Jeremy Pruitt is out. It's once again Coaching Search Time in Tennessee and I have fired up the first Big T Hot Board of the 2021 Vols search. As one should expect, Tennessee waited as long as possible to make this decision and has backed itself into a corner, but this is still a job that a lot of coaches around the country will want.
So here's the first ranking of potential candidates.
The White Whales: Lane Kiffin, Hugh Freeze
If Tennessee got either of these guys, myself and the rest of Vol Nation will be even more insufferable than the rest of the country thinks we usually are. Both of these guys are grand slam hires. Hiring Hugh Freeze would be a bit of a tough sell when you just fired a coach for cause in the midst of an investigation into recruiting violations, but I guess it comes down to how much Tennessee really wants to win.
But Lane Kiffin offers the best of both worlds. He has the genius offensive mind. He's a fantastic recruiter. And he could complete one of the greatest stories in the history of college football if he came back to Knoxville and brought the Vols back to the promised land.
Home Runs: Jamey Chadwell, Gus Malzahn
After watching offensive football under Pruitt for the last three seasons, I want somebody who knows how to score points, and both of these guys fit that bill. Jamey Chadwell is from Caryville, Tennessee and played at East Tennessee State. I'm to the point now that I almost don't even care if Tennessee wins if we can just get a guy that proves he gives a shit. And on top of that, I do think Chadwell could have success in the SEC.
And I would be all in on Gus Malzahn were it not for the fact that UT somehow just let Pruitt hire Kevin Steele last week, who allegedly led a three-year coup to push Malzahn out at Auburn in hopes of getting the job himself.
But if UT was somehow able to get out from under Steele's contract and Malzahn would be interested, I think Tennessee fans would do backflips for the level of success he had at Auburn.
I'm In: Tom Herman
For whatever reason, I haven't seen Herman's name linked to the real UT at all and I don't really understand why. He falls into the same category as Malzahn of guys who had pretty good football teams that just never quite got over the hump at places with lofty expectations. Y'all can sign me up right now for any coach that can get us to 9-3 football and at least competing for the SEC East.
Meh: Billy Napier
Lousiana's Billy Napier might end up being a fine coach, but it does nothing for me. I've watched nothing but terrible Tennessee football and this guy would have to go out there and prove to me that he can win some ballgames before I get excited. He's done a good job at Lousiana, but the Sun Belt is a far cry from the SEC.
Please God No: Adam Gase
Here's the deal: if Tennessee hires Adam Gase, I will burn all of my Vols gear and hold a National Signing Day ceremony to pick a new college football team. This is so criminally insane that it could only be true at the University of Tennessee. I don't even know what I'd do if this were to happen. Don't let it happen.
So that's where we sit right now. Some other names like Doug Marrone and Lance Leipold are being thrown around, but we're only a couple hours into this thing. The Tennessee coaching search is going to throw us into some wild directions over the next couple weeks, but we just have to keep our heads screwed on straight and our eyes on the prize.