New Tennessee Vols athletic director Danny White has done a tremendous job of preventing information about UT’s coaching search from leaking out to the public.
We don’t know a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes with White right now. But thanks to various reports and sources, we’ve been able to piece together a few things, giving us a decent idea of where the search currently stands.
While we aren’t sure who exactly is in play for the job, we know a few names that appear to be out of the running.
Let’s run through those names real quick.
Note: Coaching searches are wild and things can change at a moment’s notice. For that reason, we can’t say these names are “100 percent” out….more like 99 percent out.
Matt Campbell — Iowa State head coach
Matt Campbell is someone that I think would be an absolute home run hire for Tennessee. He’s done an amazing job at Iowa State (managing to beat Oklahoma and Texas), but it doesn’t appear that he’s going to be an option for the Vols moving forward.
Iowa State posted a “state of the union” video on Monday where the president of the university proclaimed that Campbell had “decided to remain a Cyclone”. A restructured contract and raises for Campbell’s coaching staff were also mentioned.
Iowa State posted this video today, so I’m guessing Matt Campbell is officially off the board pic.twitter.com/A9eP4hs5s5
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) January 25, 2021
PJ Fleck — Minnesota head coach
Football Scoop reported over the weekend that PJ Fleck was vetted by the search firm that Tennessee is using. There were some additional discussions with the Vols, but Fleck is reportedly “not interested” in the job.
From The Star Tribune:
No updates surfaced Monday, but my sources indicate that Fleck is not interested in that job. Fleck’s agent Bryan Harlan declined to mention any school specifically but said in a phone conversation that he has received inquiries from multiple schools regarding Fleck the past few seasons.
Huge Freeze — Ole Miss head coach
Hugh Freeze has been the dream candidate for a lot of folks during this search. But it’s not happening. And that’s not just speculation. Freeze’s issues with the NCAA seemingly eliminated him from Tennessee’s radar. That’s not the only reason this isn’t happening, either. While Freeze loves Tennessee, a source tells me that the interest on his side right now isn’t as strong as some were led to believe. That’s likely because of the looming NCAA sanctions at UT.
James Franklin — Penn State head coach
There was definitely some smoke to the James Franklin rumors on Monday. It was a name that kept popping up in various conversations. How far did discussions get? I’m not sure. White is keeping this search locked down to the point that information just isn’t getting out. Anyway, this deal reportedly isn’t going to happen. Could talks pick back up? Possibly, but I doubt it. I think the NCAA sanctions were the hurdle that couldn’t be crossed here.
Bill O’Brien — Former Houston Texans head coach
Early in the search, this was my guess to be Tennessee’s next head coach. But this option also appears to be off the board. O’Brien was officially announced as the new offensive coordinator at Alabama recently.
Doug Marrone — Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach
Nick Saban is going to have a loaded coaching staff at Alabama in 2021. Marrone, a former Tennessee assistant, was announced on Monday as the Crimson Tide’s new offensive line coach. Marrone wasn’t really on the radar once Phillip Fulmer was out of the picture, but he was still someone that had to be considered as an option.
Featured image via USA TODAY