Coaching carousel winners and losers (yes, Tennessee is definitely a loser)

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Forget the actual football. Forget the 4-8 fiasco, the school’s first winless conference record since 1924, firing the coach with two weeks left in the season. Tennessee (1) quite likely just concluded the worst season in its history Saturday.

All that was bad. And then came Sunday, when it somehow got worse.

As Yahoo Sports reported, the school was poised to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano (2) — the guy who achieved the impossible by making Rutgers (3) respectable earlier this century. And then came the lynch mob to destroy the deal.

You people are ridiculous. Not all of you, but the delusional loudmouths who somehow think a program with a 62-63 record over the last decade is too good for Schiano. The internet vigilantes who want to bully their way into running the school’s coaching search. The piling-on politicians. The protestors. The rock painters. The rubes who still are waiting for Jon Gruden to slide down the chimney.

But the worst among the Tennessee lunatic fringe are the disingenuous liars who say this Schiano backlash is about Mike McQueary’s testimony regarding Jerry Sandusky and things that happened at Penn State, when in reality it’s because they don’t think Schiano is going to win a Southeastern Conference title. Don’t go getting righteously indignant when this has nothing to do with being righteous and everything to do with trying to beat Georgia.

Tennessee’s talks with Greg Schiano broke down on Sunday evening following fan and social media backlash. (AP)
Tennessee’s talks with Greg Schiano broke down on Sunday evening following fan and social media backlash. (AP)

Carnival barker Clay Travis, who spent Sunday fomenting this revolt, makes it clear in this column what he thinks is the primary problem with Schiano: “In what universe does it make sense to hire Greg [expletive] Schiano right now? We’re talking about a guy with a losing record in college football at Rutgers who got fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and just vanished from coaching until Urban Meyer decided to hire him as defensive coordinator.” In the next paragraph, he gets to the Penn State business. But first? First and foremost? It’s the mortal sin of a losing record at Rutgers.

If you are a Tennessee fan who has sincere ethical qualms about what Schiano may have known at Penn State many years ago, fine. The attorney general who prosecuted the Sandusky case doesn’t, but OK. Ohio State apparently is satisfied with Schiano’s reputation, since it has employed him the last two years.

But if you used this as a Trojan horse to blockade a coaching hire you don’t like because you think Tennessee football deserves better, shame on you. And now that the Schiano hire has been blown up because of this, good luck landing the next guy. Who would want to deal with this fan base right now?


It’s been a frantic few days on the coaching carousel, with jobs opening and closing rapidly. In all honesty, it will take a couple of years to begin to sort out the home runs from the strikeouts, the great moves from the boneheaded ones — but who has time for that? Thus The Dash applies some instant reaction to what has happened — and what appears likely to happen next:

Biggest winner: UCLA (4). The Bruins won the Chip Kelly sweepstakes, beating out Florida to land the best coach available. There’s no good reason why UCLA has accomplished so much less historically than Los Angeles rival USC — and with the arrival of Kelly and upgrades in facilities, that might now change. The Pac-12 South is no murderer’s row, having produced zero playoff teams and zero league champions since 2008. It’s there for the taking for Kelly.

Other winners: Nebraska (5). Another school that appears to have outmaneuvered Florida for the coach it wanted. When the Gators couldn’t land Central Florida’s Scott Frost, it spiked the speculation that Frost would come home to his alma mater and try to resurrect the Cornhuskers. If athletic director Bill Moos can close the deal — likely not until after undefeated UCF plays in the American Athletic Conference championship game — it will be an adrenaline boost the program hasn’t enjoyed since the 1990s.

Dan Mullen (6). He did great work for nine years at Mississippi State, and is rewarded with a Cadillac job. Mullen certainly doesn’t have to apologize for being Florida’s Plan C; take the upgrade and don’t look back. He’s coming back to a school he knows from his time as an assistant, and working for an athletic director he knows from their time together in Starkville. And Florida’s offer allowed him to turn down the tire fire at Tennessee.

Iowa State (7). If Frost is indeed going to Nebraska, that could mean that second-year coach Matt Campbell is staying in Ames. For now. There are more dominoes to fall, and Campbell could be in play elsewhere after leading a remarkable 7-5 season at a perennial losing program.

The Pac-12 (8). Chip Kelly is coming back. Arizona State has a chance at an upgrade over ousted Todd Graham (Kevin Sumlin would qualify). Oregon State gets to press the reset button. Mike Leach just might stick around at Washington State. Chris Petersen and David Shaw appear to be locked in at Washington and Stanford. Willie Taggart and Justin Wilcox had solid first seasons in the league at Oregon and California, respectively. The coaching is getting better in the league.

Other losers beyond Tennessee fans:

Mississippi State (9). The most successful coach of the last 70 years just left, but is still in the league. The Bulldogs can’t have nice things.

Arkansas (10). Hopes of luring Auburn’s Gus Malzahn back to his home state probably took a big hit Saturday, when Malzahn took down Alabama and boosted the Tigers’ chances of making the College Football Playoff. There’s no way Auburn lets Malzahn walk now.

More college football coverage from Yahoo Sports:
Tennessee backs out of deal with Greg Schiano after fan backlash
Western Kentucky punter might have had the worst play of the season
Alabama DB appears to shove Auburn fan after game