KNOXVILLE — A chronological look at Tennessee's football coaching search:
Tennessee loses 50-17 at Missouri, falling to 4-6 for the season and 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
Fifth-year head coach Butch Jones is fired. Brady Hoke is named the interim head coach. "We will begin an exhaustive search to identify a coach of the highest integrity and vision to propel Tennessee to championships," athletic director John Currie says.
Tennessee junior running back John Kelly says Currie met with the team and shared his contact information, telling the players to share their input on the next coach. What would Kelly like to see? "Just somebody who is going to be honest," he says. "Honesty, that's really the most important thing to me."
The Times Free Press reports that ESPN Monday Night Football analyst and former NFL Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden could be a viable option for the Volunteers opening.
A large photo of Jones remains prominently placed on the back of the Neyland Stadium video board as Tennessee prepares to host LSU. A Tennessee athletics official confirms that UT is "in the process" of taking the image down, though it still remained in place as of Dec. 7.relatedarticlethumb
Tennessee loses 30-10 to LSU as swirling wind and heavy rain knock out some of the lights in part of Neyland Stadium. The loss drops the Vols to 4-7, ensuring they will miss the postseason.
Junior receiver Jauan Jennings is dismissed from the program after he shares on Instagram a profanity-laced tirade directed at the coaching staff.
Tennessee loses 42-24 at home to Vanderbilt. It gives the Vols eight losses in a season for the first time in program history. UCLA hires Chip Kelly as its next head coach after Kelly had been in talks with Florida about the Gators' vacancy.
Florida hones in on hiring Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, who reportedly had been near the top of Currie's list of candidates for the Tennessee job. Currie tries to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. The move is met with unprecedented backlash from fans, state politicians and others associated with the university. Though Currie reportedly signs a memorandum of understanding with Schiano, university chancellor Beverly Davenport never does, according to her spokesperson.
Florida introduces Mullen as the coach of the Gators while Currie attempts to regroup after the Schiano fiasco.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy emerges as the target of Tennessee's coaching search. But Gundy, who is in his 13th year coaching at his alma mater, rejects a Tennessee offer reportedly worth $7 million per year.
Tennessee flirts with hiring first-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm. One report even indicates that Brohm is expected to be the Vols' coach. That fizzles amid speculation that Davenport may have scuttled a deal. A Times Free Press source with direct knowledge of the situation disputes that notion. "Absolutely not true at all," the source says. Meanwhile, Mississippi State hires Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead at the end of a quick, quiet search.
North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren rejects an offer from Tennessee, choosing instead to accept a raise to stay with the Wolfpack. Currie heads to California to meet with Washington State coach Mike Leach. By late evening, reports indicate that talks between Leach and Currie went well.
Currie is "suspended with pay" after a morning meeting in Davenport's office on the UT campus. "Early yesterday afternoon, I asked John Currie to return to Knoxville before going forward with the search," Davenport says in a news conference. "That request had nothing to do with any specific coach. When there are high expectations about a great place, those high expectations come with challenges and challenges require tough decisions. Today required one of those decisions."relatedarticlethumb
Former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer is announced as the new athletic director.
"What we need," he says, "is communication and trust and working together to make it happen, including our wonderful fan base, including as much as we can you guys (the media), that we're all on the same page in going forward, not looking back on the past nine years."
Fulmer is in New York attending the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner. He hones in Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as his top three candidates.
A source close to the situation says Pruitt's initial interview with Fulmer went well. "He knocked it out of the park," the source says.
Things are mostly quiet until just before 10 p.m. when reports surface that Pruitt and Tennessee are close to finalizing a deal.
Tennessee announces Pruitt as its head football coach.
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com.
This story was updated Dec. 7 at 10 p.m.