Big Orange meltdown: Rumor of deal to hire Greg Schiano as Vols coach sets off internet firestorm

University of Tennessee freshman Morgan Morton waves a Tennessee Vol flag reading "RIP" during a gathering of Tennessee fans reacting to the possibility of hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano for its head coaching vacancy Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

KNOXVILLE - State legislators and Tennessee gubernatorial candidates joined a wild revolt against a candidate for the University of Tennessee's head football coaching position Sunday.

Tennessee athletic director John Currie and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano reportedly came close to reaching an agreement to make Schiano the Volunteers' next football coach. By evening, the deal was off following a wave of criticism led by fans over the potential hire.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell joined the fray in the afternoon when she quoted a report about Schiano's reportedly imminent hiring by posting a message on Twitter that said, "If true, this is the wrong choice for @Vol_Football. We need a coach who is a true leader and who shares our TN values."

The uneasiness surrounding Schiano stemmed from his loose association with the Penn State child rape cover-up scandal that rocked college football when it was revealed in 2011.

State representative Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville shared even stronger remarks on his Twitter page as the day's drama unfolded.

"Our Tennessee standards mean something, and a Greg Schiano hire would be anathema to all that our University and our community stand for," Smith wrote. "I sincerely hope that these rumors are not true, because even serious consideration would be unacceptable."

Contact David Cobb at