Jason Witten Reportedly Linked to Tennessee HC Job After Jeremy Pruitt's Firing

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2021

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Jason Witten (82) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Dan Patrick reported Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show that veteran tight end Jason Witten could be a candidate for the vacant head coaching job at the University of Tennessee. 

Dan Patrick Show @dpshow

Source: Tennessee #Vols got sloppy with recruiting. They were handing recruits cash in McDonald's bags when they visited campus. Also a name to look out for to fill the Head Coaching vacancy: Jason Witten https://t.co/HKDd02rldz

The job became available Monday when Jeremy Pruitt was fired after an internal investigation into potential recruiting violations.

Patrick reported that sources said some within the program would hand prospective recruits McDonald's bags of cash when they arrived on campus.

Before moving on to the NFL, Witten played three seasons at Tennessee from 2000-02. He was especially productive as a junior, registering 39 receptions for 493 yards and five touchdowns.

Witten was a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2003 NFL draft, and he went on to play a remarkable 16 seasons for the organization.

He retired after the 2017 season and spent 2018 as part of the Monday Night Football announce team before returning to the field for Dallas in 2019. Witten then signed with the Las Vegas Raiders and finished the 2020 season with 13 receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

For his career, Witten has made 1,228 receptions for 13,046 yards and 74 touchdowns, resulting in 11 Pro Bowl nods and two First Team All-Pro selections.

Witten is a surefire Hall of Famer and has done it all in the NFL besides win a Super Bowl, but it isn't yet clear what the future holds for him in terms of his playing career.

If the 38-year-old gets an offer to coach at his alma mater, however, it may be too good an opportunity to pass up.

The Vols were once one of the preeminent programs in college football, but that hasn't been the case for many years, especially since Phillip Fulmer retired as head coach following the 2008 season.

Tennessee has played in just one bowl game in the past four seasons and is coming off a 3-7 season, which marked the program's worst winning percentage in a season since going 1-6-2 in 1909.

The Volunteers job would present Witten with a major challenge, especially since he would be a first-time head coach.

Tennessee could also be facing some sanctions, but coveted SEC coaching jobs don't become available too often.