The Folks on Rocky Top have been through the wringer over the last ten years with five different Head Coach’s. A once-proud program is on the verge of slipping away to oblivion, and with the latest firing of Jeremy Pruitt, the Volunteers can’t afford to make a bad hire with the next coach because what could come could spell complete disaster for the Volunteers.
Yesterday, in a press conference with Chancellor Donde Plowman and Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer, came the announcement that the Volunteers had fired for cause Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt because of an ongoing NCAA investigation within the Tennessee football program. In that press conference, Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer announced his decision to step down from his position at the University of Tennessee to make room for a new AD and Head Football Coach.
So what’s exactly next for the Volunteers? Nobody knows, but there are a few options for Tennessee as they try to navigate everything from an NCAA investigation to a new coaching search to everything in between.
First and most likely option on the table for the Volunteers:
Keep Kevin Steele on as the permanent Head Coach. Sure, it’s an unpopular choice, but with the impending NCAA troubles brewing for the Volunteers, this option would offer stability to ride out the storm until it’s over. We’ve seen this before with Ole Miss and Matt Luke. Coach Luke took over during a difficult time for the Rebels. His leadership for three seasons is what paved the way for Lane Kiffin to come in and take over.
If Kevin Steele were to do good and manage that incoming storm, then the Volunteers would have their guy going forward. If he’s unable to do that, then Tennessee at that time could go after a much bigger name to fulfill the duties as Head Coach of the Volunteers.
The second option for the Volunteers:
Go out and try to hire a proven coach in Gus Malzahn and let him guide the ship during the upcoming storm. Everybody who follows College Football knows that Malzahn can coach. It might not be the most popular hire for the Volunteer faithful, but with the impending doom of the NCAA around the corner, this program needs stability. Gus Malzahn would bring both stability and an exciting brand of football to Rocky Top.
Lastly, Tenneessee could go out and try to get a big name coach, but during an ongoing NCAA investigation, this seems unlikely. Let’s be honest here, the Volunteer football program will need a complete reboot to return to glory. It’s unlikely that a big name College Football will want to take this job and risk getting caught up in an NCAA investigation that could ruin their career in the long run.
Tennessee is a tough spot right now, but this next hire could forever determine the future of the program for the Volunteer faithful. Looking at this situation from afar, Tennessee has the pieces in place to be special again but, it’s going to take time. The folks on Rocky Top need to be patient as better times are ahead. Get through the NCAA investigation first, then rebuild the program second.