The Tennessee Volunteers found out today that Jon Gruden wasn't interested in being their head football coach.
Jon Gruden is out as UT candidate. Informed UT recently after phone talks last week. UT never offered contract, source said.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) November 30, 2012
After weeks of rabid speculation, almost entirely on the part of radio show callers with nameless sources, the Vols can move on to other candidates. Who are they?
Before you question the meaning of life, Grudenites, relieve your sorrow with what I said a few days ago. Gruden is an exciting personality but his hiring wouldn't have guaranteed anything.
And besides, let's face it: Jon Gruden showed as much interest in Tennessee as Bill Belichick.
But there remain numerous candidates that have no interest in leaving college for the NFL and also have been on a five-year coaching hiatus like Gruden.
On the rare occasion that I hear or read something that I believe carries weight, I've narrowed the list down to the following.
Al Golden, Miami
With a record that isn't likely to excite fans any time soon, Golden's name continues to pop up. Braden Gall is very high on him as Tennessee's coach and has been for some time.
While at Miami, Golden has earned a record of 13-11 in two years. He would have had a chance for 15-11 from consecutive bowl trips if not for the infamous scandal involving Nevin Shapiro, causing bowl bans.
Indeed, before he coached his first game with the Hurricanes, his starting quarterback Jacory Harris was ruled ineligible. Even with the bowl bans and NCAA sanctions, Golden reeled in the ninth-ranked recruiting class last year according to Rivals.
Before Miami, Golden tallied a record of 27-34 in four years at Temple. Before you throw your hands up in frustration over why Tennessee would be interested in such an apparent loser, you should know that before Golden arrived at Temple, the Owls had previously taken 13 years to win 27 games.
He is highly-respected among college coaches and has yet to be placed in a situation with a strong, healthy program.
Charlie Strong, Louisville
For me, the candidate conversation starts and end with Charlie Strong, who last night all but guaranteed his school's second-ever BCS Bowl berth.
In 30 years of coaching, Strong has gained a reputation for passion, dedication and discipline. His resume is littered with impressive coaching stops with schools like Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida.
Strong is a defense-first coach, having served as defensive coordinator during Urban Meyer's tenure at Florida.
Before Strong arrived at Louisville, the Cardinals were reeling from a 15-21 three-year run with Steve Kragthorpe. The cupboard was bare, but Strong took them to two consecutive bowls in his first two years and is on the verge of his third with a record of 10-2.
It's tough to poke holes in Strong's candidacy. Perhaps he's not a "big enough name," but it doesn't appear as though such names are interested in the coaching vacancy with the Volunteers.
Luckily for Tennessee, Strong's mentality doesn't need "big name" status. Just hard work.
The Hiring Date
According to Jimmy Hyams, who maintained consistently that Jon Gruden wasn't a serious candidate and was proven right, the hiring is likely to occur between December 6th and 10th.
If Hyams is right again, Vols fan don't have much longer to wait.