I have been doing my research in the 48 hours since Jeremy Pruitt's dismissal as the head football coach at the University of Tennessee. I have done so much research, in fact, that I am already prepared to make my official endorsement of a candidate who was not even on my initial hot board.
And sure, I would still be thrilled if Tennessee was able to land Hugh Freeze or Lane Kiffin, but those guys just aren't very realistic given the situation UT finds itself in with the NCAA. Tennessee needs somebody who it knows will take the job, truly cares about the University and will be able to recruit at a high level — hopefully without cheating this time. And I think all of those factors lead us to one man: Jerod Mayo.
I was talking with some friends last night and we were going through realistic candidates who fit those criteria. Sure, I guess you could say Jamey Chadwell, who grew up in East Tennessee, would fall into those three categories — although he comes with some NCAA baggage of his own. And I'd be pretty happy to have him, too. But I have watched enough shitty Tennessee football coached by supposedly up-and-coming mercenaries to last a lifetime. I want one of our guys.
Here's a guy in Mayo who has spent all 10 years of his professional career — both as a player and coach — in the most successful organization in professional sports this century learning under the greatest professional football coach of all-time. He was a first round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2008 and can point to a time when the Volunteers were competing for championships and expected to win football games. He would bring an energy and excitement that is needed more desperately than ever.
And as to his ability to lead a football program, here's what Mayo's former teammate Duron Harmon had to say about him:
I don't care that he doesn't have any head coaching experience. Derek Dooley and Butch Jones had head coaching experience and that didn't mean a damn thing. Mayo has been learning under Bill Belichick for a decade and I'll take that over having been a head coach at some Group of Five school 11 times out of 10.
The Philadelphia Eagles seemed to think enough of Mayo to interview him for their head coaching position, so why would his alma mater not do the same? I honestly believe Mayo would go into recruits' living rooms and sell them on a great culture and re-establish the winning tradition he was used to when he was in Knoxville. We're getting to a point now where the best Tennessee teams current recruits have ever seen were the 2015 and 2016 teams that each went 9-4. Mayo can put on the tape and show those kids what Tennessee football is supposed to look like.
I've become even more all in on the Mayo Train as I've written this. I truly believe this guy is the real deal. Tennessee's administration has made it very clear in the last couple days that it wants someone who is going to do things the right way. So let's go get our former First Team All-SEC and Super Bowl champion linebacker who has studied inside one of the best organizations in the history of professional sports and get to work.