The sordid Tennessee coaching saga touched close to home Thursday night, dragging none other than Washington State’s Mike Leach into the melodrama. And suddenly, the Cougar faithful must be wondering what it all means for the football program that Leach has resurrected.
The comically bungled Tennessee coaching search was a real hoot to watch from afar, you’ve got to admit.
When Lane Kiffin, a one-year occupant of that job before bolting for USC, tweeted a picture of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un photoshopped wearing Vols gear, with the caption that even he had “turned down the Tennessee job,” it officially jumped the shark from sports story to The Onion parody.
But then, out of the blue, the whole sordid saga touched close to home Thursday night, dragging none other than Washington State coach Mike Leach into the melodrama. And suddenly, it wasn’t quite so funny to Cougar faithful who now have to be wondering what it all means for the football program that Leach has resurrected.
It’s a valid question. It seems indisputable that Leach and Tennessee athletic director John Currie met in Los Angeles on Thursday. By many reports, including one from the co-author of Leach’s biography, Bruce Feldman of FOX, the WSU coach had “genuine interest” in the Tennessee job. Others went even further, reporting that Leach and Currie had worked out the parameters of a deal that would be announced Friday.
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That all blew up when Currie was abruptly called back to Knoxville and summarily “suspended” Friday, the latest macabre twist to a story that has done immeasurable damage to Tennessee’s already waning football reputation. It seems that Currie had gone rogue by pursuing Leach without the approval of his bosses, complicated by the apparent sabotage by former Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer, who desperately wanted the AD job himself and, voila, now has it.
I’m telling you, the 30-for-30 documentary that will one day be produced on all this will be riveting. “What if I told you … that Greg Schiano was fired at Tennessee before he was even hired because of a vigilante backlash by Vols fans ostensibly outraged by his connections to the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse case but probably more motivated by his 68-67 record at Rutgers?”
But back to Leach, whose flirtation with Tennessee no doubt ended the instant that Currie was ousted. Now he’ll…