Vols Coaching Search Reportedly Down to Three, What Each Brings to the Table

Jason Ellis@@JJasonEllisContributor IIIDecember 4, 2012

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans cheers for the Tennessee Volunteers during their game against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Derek Dooley was fired as the Tennessee head coach on November 18 and the Vols have been embroiled in the search for a replacement ever since.

By this point, there have been a lot names that have been thrown around for the position.  The most notable was Jon Gruden, who essentially said thanks but no thanks.

As of this writing, it looks like the position has been narrowed down to three candidates: Mike Gundy, Charlie Strong and Larry Fedora.

Any of the three appears to be a great hire for the university, but what makes them that?  What does each candidate bring to the table?  

Well, we're going to take a look at that right now.


Mike Gundy

Career record: 66-35 (at Oklahoma State)

Of the three candidates, Gundy is the most proven in terms of winning at a high level.  He has also done it in a place where he has to go against Oklahoma and Texas.

In 2010, he finished with an 11-2 record and at 12-1 in 2011.  He capped that off with a win in the Fiesta Bowl and finished third in the final BCS standings.

He has done this with lower-rated recruiting classes, so he's a "do more with less" type of coach.  

That's an excellent record, considering where he is coaching.

He also brings something that is needed in college football: fire.  Anyone remember his "I'm A Man" rant?  That's something that you need in addition to being able to win.

Players will get behind a guy like that.

If the Vols are looking to win right away, then they may not need to look any further than Mike Gundy.


Charlie Strong

Career Record: 24-14 (at Louisville)

As far as head coaching is concerned, Charlie Strong isn't as proven as Gundy is.  He also hasn't been a head coach for as long, either.

His record is still impressive, because winning at Louisville isn't the easiest thing to do.

Strong brings two things to the table that could predict success at Tennessee: a great defensive mind and ties to the south.

Both of these stem from positions he has held in the past, with the most notable of those at South Carolina and Florida, where he was defensive coordinator.

Spending the time there has afforded Strong another skill to be successful at Tennessee: knowledge on how to recruit in the south.  Something you need to know how to do, for sure.

Defense is what it takes to win in the SEC and on a national level.  Strong knows defense and shouldn't be looked past as a great hire.



Larry Fedora

Career record: 42-23 (34-19 at Southern Miss, 8-4 at North Carolina)

Fedora is probably the lesser known of the three candidates, but has done an excellent job at the places he has been by this point.

His best season was in 2011, where he led Southern Mississippi to a 12-2 mark on the season.  To put that in perspective, Southern Miss went 0-11 this season.

His coaching forte has been on the offensive side of the ball, with stops at Florida and Oklahoma State (under Gundy) as offensive coordinator.

He, like Strong, has coached in the southeast and knows how to recruit there.  Besides, if you can win at Southern Miss, there is a great chance you can win elsewhere.

As of the writing of the is article, Jimmy Hyams from Sports Animal 99 in Knoxville reported on Twitter: "Larry Fedora has not interviewed for the UT job nor does he have one scheduled as of 1:55 pm today."  He was citing a source that is close to the situation.

With Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart keeping everything close to the vest, any guess as to the front runner would be pure speculation.

No matter who you are looking at for the next Tennessee head coach, it appears that you can't go wrong in hiring any of the three.


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