10 Programs That Might Lose Their Head Coach to Tennessee This Offseason
With each crushing defeat the Tennessee Volunteers endure the seat gets hotter and hotter under Derek Dooley. The young head coach hasn't had his fair share of success while at Tennessee, and with five straight conference losses to open the season, it's hard to imagine a future in Tennessee that includes him.
Clearly the Vols need a fresh new start, and there will be plenty of candidates chomping at the bit for a shot to coach at Tennessee.
Now, Tennessee isn't one of the most marquee job opportunities in the country, but it is a prestigious program in the SEC, so if other programs are smart, they'll cling tight to their head coaches this offseason.
Dabo Swinney, Clemson
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Now before you guys lose your mind, know that I see this as a long shot, so just hear me out and let me know what you think.
Dabo Swinney played football at Alabama and began coaching at Alabama, so he does have SEC ties. Maybe a chance to make an impact in the most popular conference in the country could lure Swinney from his comfortable job at Clemson.
This really comes down to if you think a Tennessee job is a step up from his job at Clemson. If he could win at Tennessee, it would be, but at this point that's a tall order.
Charlie Strong, Louisville
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Thanks to a fantastic job at Louisville, head coach Charlie Strong could be one of the hottest names on the market this offseason. Strong was Urban Meyer's defensive coordinator at Florida and is well respected for his defensive schemes and recruiting abilities.
The former defensive coordinator has his Louisville team ranked in the Top 25 but may not be there for too long. A job opening at Tennessee would definitely interest Strong, who, at age 52, is probably looking to advance his career.
Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State
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Maybe the way to defeat defensive juggernauts in the SEC like LSU, Alabama and Florida is too bring more offense? One way to do that is to hire offensive mastermind Gus Malzahn, who is widely respected for his offensive schemes.
The former offensive coordinator at Auburn just began his head coaching career at Arkansas State, but if he was presented with the opportunity to be a head coach in the SEC, he would most certainly jump on it.
That's right, Tyler Bray and Gus Malzahn together is a possibility.
Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State
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This isn't a very overwhelming hire, but it is a safe one.
Now I know things haven't gone absolutely perfect at MTSU under Rick Stockstill, but the guy has done a solid job overall.
A few years back, Stockstill's team finished with an impressive 10 wins, and he has certainly raised the competitiveness of that program. He also knows the area very well and understands how to recruit in the Southeast.
Keep in mind that Dooley had a similar track record a few years back before being hired by Tennessee.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
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Yes, I am aware that Vanderbilt is a disappointing 3-4 so far this season, but you have to praise the job James Franklin has done there. He's taken a terrible program known for nothing but losing and turned the Commodores into a competitive program.
His Vanderbilt squad played South Carolina extremely tough to begin the year, and he has proved he has the ability to be a head coach in this conference. Franklin knows the area very well, which can't be overlooked, and has done a solid job on the recruiting trail while at Vanderbilt.
Dan Mullen, Mississppi State
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Dan Mullen has his Mississippi State team off to an undefeated record thus far this season and deserves a great deal of the credit. Mullen has been steadily building his program since his hiring a few years back, and it is clear that he has quite a future as a head coach.
A head coaching job at Tennessee would certainly attract Mullen. Imagine what a coach like Mullen could do with the recruiting possibilities at Tennessee. He may be happy with his job at MSU, but at the least he would strongly consider an offer from Tennessee.
David Cutcliffe, Duke
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Duke hasn't been to a bowl game since 1995. This season, at 6-2, David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils will play in a bowl game. That accomplishment in itself should be enough to earn him the job.
All joking aside, Cutcliffe is credited with molding Peyton and Eli Manning and has proved that with time, he can win at places like Duke. No coach was going to take a job at Duke and win right away, but the fact that he was able to turn the program into anything remotely competitive in five years is quite the accomplishment.
He's not well known for his recruiting, but I'm sure at a bigger program like Tennessee, he would do just fine and is a dark-horse candidate for this job.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati
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These past two weeks haven't been the friendliest to Butch Jones or Cincinnati, but he has done a solid job there. Jones has managed to keep Cincinnati relevant and competitive despite the exit of Brian Kelly and is one of the top young coaching talents in the nation.
If Tennessee is willing to take a bit of a chance on Jones, he would most likely accept it considering how high of a step that would be in his career. Cincinnati is a nice program, but Tennessee is a marquee job that I doubt Jones would decline without at least strongly considering it.
Al Golden, Miami
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Before inheriting a complete mess in Miami, Al Golden did an excellent job at Temple. Even with all the hoopla going on in Miami, he has still manged to field a competitive team and has proved that he can lead a winning program.
With a bailing AD and a lack of support from boosters, things at Miami are just not very good. You have to think that if a prestigious program like Tennessee were to try to persuade Golden to join it, he would at least listen.
Jon Gruden, ESPN
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That's right, people. Tennessee might poach ESPN's Monday Night Football crew's head coach, and he is the prized possession of this search. Jon Gruden is a Super Bowl champion head coach who has all the right qualities to be a great head honcho in college.
I imagine that Gruden would be quite the recruiter with his personality and fiery attitude, and we already know the guy can coach. He would perform well in the SEC where it's all about hard-nosed defense and reliable offenses.
Kind of like his Super Bowl championship team.