KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – With the news of Butch Jones’ firing at Tennessee, the focus now turns to the coaching search for what will be the Vols’ fifth head coach in 10 years.
Here’s the short list:
Jon Gruden – The former Super Bowl-winning NFL head coach and current Monday Night Football commentator is at the top of most Vols fans’ lists. But will Gruden give up the big ESPN paycheck and cushy lifestyle for the grind of college football? Gruden is also a huge betting favorite in Las Vegas.
Dan Mullen – Mullen is the current head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and has lead the Bulldogs to a 68-45 overall record (32-38 SEC). His Bulldogs played Alabama close Saturday night, losing in the final minute of the game. Mullen is the most successful coach in the program’s history.
Mike Norvell – Norvell is in his second year as a college head coach, leading the Memphis Tigers to a 16-6 record, including an 8-1 start this year. Norvell was previously an offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Scott Frost – Frost has UCF out to a hot start this season, posting a 9-0 record so far this year. Frost was previously the offensive coordinator at Oregon. Many see Frost headed to Florida, though.
Matt Campbell – Campbell is 6-4 at Iowa State this week, but those six wins include victories over #3 Oklahoma and Number 4 TCU. Campbell is 44-28 as the head coach at Iowa State and Toledo.
Chip Kelly – Chip Kelly, like Gruden is working broadcasting right now. Before he donned a suit and tie, Kelly won three PAC-12 championships with Oregon, as well as a NFC East division title with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bobby Petrino – Despite an embarrassing departure from Arkansas in 2011, Petrino is still a top-tier head coach. He’s led the Louisville Cardinals to a 73-26 record in four years as their head coach.
Jeff Brohm – The Purdue head coach is 4-6 this year, but boasts a 34-16 overall record in four years as a head coach – three at Western Kentucky.
Mike MacIntyre – In five seasons with Colorado, MacIntyre is 25-37, although he led the Buffs to a 10-4 record last year and finished the year ranked #17 in the AP Top 25.
Tee Martin – Martin led the Vols to a national title, but the USC offensive coordinator has no head coaching experience.
Kacy Rodgers – Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting that Tennessee has expressed interest in the Jets defensive coordinator. Rodgers played on two SEC championship teams for the Vols in the late 80s and early 90s.
Kevin Steele – Steele played linebacker under Johnny Majors. The Auburn defensive coordinator also has the ninth ranked defense this season.
There’s no slam dunk hire, there rarely is. But hiring a football coach at a football school is a make or break proposition for any AD. Whomever Tennessee settles on, the next step for Currie and the athletics department is a critical one.