had a pipeline to the National Football League. Age could work against Miles as he is 64, but he has the charisma that could win over the fan base in Knoxville along with his ability to sell water to a whale if need be.

After the struggles of Tennessee under Jones this past season which included going winless in the Southeastern Conference for the first time in school history, I expected changes to be made. But I never expected that we would see a situation play out like this where Tennessee has been denied more than a door-to-door salesman. But this is the current state of Volunteers football as things are very rocky on Rocky Top.


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Unrealistic Expectations For A&M


Kevin Sumlin

The end of the line has come for Kevin Sumlin as the head football coach of the Texas A&M Aggies. In six seasons at A&M, Sumlin was 51-26 and in the process he became the first head football coach in school history since Dana Bible to have a winning record in each season at College Station. But what ultimately did Sumlin in were the unrealistic expectations which are thrust on the football program at A&M.

Sumlin took over at Texas A&M in 2012 on the heels of the Aggies joining the Southeastern Conference. That season A&M would go 11-2 which included defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide and winning the Cotton Bowl as they were paced by quarterback Johnny Manziel who won the Heisman Trophy. Since then the Aggies were never able to rekindle that magic as they’ve gone 8-5 in the last three seasons. Under Sumlin the Aggies are only 25-22 within the Southeastern Conference which includes being just 4-14 versus the Auburn Tigers, LSU Tigers, and Alabama as these are consistently the top three teams in the SEC West which ultimately was his undoing.

Boosters and school officials at A&M have left no stone unturned in regards to giving the Aggies some of the best football facilities in the nation. Kyle Field has undergone an extensive renovation, while the State of Texas is littered with some of the top high school football players in the nation. Under Sumlin, the Aggies have produced several first-round picks in the National Football League Draft which includes Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Mattews and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. But even with that A&M has been unable to take that next step as a football program.

Under Sumlin, Texas A&M has generally ranked near the bottom of total defense in the nation in spite of the fact that defensive coordinator John Chavis is earning more than $1.5 million annually. This season the Aggies are ranked 60th in the nation in total defense which is actually an improvement, but they still came up short against Auburn and Alabama while surrendering more than 600 yards to LSU this past Saturday.

Sumlin has also played musical chairs at quarterback. Since 2014, the Aggies have had eight different starting quarterbacks. And in the case of Kyler Murray, Kenny Hill, and Kyle Allen, they all transferred to other Football Bowl Subdivision programs where they have seen playing time. Earlier this year Sumlin also missed out on bringing in quarterback Jarrett Stidham who was seeking to revive his college football career after sitting out last season after starting off with the Baylor Bears. Stidham left Baylor’s football program once the school parted ways with Art Briles as their head football coach. Stidham wanted to come to A&M, but Sumlin ultimately passed on him. Stidham would ultimately join Auburn and his first season with the Tigers has seen him help the program contend for another title in the Southeastern Conference, while the Aggies are 69th in the nation in total offense.

Sumlin also missed out on quarterback Jalen Hurts who is from Channelview, Texas as he ultimately decided on joining Alabama. And at Alabama, Hurts has turned into a household name by helping the Crimson Tide remain in contention for the national championship.

So now that the powers that be a Texas A&M will look towards hiring a new head football coach who’ll be able to keep up with the Joneses in the Southeastern Conference, will they find someone who’ll be capable of doing it? When A&M left the Big 12 Conference in favor of the SEC, it was all about getting out of the shadow of the Texas Longhorns. However while in the Big 12, the Aggies only secured one outright conference title, and you have to go back to 1999 to find the last time in which A&M finished three consecutive seasons ranked.

These are not the days of R.C. Slocum at College Station and whether it was the Southwest Conference, or the Big 12, the Aggies are no longer in a football conference that is simply dominated by two or three teams. I understand that money is being spent ferociously by Texas A&M in order to compete, but being able to go 1-2 versus Alabama, Auburn, and LSU each year is a win in itself. A&M got a boatload money from the Southeastern Conference to join, but the conference itself won out as they now have a media market in Texas which has also given Alabama, Auburn and LSU an even better opportunity to get the top high school football talent from the Longhorn State.

Whomever the new head football coach at Texas A&M will be will also have to deal with the fact that Texas is back on the upswing, while he’ll also have to fend off the Oklahoma Sooners for talent within the State of Texas which is never an easy task.

I understand that people who are spending their money want more bang for their buck, but like I always say, some of these college football programs would be better off being thankful for an 8-4 season and going to a second-tier bowl game instead of believing that they can compete for a conference crown and national title each year. A&M falls into that category as they entered the Southeastern Conference in search of fool’s gold which was only magnified by the attention that they received when Manziel was their starting quarterback. Now the search for finding a new head football coach in College Station has begun as the Aggies are going to be hard pressed finding someone who’ll be able to return the program to the glory days when they were still in the Southwestern Conference.

Source: Sports-reference.com, Cfbstats.com


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