Tennessee Vols still searching for a head football coach

UT talks with Jeff Brohm stall; source says 'no truth' to report that chancellor halted deal

In this Sept. 23, 2017, file photo, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm yells to an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in West Lafayette, Ind. Indiana and Purdue head into their regular-season finale with the same Bucket list. Indiana plays Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee flirted with hiring a football coach again Wednesday only to have negotiations fall through in the latest saga of the school's quest to find a replacement for the fired Butch Jones.

First-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm came into focus as Tennessee's newest target after Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy rejected the Volunteers on Tuesday. A Wednesday report from Knoxville's Sports Radio WNML afternoon host Jimmy Hyams even claimed Tennessee was expected to announce Brohm as the school's next coach "soon."

By midafternoon, however, talks between Tennessee and Brohm had broken down, though it was not immediately clear why an agreement could not be reached.

A tweet from popular talk radio provocateur Clay Travis implied university chancellor Beverly Davenport was responsible for stalled negotiations between Tennessee and Purdue, but a Tennessee source with direct knowledge of the situation told the Times Free Press that was "absolutely not true at all."

Brohm, 46, works as his own agent. He was on the road recruiting on Purdue's behalf at least part of the day Wednesday.

Travis, who reached a new level of national notoriety during a September interview on CNN when he declared his affinity for "the First Amendment and boobs," posted on Twitter just after 3 p.m. Wednesday a theory about why negotiations between Tennessee and Brohm may have stalled: "I am told that UT AD John Currie made an offer to Jeff Brohm that Brohm accepted. Currie then asked the chancellor to approve the offer - buyout included - and chancellor said no. So Currie went back to Brohm with lesser offer and Brohm said no. So here we are."

The Times Free Press source, who is directly involved with the situation, disputed what Travis posted.

"No truth at all," the source said.

Remaining candidates for the Tennessee job could include SMU's Chad Morris or North Carolina State's Dave Doeren.

Fans and former Tennessee players have clamored for Southern California offensive coordinator and former Vols quarterback Tee Martin, who helped the program win a national championship in the 1998 season, to be interviewed for the position. As of Tuesday night, Martin had not been contacted for the job.

Brohm was also a prominent name in coaching search news last year as he neared the conclusion of his third season as the head coach at Western Kentucky, where he went 30-10 with two Conference USA championships. Purdue hired Brohm, and he led the Boilermakers to a 6-6 record this season after they had gone 9-39 in the four seasons prior to his arrival.

Brohm was a quarterback at the University of Louisville and played professionally from 1994 to 2001 before entering coaching. After Brohm spent a season as the head coach of an indoor football team in Louisville, University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino hired him as the Cardinals' quarterbacks coach.

Brohm spent six years on the staff, working his way up to offensive coordinator before stops at Florida Atlantic, Illinois and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In 2013, he reunited with Petrino at Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers' offensive coordinator. When Petrino returned to Louisville as the head coach, Brohm was named Western Kentucky's head coach. He went 30-10 in his three seasons before moving on to Purdue.

Brohm's offensive pedigree is perhaps best illustrated in the 2016 transformation of Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White, who threw for 4,363 yards with 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a .673 completion percentage that season. It was White's first year with the Hilltoppers after he transferred from South Florida.

With the Bulls, White had been a two-year starter with 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions while completing roughly 52 percent of his passes.

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.

Vols head football coach search