KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee is nearing a deal that would make Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano its next football coach, multiple media outlets reported Sunday.
USA Today Sports first reported Sunday afternoon that Tennessee was working to finalize a deal with Schiano.
Tennessee has not announced a hiring yet, and athletics department representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday. The Volunteers' season ended Saturday with a 42-24 loss to in-state rival Vanderbilt. The defeat ended UT's year at 4-8, the first eight-loss season in program history.
First-year Tennessee athletic director John Currie fired fifth-year coach Butch Jones on Nov. 12 with two games still remaining on the scheduled and launched a nationwide search for Jones' replacement.
The 51-year-old Schiano coached Rutgers from 2001 to 2011. Rutgers had not been to a bowl game since 1978 when Schiano took the job. He directed the Scarlet Knights to six bowl games in his final seven years there.
Schiano left Rutgers to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He went 11-21 in his two seasons there and was fired after the 2013 season.
He returned to coaching in December of 2015 when Ohio State coach Urban Meyer hired him as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator.
Then, in 2016, Schiano was implicated as a possible witness in the Penn State child rape scandal.
Testimony unsealed from former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary in a deposition indicated that another former Penn State assistant told McQueary that Schiano had seen former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky "doing something to a boy in the shower."
Schiano told ESPN "I never saw any abuse nor had reason to suspect any abuse during my time at Penn State."
Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990 to 1995, first as a graduate assistant and then as defensive backs coach. From there, he worked for the Chicago Bears and as the defensive coordinator for the University of Miami before accepting the head coaching job at Rutgers.
The New Jersey native has never coached in the Southeastern Conference before.
Currie reportedly targeted Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen before turning his attention to Schiano. However, Mullen has been reported Sunday to be the top target of Florida, which is also looking for a new coach.