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tl;dr: "An uphill climb awaits on Rocky Top." Tennessee is coming off a historically bad 3-7 season after which the head coach was fired with cause (alleged 30-50 NCAA violations pending, though likely not this many); The as of yet unknown consequences of the aforementioned violations (Scholarship limitations, post-season bans [BECAUSE VOLS WERE GOING BOWLING?], etc.); talented roster gutted and bleeding via transfer portal (outbound talent > inbound talent); staff turnover (shame to lose Jay Graham and a recruiter like Tee Martin for example, keeping Kevin Steele as DC/linebacker coach would've been smart although probably not mutually agreeable); Arguably, THE lowest point in program history. Now throw in some of, if not, THE most fanatical, rabid, and, permit me to say, irrational fanbase in the country. Who insist they are still contenders despite having "a few off years". Who have national championship/SEC champion/SEC east expectations and will condemn anyone who can't get it done in 2-3 years. Who were condemning coaches to failure before they even received a job offer. What established coach was going to want to come to Tennessee to risk their reputation/record on a program in Tennessee's state? The answer to that riddle is NONE. I'm thinking Tennessee heard a lot of "No" in their search. In the end they got who would check a lot of boxes and would agree to come for the duration - despite lacking the "razzle dazzle hire" factor. I don't believe Josh Heupel is, nor is he meant to be, THE guy. He is the wet blanket to this fire. He is the guy who comes in and works with what he has and what he can get, navigate the NCAA investigation repercussions, and to keep the ship above water. AD Danny White is contractually entitled to two football coach hires. Hopefully Josh Heupel can build the springboard, and hire #2 will get to enjoy the launch. Heupel contracted through what, 2025? with automatic extensions under certain circumstances regarding NCAA violations. 2026? 2027? 2028? Look out, Vols are back baby!
Good! Chaney and Weinke should've been gone already - after this historically awful season. As much as it hurt to lose coaches like Graham and recruiters like Tee, I think cleaning house might be the way to go. Let Danny White and coach Heupel make their decisions and run their team; all we can do is get behind them. For better or worse, this is our path forward. Go Vols!