KNOXVILLE — Now what?
If Sunday capped the wildest 24 hours in Tennessee football history, Monday started as a rescue mission.
Vols leaders are picking up the pieces following the public debacle in trying to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.
Now there are serious questions about whether first-year UT athletics director John Currie should be one making the decision on the program’s next head football coach.
Tennessee supporters quickly became unified in making it clear that Currie’s lack of understanding of Schiano’s past was not something that could be taken lightly.
Critics, in turn, pounded Tennessee supporters.
More than ever, Tennessee football needs a Tennessee man to move the program forward. The next head coach needs to have Orange and White connections; the fan base is all but demanding it.
Former Vols head coach Phillip Fulmer is back working with the university and could be an option based on an interim basis.
The 67-year old might not want the option of coaching Tennessee for a year if the right candidate does not come into fruition – and that’s understandable at his stage in his life. But the option of choosing him as an interim head coach or even as an interim athletics director should not be ignored if he is willing for either role.
Another candidate should be Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. The 63-year-old spent time as an assistant at Tennessee from 1982-1998 and 2006-2007. He was the offensive coordinator for the Peyton Manning glory years and Tee Martin’s team that won the national title. He is at the end of his coaching career, but could give up to five years of making the football program better with on-the-field results as well as stabilizing the program.
Then there’s Martin, the current USC offensive coordinator and UT national championship quarterback. Vols fans would support Martin coming back to Tennessee as the next head coach or even being a coach-in-waiting offensive coordinator under the likes of a Cutcliffe.
A fourth option is to bring back Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin could win with the current talent on Tennessee’s roster, and few would have more fun doing it.
Bringing back Kiffin might raise a few eyebrows, given his abrupt departure for USC following the 2009 season. Some Vols fans still feel jilted, but it was almost a decade ago and Kiffin has had a winning record everywhere he’s been.
Kiffin may be a brash tactic, but his results on the field speak for itself.
Now is not the time to hold a grudge. It’s time to do what it’s in the best interest of UT football.
Kiffin is also on the record now that he would crawl back to Tennessee.
These options are what the Tennessee program needs right now following Currie’s tone deaf first attempt.
Tennessee needs a Tennessee guy now, or one with an orange and white past, as the fan base is once again unified.
Fortunately for Currie, or whoever makes the decision, there are several qualified candidates.