Tennessee football fans were furious when the program was primed to land Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its next head coach.
They were so furious they emailed then-Tennessee athletic director John Currie with suggestions as to who should take Butch Jones’ job. And the Big 12’s brightest apparently weren’t at the top of the list.
The Athletic’s Max Olson sifted through 2,200 pages of messages sent to Currie. He then broke down who had the most support from Tennessee fans.
Former Vols coach Lane Kiffin, who is currently at Florida Atlantic, was at the top of the list, according to The Athletic. TCU coach Gary Patterson and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy received three and two e-mail mentions.
Some coaches resonated more than Mike Gundy
Gundy appeared to be a legitimate candidate to take over for Jones. While Gundy said his communication with Tennessee was blown out of proportion, the emails, texts and phone records show a timeline of Tennessee’s extended courtship of the Cowboys head coach.
Patterson interviewed for the Tennessee job almost a decade ago. Since then, he has developed the Horned Frogs into a national power. Still burning in his memory is the recollection that Tennessee officials didn’t think he could “handle the big stage.”
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and former Baylor coach Art Briles were others mentioned in the story.
Tennessee fans were familiar with Lane Kiffin
The lack of support for any Big 12 coaches is not an indictment on the league. Tennessee fans are more familiar with Kiffin, who was the Vols’ head coach in 2009. The majority of fan favorites either had Tennessee roots or were recently fired from high-profile positions.
Currie at times reportedly describes Tennessee’s fans as “wacko.” That description fits. Especially considering that Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, an abject failure during his brief tenure at Baylor, received more recommendations than Stoops, Gundy or Patterson.
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