To call the Tennessee Volunteers coaching search a "dumpster fire" now seems to be an understatement. It may be burning out of control to the point the entire campus could burn down after being turned down once again by a solid qualified candidate. Actually the Vols have been turned down two days in a row; Oklahoma States' Mike Gundy on Tuesday and Purdue's Jeff Brohm on Wednesday.
I believe we never really had a shot at Gundy, but I also believe Tennessee could have signed Brohm. That is until U.T. Chancellor Dr. Beverly Davenport stepped in and refused to pay the $5 million buyout that Brohm would owe Purdue. In addition to appearing to be stupid and dysfunctional Tennessee is now portrayed as being cheap.
All the chatter on talk shows this week has centered around Tennessee and the "Three Stooges" approach to hiring a new football coach. So while the "dumpster fire" burns, very little has been mentioned about the SEC Championship game Saturday in Atlanta; a game that elsewhere around the SEC is perhaps the most anticipated match up in years. Georgia looking for revenge against Auburn and trying to wedge back in the College Football Playoffs, makes this game one of the two marquee title games on Saturday. (Clemson versus Miami for the ACC Championship being the other.)
As Tennessee continues to look for its fifth head coach in ten years, here is a quick preview of the SEC Championship Game.
When the Tigers scored a 40-17 win over the then top-ranked Bulldogs they looked totally invincible. They looked invincible again last week with their 26-14 win over then top ranked Alabama. But there is a question about star running back Kerryon Johnson who injured his shoulder in the Iron Bowl victory over 'Bama. Johnson says he expects to play and his teammates expect him to play. That remains to be seen. If Johnson isn't able to go, Auburn could be in trouble. I believe that Auburn will once again stop or slow down the 'Dawgs rushing attack and allow freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to beat them, and I now believe Fromm becomes the biggest player in the game. All eyes are on him and if he comes through, Georgia has a chance.
Last Week: 6-3
Final Count: 87-24
I also pick Clemson to win over Miami, Oklahoma will also beat TCU and Wisconsin will edge Ohio State in the Big Ten. If that happens, the College Football Playoff poll will remain as it is this week, which leaves Alabama on the outside looking in.
Meanwhile who does John Currie offer the Tennessee job to next? As of this morning it's Dave Doeren from N.C. State, even though the Wolfpack administration is putting together a counter offer. If Doeren does turn it down, Currie should forget about "winning the press conference," and concentrate on hiring a good football coach; one that will win football games. It's okay if Doeren turns the Vols down because there are still good candidates out there. Currie should relax, be patient and not offer the job to just anyone to get the position filled. Look at Tee Martin, the former Vol who could unite the Vol Nation like no other. Then and only then can we put out that "dumpster fire."
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.