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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

 

A wave of backlash from fans, local and state politicians and local business owners disrupted a deal Sunday that would have made Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano Tennessee's next coach.

The blowback caused the deal to unravel, USA TODAY's Dan Wolken reported.

Tennessee spokespeople did not return messages.

Early Sunday afternoon, USA TODAY reported that UT was finalizing a deal with Schiano. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer confirmed during a Big Ten teleconference Sunday afternoon that Schiano had been contacted by UT about the job.

"I know he was contacted. That's all I know at this point," Meyer said.

USA TODAY reported Tennessee athletics director John Currie flew to Columbus, Ohio, to complete the deal, and paperwork was in the process of being finalized.

As news leaked of UT's intended hire, it was met with backlash from Vols fans, plus some local and state politicians as well as local business owners. People gathered on campus Sunday to march and voice displeasure against the news. Others took to social media to voice disapproval.

The frustration centered, in part, around testimony released by a Philadelphia court in 2016 pertaining to the Jerry Sandusky case.

Schiano, a 51-year-old New Jersey native, was on staff at Penn State from 1990-95.

Former Penn State staffer Mike McQueary testified that fellow assistant Tom Bradley told McQueary that Schiano was aware of a child sexual abuse incident by Sandusky, who was Penn State's defensive coordinator.

Schiano and Bradley denied having knowledge or witnessing any of Sandusky's abuse.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse of boys.

Schiano is in his second season as Urban Meyer's defensive coordinator. He coached Rutgers for 11 seasons from 2001-11, posting a 68-67 record during his tenure before a two-year stint as the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was 11-21.

Ohio State is ranked eighth nationally in total defense after ranking sixth last season.

Ohio State will play in the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin on Saturday.

Tennessee's coaching position has been open since Currie fired Butch Jones on Nov. 12. Currie vowed to spearhead "an exhaustive search to identify a coach of the highest integrity and vision to propel Tennessee to championships."

Currie has never hired a football coach before, and he said he didn't plan to use a search firm to assist him.

Many UT fans had their hearts set on a different former Tampa Bay coach - Jon Gruden, the former Super Bowl champion coach who is currently an ESPN commentator on "Monday Night Football." Gruden's coaching career started on the staff at Tennessee in the 1980s, and for years he has teased Vol fans about his affection in Rocky Top.

Dan Mullen, an established winner in the SEC at Mississippi State, was a name the Vols were expected to pursue, but Mullen reached a deal Sunday with Florida, Tennessee's SEC East rival.

Schiano was known in the NFL as being a domineering leader with a challenging personality.

"Listen, Greg is an alpha male," said Rich Hansen, who is in his 35th season as coach at St. Peter's Prep, a powerhouse program in New Jersey.

Hansen has known Schiano for decades and sent several of his players to play for Schiano at Rutgers.

"He wants to win, and he wants things done a certain way, because that's the way he's convinced is the road to success," Hansen said. "The bottom line is, nobody is going to work harder, and nobody is going to care more for the players," Hansen added.

Schiano oversaw Rutgers' most successful period since the 1970s during his tenure as coach. The highlight was an 11-win season and No. 12 final ranking in 2006, marking just the second double-digit-win season in program history. Rutgers reached a bowl game in six of his 11 seasons.

"The proof is in the pudding," Hansen said. "He turned Rutgers around and built that thing into something unbelievable, and he's done an unbelievable job at Ohio State the last couple years."

Hansen and fellow coach Nunzio Campanile of Bergen Catholic, another New Jersey power that produced UT quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, described Schiano as meticulous and demanding but having the interests of players in mind.

Schiano has known Guarantano since he was a boy, and Guarantano tweeted on Sunday about a potential reunion with Schiano.

Campanile was previously an offensive coordinator Don Bosco Prep, a Maryland powerhouse, and he had several players play for Schiano at Rutgers. His brother, Anthony, also played for Schiano.

"He's a phenomenal football coach," Campanile said. "He's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met in this game."

But he won't, apparently, be bringing that football mind to Knoxville after a wild day.

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November 27, 2017
 
 
 

 

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