Wiedmer: How close is Currie to hitting bottom of coaching barrel?

Wiedmer: How close is Currie to hitting bottom of coaching barrel?

November 30th, 2017 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

University of Tennessee Athletic Director, John Currie speaks during a press conference announcing the firing of head football coach, Butch Jones, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Wade Payne/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Out of the mouth of a (former) porn star.

Outrageous though it may sound, that just might be the source of the most insightful and funny criticism yet regarding clueless University of Tennessee athletic director John Currie's unfathomably embarrassing search for the school's next football coach.

Tweeted Mia Khalifa — who reportedly now bares her soul as the DC Sports Girl — to her 2.03 million Twitter followers Wednesday morning: "Tennessee's current Head Coach prospects are the human equivalence of the discount DVD bin at Walmart."

Whether fair or not, when you're being somewhat accurately laid bare by a 24-year-old, one-time porn star, hasn't your coaching search sunk about as low as it can go?

And, no, I'd never heard of Mia Khalifa until someone took a picture of her tweet and emailed it to me Wednesday afternoon. I swear.

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Nor do I think in the grand scheme of coaching hires that Currie has reached the Walmart discount bin just yet. But he could be close. He's certainly closer to that than landing a Mercedes-Benz or BMW as the next coach of the Volunteers.

Let us recount the missteps.

First, theoretically, there was Jon Gruden, even if there probably never was any realistic hope of landing Gruden, regardless of all those Grumors floating around like Halloween ghosts through much of October.

Then came Currie's Black Sunday this past weekend with the Greg Schia-NO disaster, which may be the long-term career killer for Currie. Not only because of his initial decision to hire the current Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, but also for the rabbit ears he swiftly displayed by being driven to withdraw the offer due to social media backlash.

True leaders shouldn't buckle to such outside noise unless pressured by superiors. Yet that also brings up a different issue. Did Currie pull the plug on his own, just as he signed the memorandum of understanding on his own, without university chancellor Beverly Davenport's signature? And if he made that hire without her knowledge or consent, what does that say about Currie and Davenport's skills regarding such a crucial hire? The new coach will likely be the state's highest paid employee.

Nevertheless, Currie's Calamity was just getting started. By Monday he was done with Schiano and off to soon be rejected by Duke coach and former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. Then came Tuesday's embarrassment with Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, who likely played the Vols in order to get more money from his alma mater.

Not to worry, though. Wednesday may have been worse. Purdue's Jeff Brohm had seemingly already rejected Currie and N.C. State's Dave Doeren hadn't yet taken the job as of Wednesday evening. If Currie can't convince Doeren to come aboard, perhaps it's time to find someone else to do Currie's job.

Though Doeren's five-year Atlantic Coast Conference record with the Wolfpack (15-25) is basically the same as recently fired Vols coach Butch Jones' 14-24 Southeastern Conference record, he has gradually revived the Pack, going from 0-8 his first ACC season to 6-2 this time around.

Of course, yesterday's rejections could be today's acceptances if Tennessee is willing to cough up anywhere close to the same $7 million per year the school was reportedly offering Gundy. That figure puts you easily inside the top 10 nationally at a school that hasn't finished a season in the top 10 of any final poll from The Associated Press since 2003.

There's also no proof Brohm has categorically shut the door on coming to Knoxville. He just hasn't said yes yet.

That said, as good as Brohm would be — and he'd probably have the Vols to nine regular-season wins by year three — only two remaining candidates would make people almost instantly forgive and forget Currie's Calamity to date.

Those two? Louisville coach Bobby Petrino and former Vols coach and current Florida Atlantic boss Lane Kiffin, come on down.

Neither is necessarily a bargain in the public relations department. Petrino's a jerk and Kiffin's a brat. But they both not only know what it takes to win in the SEC, they also play pretty darn fun football while doing so.

Heck, Petrino might even get the former porn star Khalifa to ride on the back of his motorcycle into his introductory news conference, then put her in charge of on-campus recruiting. Or maybe Kiffin, now that he's single, could date her.

Regardless, if Currie wants to avoid having more than a former porn star accuse of him of hiring a coach from a Walmart discount bin, he'd be wise to wind up with Brohm, Kiffin or Petrino. Otherwise, he might wind up interviewing for a job with Walmart instead of interviewing potential football coaches for the Vols.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.

Vols head football coach search

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