Why is it so hard for Tennessee to find a superstar head coach? Here’s part of the reason why, along with 5 candidate ideas.
College Football Daily Cavalcade: Tennessee head coaching search
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
Over the last four years, Kentucky has won ten more games than my should-be-amazing SEC East football program.
You used to be beautiful, Tennessee.
Tennessee should be a superpower.
It has the fan base, the facilities, and the will to do whatever it takes to become a yearly player in the College Football Playoff chase. That’s a good thing.
It also has the high expectations of recent success – even if it’s a few decades ago. That’s a bad thing.
No one cares about what happened eight minutes ago, much less back in 1998, but Tennessee is one of the handful of programs to win a national title in the BCS/College Football Playoff era.
Really, you can do this. Name the schools with a national championship over the last 23 years.
Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Florida, Texas, USC, Miami …
It’s one of those programs that should be amazing, but just can’t quite get that dog to hunt.
It doesn’t have a problem recruiting.
It was eighth in the 2020 Rivals recruiting rankings. It was 13th in 2019, 20th in 2018 – there was a coaching issue then – 15th in 2017, 15th, in 2016, and 5th in 2015 and 2014. No, the recruiting isn’t at Alabama’s level, but it’s close enough to the pin.
It doesn’t have a problem with money, attendance, or … anything.
It should be an A-list job with A-list candidates lining up to take it, but it’s just not, and why?
Because of everything just listed.
Tennessee is supposed to win SEC and national championships, but so is Alabama. So is Florida. So are Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M – that’s life in the SEC.
No, Tennessee isn’t in the West, but Alabama is its annual rivalry game from the other division, and that’s sort of a problem having lost 12 in a row in the series and 13 of the last 14.
The Vols have lost four in a row against Florida and 15 of the last 16, and they’ve dropped four in a row to Georgia and nine of the last 11.
To put this into perspective, since 2013, Tennessee owns one more win over Georgia and Florida than Vanderbilt has.
So all Tennessee needs to do is 1) find a coach who can recruit in the top ten every year, 2) beat Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and 3) do it all with the expectations of a base that knows and feels this is a powder keg program ready to blow up. Oh yeah, and 4) at least get to the SEC Championship on a regular basis, even if that hasn’t happened since 2007 and the last conference title was in …
If that wasn’t enough, there’s that little concern about possible NCAA sanctions coming.
Two words: Boo. Hoo.
Sanctions, schmanctions. Bending recruiting rules in the SEC? Really? I have to explain how we pay the bills around here?
Start winning again, Tennessee.
Tennessee is going to require a certain type of coach who wants all of those challenges. It’s going to require a superstar name or a top prospect who can handle all of the expectations, all of the pressure, and all of the possibilities.
Any coach worth his salt wants this gig, but Tennessee has a really, really, really hard time finding that guy.
So with that in mind, here are my five suggestions ranging from the stupid-dreamy to the realistically obvious – and none of them are interim head man Kevin Steele. And no, outside of one guy who’ll probably get the job, I’m not interested in simply recycling coaches who might have had an SEC job at some point.