There are a few very viable candidates for the head football coaching vacancy at the University of Tennessee.....that is, if the outspoken group of Tennessee fans don't run him off. According to reports, Minnesota's P.J. Fleck says he's no longer interested, but ESPN's Chris Low said yesterday that SMU's Sonny Dykes and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Franklin are still very much in the mix. Lowe also said that former Vanderbilt head coach and current Penn State head coach James Franklin would be a "home run" hire and I tend to agree.
That group of outspoken Big Orange nutcases are likely the ones that pushed for Jon Gruden for years as Tennessee sought to right the ship and they're also the same ones that have fallen in love with Lane Kiffen again as they have been pushing for him to get the job.
Kiffen has had a blast stirring the pot so to speak but in no way is he a realistic candidate.
Of the three gentlemen mentioned by Chris Low, Elliott and Dykes are the most probable, while to get James Franklin it will take a dump truck full of cash. Keep in mind, for the next several years, the Tennessee program will be trying to dig out from under NCAA sanctions and I personally believe Franklin doesn't want to fight that battle.
Tennessee fans need to realize that this is no longer a top ten national program. The Vols may be in the top ten in all-time wins, but they are in no way a top ten program. Right now, they may not even be a top fifty program. While Tennessee is setting a record for players entering the NCAA transfer portal, new athletic director Danny White is hard at work searching for just the right fit for his football program. But under the circumstances, that right fit may not be available.
I really like Clemson's Tony Elliott for the job, even though he has never been a head coach. He has a brilliant offensive mind and his stats at Clemson are unbelievable. Sonny Dykes has had some success as a head coach and that success is a couple of 10-win seasons at SMU. Either one of these guys would do a good job, but neither would be considered to be a "home run."
Tennessee fans have a reputation for being vocal and being too involved in coaching searches. We only have to go back a little more than three years to find evidence of that. Remember when Greg Schiano was offered the job by John Currie and the Big Orange nation exploded in anger? Well that explosion wound up getting Currie fired and made Tennessee the laughing stock of college football.
Vol fans, is this what you want? - to be a laughing stock again in college football? If you don't, then shut up and let Danny White do his job. He is not listening to you.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com