It was reported yesterday, at approximately 2 p.m. EST, that Tennessee and Greg Schiano were finalizing talks to make Schiano the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.
I – along with most Tennessee fans – was shocked and disappointed.
Greg Schiano’s coaching resume is not the worst of all of Tennessee’s candidates. Although his record in his 11-year span as the head coach at Rutgers is nothing to write home about (68-67), he did take the Scarlet Knights to an 11-2 record and a 12th place finish in the AP in 2006 in what turned out to be the best season in the program’s history. He then spent less than two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before getting fired, and has acted as the defensive coordinator for Ohio State in the last two seasons under Urban Meyer.
While this was part of the issue, this was not where most of the outrage by Vol fans stemmed. According to the Washington Post, in a testimony by former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary in 2012, “Schiano knew that Jerry Sandusky, their colleague on Joe Paterno’s football staff, was acting improperly with young boys years before law-enforcement authorities were first notified.”
This, combined with Schiano’s suspect coaching record, infuriated the Tennessee fan base. Vol fans gathered outside of Neyland Stadium, and then outside of the Brenda Lawson Athletic Complex to protest.
PROTEST: Gate 21, Neyland Stadium
Going on now
Mostly yelling about how badly we suck
— Jake Tidwell (@jaketidwell97) November 26, 2017
— Jake Tidwell (@jaketidwell97) November 26, 2017
MARCHING ON ANDERSON WITH @Jon__Reed and a lot of others
Come on out we’re here as long as we need to be pic.twitter.com/8zlwozsm5G
— Will (@gyrateplus) November 26, 2017
WE ARE THE CARETAKERS NOW. pic.twitter.com/t3t9y3eOqf
— jt (@jaketidwell97) November 26, 2017
Tennessee state representatives and gubernatorial candidates publicly spoke out against the hire.
— Rep. Jason Zachary (@JasonZacharyTN) November 26, 2017
We expect the highest standards for our public institutions. The special few chosen to lead within those institutions should have a demonstrated history of integrity and character. I hope today’s rumors are not true, because protecting children is more important than anything.
— Bill Lee (@BillLeeTN) November 26, 2017
Even local businesses in Knoxville took part, claiming they would not allow Schiano on their property if the hire was made.
Greg Schiano is not allowed in our establishment.
— Remedy Coffee (@remedy_coffee) November 26, 2017
— Hops and Hollers (@HopsandHollers) November 26, 2017
Some boosters and people inside the program were reportedly not happy with the hire as well, and reports started to leak out that the deal may be off.
“Deal is off”
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) November 26, 2017
Greg Schiano is currently concerned with the climate of the Tennessee fan base and the reaction towards reports of his contract being finalized at Tennessee. The deal may not get finalized.
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) November 26, 2017
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 27, 2017
At the end of the day, Tennessee fans got their wish. Talks between Tennessee and Greg Schiano fell through and he will not be the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.
In my 22 years on this planet, I have never seen something remotely like this at any level of football, and I am not alone.
I’ve been around some whirlwind sports stories in my career Tebowmania, Peyton Manning's free agency…..etc
The last 24 hours in the SEC is the craziest I’ve ever experienced.
Ripple effects that will span over a decade.
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) November 27, 2017
The Tennessee fanbase has not been more united and energized since the Vols were celebrating a national championship victory in 1998. Even media members that have been divided on all things Tennessee football this season came together for the cause.
Look, national media can think what they want about us, but at no point in history has every member of #VolTwitter AND the Tennessee media agreed on something. That's how big of a deal this Schiano thing is.
— Brian Rice (@briancrice) November 26, 2017
Although the Vols are coming off their worst season since they started playing football in 1891, there is no question that the Tennessee fanbase cemented itself as one of the most passionate in sports. Something like this is unprecedented. Tennessee fans came together to protest a hire that would have been disastrous on and off the field, and took back a program that has failed them for a decade.
John Currie released a statement earlier today, defending having Schiano as a candidate, but stating he will continue his search.
John Currie’s full statement defending his attempt to hire Schiano. He should be apologizing for his mistakes not defending them. pic.twitter.com/6yp28SQuez
— Reed Carringer (@ReedCarringer) November 27, 2017
There is now reportedly a significant push to relieve Currie of his duties as Tennessee’s director of athletics, and Tennessee’s search for a head coach continues. Whoever it is, you can bet the Tennessee administration will likely make sure the next guy they bring in will win over the fans.