The Tennessee Vols moved on from Phillip Fulmer 12 years ago and the program is still trying to recover from the decision.
Tennessee’s had six losing seasons since moving on from Fulmer (seven if you count the current 2020 season).
Jeremy Pruitt is the fourth coach since Fulmer and based on the evidence so far, he’s not the guy that’s going to return the Vols to relevance.
It appears that Tennessee is on the verge of yet another coaching search.
And I think we all know what that means. We’ll hear rumors of Hugh Freeze, Urban Meyer, and Bob Stoops. There will be madness and chaos. And then the Vols probably won’t land any of those names.
Same story as always, right?
But what if it didn’t have to be this way?
Maybe it’s time for UT fans to set their sights elsewhere.
There’s an option that won’t be wildly popular, but it’s likely the Vols’ best chance for future success.
Tennessee needs to go to Durham and beg David Cutcliffe to come back to Knoxville.
Look, I get that Cutcliffe isn’t the sexy name. And he’s 66 years old.
But right now, the Vols need someone that’s going to get the program on solid footing. Cutcliffe is someone who could do that over the next five to six years, before handing the program off to a younger head coach (there’s no need to figure out right now who that would be…don’t put the cart before the horse).
Is Cutcliffe someone who’s going to lead the Vols to a national championship?
Probably not. But Tennessee can’t even put together consecutive winning seasons at the moment. They’re struggling to beat the bottom feeders in the SEC. College Football Playoff appearances shouldn’t even be a thought for fans. Becoming somewhat relevant — a program that is routinely in the top 25 — is all that matters right now
I think Cutcliffe could at least get the Vols to that point.
And really, the timing for Cutcliffe to Tennessee couldn’t be better.
That’s because Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton Manning, is poised to be the top quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class.
For now, the battle for Manning appears to be between Ole Miss (where most of the Mannings went to college, including his father, Cooper) and LSU (which is close to Manning’s hometown of New Orleans).
But if Cutcliffe (Peyton’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Eli’s coach at Ole Miss) lands at UT, it would instantly make the Volunteers a heavy favorite to land Arch.
The relationship between the Mannings and Cutcliffe is special. It’s so strong, in fact, that Peyton and Eli regularly spent a portion of their NFL offseasons in Durham training with Cutcliffe at Duke.
Cutcliffe is part of what made Tennessee successful in the 90s and mid-2000s. And we know how important Peyton has been to Knoxville.
What better what to make the Vols relevant again than by bringing back Cutcliffe and a Manning?
It may not be the popular choice, but Cutcliffe to Tennessee could be just what the Vols need to become contenders again.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports