Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops deny UT coaching interest

Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops deny UT coaching interest

November 27th, 2012 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Bob Stoops

Bob Stoops

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- Another Monday brought two more college football coaches issuing public denials of interest in any openings, including Tennessee's.

At their weekly Monday news conferences, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who both have been linked to the Volunteers' coaching vacancy by the Times Free Press and other media outlets, said they were happy with their current positions and focusing on games their teams have this Saturday.

"How many guys get a job that's out there on those rumor mills?" Fisher said when asked about his name being mentioned with the SEC openings. "It's always the guys you never hear about, that are never mentioned, that take jobs.

"I'm very happy right here. I'm content to be here. It's where I want to be. We're building something special. We've got great players. We've got great players to come to be here. It's a great place to live. My family's set in this community.

"I plan on being here a long time."

Fisher's 13th-ranked Seminoles (10-2) play Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game Saturday.

To a follow-up question Monday, he said his agent had not had any contact with any other schools.

"I won't even discuss those things at this point," he continued. "I'm committed to this football team and these guys. That's a total distraction."

After stints in the SEC with Auburn as quarterbacks coach (1993-98) and LSU as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2000-06), the 47-year-old Fisher moved to Tallahassee as offensive coordinator after the 2006 season, when Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart was Florida State's athletic director.

Fisher's 2012 salary is $2.75 million, but the thought is that he could be enticed by a return to the SEC. FSU broke ground last week on an indoor practice facility that's estimated to cost nearly $15 million. In late October, the university's board of trustees approved the lot for and construction of a new dorm specifically for freshman football players.

Though he's in his 14th season with the Sooners and making $4.55 million this year, Stoops has had his name mentioned in connection with the Vols' job. Before leading Oklahoma to the 2000 national title and eight appearances in BCS bowls, he was the defensive coordinator at Florida for three seasons (1996-98).

Rick Hart, Dave's son and former UT-Chattanooga athletic director who's now at SMU, worked in various capacities in Oklahoma's athletic department for seven years (1999-2006).

After edging in-state rival Oklahoma State in overtime last Saturday, the 11th-ranked Sooners close out the season at TCU, where a win coupled with a Kansas State loss to Texas would give them the outright Big 12 title.

"Me? I didn't know that," Stoops said when told he had made the rounds in newspapers and on radio stations in Knoxville. "I like the job I have. No, I love the job I have and the people I work for. I'll try and keep it another year."

Elsewhere, the chatter continues to vary widely on former NFL coach and ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden, the favored choice of most Tennessee fans. According to one source last week, Gruden was not going to become the Vols coach, but another source suggested to the Times Free Press on Monday that Tennessee's pursuit of Gruden had not ended.

Gruden could have his choice of potential NFL openings, and he also could remain in the ESPN booth, where he's paid handsomely and avoids the high-stress life of a coach.

Among the other coaches on the Times Free Press's initial list of possible candidates, Miami's Al Golden is the only one who doesn't have a regular-season game remaining.

Though Dave Hart did not put a timetable on the hiring at his news conference eight days ago, he suggested December as a prime time for a choice and pointed to the annual National Football Foundation awards dinner slated for Dec. 4 in New York City.

"I think in the past, a lot of hires of this nature occur sometime in the month of December," Hart said. "Very candidly, a lot of those coaches will be in New York City. Some of them will continue to play deep into the postseason."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.