Hoping UT Athletics Dysfunction Doesn't Permeate Rest Of University

Friday, December 1, 2017

I can only hope the dysfunction that is UT athletics does not permeate the rest of the university. There is no way the AD stepped out on his own to hire Schiano. If we lay this fiasco squarely at the feet of John Currie alone, then I fear nothing will really change. Currie will take the fall, and a new AD will be ushered in.

The sports nation has witnessed UT's comedy of errors  and continuous carousel of ADs and coaches. They know what Vol nation can't seem to accept, that UT athletics is unstable, dysfunctional and just not a premier post at this time.  The handling of Greg Schiano will set the program back years. (And the effects will ripple beyond football.) Why? Because even a $10 million per year offer could not budge Gruden from the press box, Chip Kelly goes to UCLA, Iowa State's Campbell declined, Mullen is in Florida, and  Gundy is a no go. Cutcliffe won't leave Duke to return home. Alums Witten and Jim Cooter decline. Purdue's Brohm says no. NC State's Doeren used UT to squeeze out a better deal with the Wolfpack. And on we go. At this point UT will be lucky to get someone with a better resume than Greg Schiano, or Butch Jones for that matter. 

Case for Greg Schiano: 

Rutgers' football claim to fame is the "birthplace of college football", circa 1869 game against Princeton. That's it.....  The northeast, from Maine to Maryland, is not a college football hotbed. We're talking about Boston College, UMass, UConn, Maryland, Army, Navy, Syracuse, Temple. Penn State is the nearest legitimate big time program. New Jersey has never been a college sports state. Professional sports dominate. Even high school football gets more press coverage than Rutgers football. (High school football is played on Saturdays in New Jersey.) 

And let's take into account that Rutgers-New Brunswick has only 44 percent of its students living on campus. Some would call it a commuter school, not exactly a fanatical base.  In its 130 year football history, Rutgers had been to exactly one bowl game, 1978, the Garden State (i.e. NJ) Bowl (0-1). The program was ranked only three times, 1976(17), 1961(15), 1958(18). In 2000, the average home game attendance was barely over 20,000. And the current coach was wrapping up a five year 11-44 record, leaving the program lower than invisible and without cupboards to even be laid bare.

In 2001, Rutgers hires Schiano.  He had to fight tooth and nail to get recruits, even from New Jersey.  But by 2011 when he left, he had taken Rutgers to six bowl appearances (5-1), attendance was pushing close to 50,000, plus Schiano's success compelled the school to spend over 100 million to expand the stadium in 2009. Rutgers was ranked nationally in 2006(7), 2007(10), 2009(25). [In the 14 (NFL) drafts pre-Schiano, Rutgers had six players selected. In Schiano’s 11 years, 17 Scarlet Knights were drafted, including the first three first-round picks in school history. And a year after he left, seven of his recruits were taken in the 2013 draft.]* Yes, his record was 68-67, but remove the first two years and he was 65-47(0.580). What Greg Schiano achieved is nothing short of amazing. And yet, to this day, you'll still find more Georgia red in East Ridge then you'll find Rutgers scarlet in the whole state of New Jersey. That's just the way it is in Jersey and the northeast.  

During this time Greg was offered to coach Michigan. The Tampa Bay Bucs thought enough of him to hire him as head coach. How many college head coaches can say that? Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, Doug Marrone.  Oh, and they all flunked, too. After Tampa Bay dismissed him, Miami U courted Greg before he chose to join Urban Myer at OSU.  Over 400 people were deposed in the Penn St/Sandusky investigation and Greg was not one of them. Greg's name surfaced once from a "he said-he said-he said" testimonial.  Two of the people outright denied the story and  the third person has never mentioned it again, to my knowledge.  Rutgers retained Greg, Michigan offered him a job, Tampa Bay hired him, as did Ohio State, all in light of the same information. So does Vols nation know something the rest of the world does not? Is UT more virtuous?  The "moral indignation" of Vols nation at Greg Schiano being hired rings hollow to me.  Schiano is more than capable and I believe the future will show that UT made a mistake letting him go. Regardless, I think we can all agree that the way UT athletics conducts business has not served the school or its fans well. 

Kevin O'Brien

*Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated 11/28/17


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