KNOXVILLE — Tennessee's turbulent football coaching search barreled onward Thursday with another rejection — though this one seemed to delight Volunteers fans more than it enraged them.
Dave Doeren elected to stay at North Carolina State instead of coming to Tennessee, even though his salary reportedly would have come close to doubling in Knoxville.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported that Doeren is expected to have a new five-year, $15 million deal approved by North Carolina State's board of trustees today.
Doeren made $2.2 million annually before Tennessee came calling with a deal reportedly worth at least $4 million a year for the 45-year-old coach, who owns a 33-30 record in five seasons leading the Wolfpack. North Carolina State is 15-25 in Atlantic Coast Conference games during Doeren's tenure, and many Tennessee fans correlated him Thursday to fired coach Butch Jones, who was 14-24 in conference games during his nearly five seasons in Knoxville.
"If he goes to Tennessee, he's diving headfirst into a burbling cauldron of bile," News and Observer columnist Luke Decock wrote Thursday morning, just hours before Doeren made his decision.
Failing to land Doeren constituted the latest miss by Tennessee since it nearly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on Sunday before backing out amid backlash from fans and some university stakeholders. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy turned down an offer from Tennessee on Tuesday, and talks stalled with Purdue coach Jeff Brohm on Wednesday. Duke coach David Cutcliffe also expressed that he was not interested in the Tennessee job after being approached about the position, according to an ESPN report.
Tennessee's focus turned to former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on Thursday, multiple media outlets reported. The 53-year-old Sumlin was fired last week after the Aggies finished 7-5 and 4-4 in conference play. Sumlin spent six years at Texas A&M, compiling a 51-26 record with a 25-23 mark against Southeastern Conference opponents. Previously, he went 35-17 in four years as the head coach at Houston.
A report from footballscoop.com on Thursday also mentioned Sumlin as a possible replacement for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, should Fisher accept the Texas A&M job that Sumlin was fired from.
Sumlin was linked to the Tennessee job in 2010 after Lane Kiffin left Knoxville after just one season. Tennessee hired Derek Dooley, who was fired after three years. Jones replaced Dooley but was fired in November with two games remaining in his fifth season.
Tennessee owns an overall record of 57-56 in the nine seasons since it fired legendary former coach Phillip Fulmer at the end of the 2008 season. In that nine-year span, the Vols are 23-49 against SEC opponents.
Fulmer's replacement, Kiffin, is in his first year as head coach at Florida Atlantic and has been commenting on the Vols' coaching search via social media the last several days. Kiffin has not been contacted about returning to Tennessee, he told ESPN on Thursday.
Another coach who reportedly has not been contacted is Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who quarterbacked Tennessee to the 1998 national championship. USC is playing in the Pac-12 championship game tonight.
Martin, who multiple media outlets have reported is interested in the Tennessee job, posted a message on Twitter Wednesday night: "Proverbs 3:5-6." It's a Bible passage that reads, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Another coach reportedly interested in the job is Les Miles, who posted a 114-34 record in 12 seasons at LSU before he was fired last season.
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com.