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When Danny White took the athletic director job at Tennessee in 2021, he had a massive task on his hands to rebuild the Vols athletic department. The process started with hiring a new head football coach after Jeremy Pruitt was fired due to NCAA violations. Both Josh Heupel and Tony Elliott were candidates for the opening at Tennessee.
After taking the position in Knoxville, White went to work in finding the right guy to lead the program, knowing he had to get this one right. After a number of interviews, speaking with head coaches and assistant coaches around the country, White decided to hire Josh Heupel, from his previous job at UCF.
Obviously during that time, there was interest shown in a number of candidates, which included former Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliot. After going through the motions of a coaching search, Danny White hired Heupel and Elliot stuck around Clemson for one more season.
After that final season at Clemson, Elliot accepted the Virginia head coaching position, looking to make some noise in the ACC. But still to this day, Elliott is claiming he turned down the Tennessee job (Maybe he did), which seems to have annoyed athletic director Danny White for the last time.
“First of all, obviously, Tennessee is, in my opinion, one of the Blue Bloods,” Tony Elliott said on Monday. “One of the top tier programs in the country. When I evaluated it, there were a lot of positive things about it. It just wasn’t the right time for me. So when it came down to it, I prayed about it and said I want the Lord to lead me in the direction that He’d have me to go. So, it was close. But at the end of the day, when I looked at the totality of everything, it just wasn’t the right time and the right fit for me.
“I’m happy for Heupel. Excited for him and what he’s doing there. Obviously, an extremely passionate fan base. All the resources that you need to be a top tier program.”
Tennessee’s Danny White Claps Back At Tony Elliot
On Monday night, after seeing the comments made by the Virginia coach about seemingly turning down the Tennessee job, Danny White had seen enough. It’s clear that White didn’t take his own advice and text a buddy, which he said during his first month on the job.
“If you’re upset or you’re negative, text your buddy. Don’t put it on social media,” White said in 2021.
The Vols athletic director took to X-Twitter to shoot down the rumor that Elliott was offered the Tennessee job.
We see this all the time in college football, especially when a coaching search is heating up. One person says they weren’t offered, then the other person claims they turned it down. This time around, Danny White had enough of the narrative.
At the end of the day, Josh Heupel has the Vols rolling at the moment, heading into the 2023 season looking to build off an 11-2 season and Orange Bowl victory.
Tennessee and Virginia will face each other in the season opener in Nashville on Sept. 2.