Analysis | How does Tennessee’s suspension of John Currie affect Mike Leach and WSU’s athletic-director search?

John Currie was hired by WSU President Kirk Schulz when he was at Kansas State, and they have a long-standing relationship. WSU is still looking for an athletic director. Does one thing lead to the other?

The reported courtship of Washington State football coach Mike Leach took a bizarre twist Friday morning when Tennessee athletic director John Currie, who had met with Leach in Los Angeles on Thursday, was suspended.

Several reports said Currie had drafted a memorandum of understanding with Leach, but someone at Tennessee had objected to Currie’s courtship of Leach and shortly after the MOU was sent to Tennessee’s general counsel, Currie was recalled to Knoxville.

Currie was suspended after a meeting with Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport.

In a brief news conference Friday afternoon to announce the appointment of former Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer as acting athletic director, Davenport refused to answer any questions about Mike Leach’s status with the Vols.

To explain why she suspended Currie, Davenport said, “Early yesterday afternoon, I asked John Currie to return to Knoxville before going forward with the (football coaching) search. That request had nothing to do with any specific coach.”

It appears that Currie did not immediately comply with this directive, but went through with his plans to have lunch with Leach in Los Angeles to discuss the job.

Consequently, “this morning, I decided to make a change in leadership,” Davenport said. “It was a decision I felt was in the best interest of our university.”

Tennessee’s ongoing drama aside, I’m skeptical of reports that said Leach had agreed to terms with the Vols. (See this piece to understand why: The unstable leadership situation in Knoxville is not something that would be attractive to Leach under any circumstances.)

Here is what we know:

  1. Leach met with Currie on Thursday about his football opening.
  2. Before that meeting, Leach met with WSU president Kirk Schulz to discuss a contract extension.
  3. Schulz has said he wants to do everything he can to retain Leach.
  4. With Bill Moos now at Nebraska, the Cougars are looking for a new athletic director, preferably one who gets along with Leach.
  5. Currie is suspended, and his departure from Tennessee appears imminent.
  6. Schulz hired Currie as Kansas State’s athletic director in 2009 when he was there.

Do those facts form a chain? And how will things play out now?

Well, expect Leach, his…

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