Tennessee’s Coaching Search Is a Dumpster Fire

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Let’s not pretend that Tennessee’s coaching search has been anything short of a disaster.

Because it has.

It’s gotten so bad a prominent Tennessee booster just texted me this, “Dave Hart couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse with a fist full of hundreds.”

Athletic director Dave Hart wanted complete control of the UT coaching search. He didn’t want a search firm, or a group of advisors, he wanted all the control, all the glory…the complete blame. Hart’s decision making ended in a crescendo of failure today, but his poor decisionmaking began before today. 

First, Hart refused to go all in with the Jon Gruden pursuit despite prominent boosters having wooed Gruden for months. Instead, Hart failed to go after Gruden, fiddled while Knoxville burned, and eventually offered the job to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, a coach who interviewed in his Stillwater house and actually picked him up at the airport.

Wouldn’t this raise a red flag for you?

That’s like your new high school girlfriend insisting that you take her out to eat at the only restaurant in town where her ex-boyfriend works.

It was clear that Gundy just wanted to make Oklahoma State jealous, show that he couldn’t be taken for granted.

Has any other coach with a job even admitted to interviewing for another job? Yet Gundy, the former quarterback at Oklahoma State who has spent his entire career in town, picks up Dave Hart at the Stillwater airport and then drives them to his house.

To his house in his car!

Wouldn’t you feel like maybe you were being used when Gundy talked to you from a lazy boy surrounded by Oklahoma State trophies?

Yet Hart still offers the job to Gundy and then also manages to offer the job to Charlie Strong at the same time. (Yes, there was a period of time when many believe that Tennessee had two outstanding offers at the same time. Although, to be fair to Hart, the idea of hiring both Strong and Gundy as co-head coaches would have been quite the coaching coup). Gundy, as every single person with a working brain knew he would, decided to stay at Oklahoma State and Louisville did exactly what they said they would do — matched any offer for Charlie Strong.

Uh oh.

At this point Hart decided he needed to raise his offer to four million dollars and he hopped on a plane flight to Louisville. With, according to Volquest.com, his wife in tow.

His wife!

What the hell was she going to do? (There are so many inappropriate jokes here, I’ll leave them to you).

Strong decides to stay at Louisville.


They can’t even fill a 60,000 seat stadium.

Hell, Strong himself even said earlier this week that he wishes Louisville fans would be more like Kentucky fans. Yes, the head coach of Louisville wishes his fan base was more like Kentucky football fans. And he chose to stay there rather than come to Tennessee, where even 70,000 fans are willing to show up to see Derek Dooley coach.

Earlier tonight a buddy of mine who played at UT called and said, “Louisville! When I was a kid they used to give out free football tickets to Louisville games if you had perfect attendance in elementary school.”

How bad is it for UT fans?

We might as well have put Xander, the buttchugging UT fraternity boy, and his buttchugging attorney in charge of this search.

It couldn’t possibly have gone any worse.

Meanwhile, Larry Fedora, UNC’s coach and the only other person that Hart purportedly interviewed, is so blown away by Hart’s incompetence that he supposedly won’t even take the job now.

Which means UT’s search has devolved into a comedy pyramid.

We’re back at square one, with no candidates and a fist full of cash. This is like throwing a bachelor party and getting stood up by the strippers.

Several years ago, my friends and I had a big discussion about how major programs in the SEC couldn’t completely screw up anymore because the dollars at stake were too substantial. We surmised that complete failure at a major program wasn’t possible. 

Then Tennessee fired Phil Fulmer.

And the Vols have hit rocky bottom, complete failure, the bedrock of Volunteer misfortune.  

Now Tennessee fans expect for the house to catch on fire. We just hope the whole building isn’t engulfed in flames too. 

Only, generally, the whole building is engulfed in flames too. 

And also the car, and the boat, and Smoky too. (Hell, even Smoky tore his ACL last year).   

Dave Hart tried to deploy the Travis dumptruck theory and instead lit the dumptruck full of cash on fire. Now the fire truck that came to put the dumptruck full of cash out is on fire too.

Is there any other program in America where you could predict the outcome of everything by simply picking the worst possible outcome? Fire Phil Fulmer, hire Lane Kiffin. Lane Kiffin bails two weeks before signing day with NCAA investigators fast on his heels, hire Derek Dooley. Lie to the NCAA about a BBQ, lose the winningest coach in basketball history. Hell, it’s not even really fair to include it because it’s the worst of all, but our women’s basketball coach even got Alzheimers.


I mean, talk about cursed.

Now Cuonzo Martin’s basketball teams haven’t even broken 40 points in two consecutive games.

Bruce Pearl’s team once scored 121 in an NCAA tournament game.


So I guess the coaching disaster shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I mean, hell, it’s not like UT is one of the eight winningest programs of all time, with an athletic department bringing in over $100 million a year, in a rapidly growing state, with a stadium that seats over 100,000 people, and the best brand new facilities in the SEC.


All of these things are true?

And we just got turned down by the school that gives away free tickets for perfect elementary school attendance?

I give up.

So who are the realistic options at this point? 

I think the two best possibilities, honestly, are Phil Fulmer and John Chavis bringing back the Tennessee Volunteer family to Knoxville or Bobby Petrino. 

You either go with the classy former Vols — Fulmer, Chavis, Jay Graham, and Tee Martin — or you go with Bobby Petrino and his shenanigans. I’ll break both of these options down for y’all tomorrow. 

In the meantime, the boosters are about to take control of this wild ride.

Remember when Alabama tried to hire Rich Rodriguez and he turned the Tide down?

That was the final straw for Alabama fans. After a decade of futility, they’d finally had enough embarrassment. The big boosters stepped in and said, we’re handling it from here.

Alabama hired Nick Saban. (Can you imagine what the Saban search would have been like in the Twitter age?). 

I think we’re very close to seeing the same thing happen in Knoxville, a booster take over.

You can say lots of bad things about rich boosters, but trust me, they can all get laid in a whorehouse with a fist full of hundreds.

And the Vols certainly have a fist full of hundreds right now.

If Dave Hart hasn’t already burned all of them up, that is.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.