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Sources: UT Offers Cincinnati’s Jones

Multiple sources inside the University of Tennessee football program have told MrSEC.com that the Volunteers have offered their head coaching position to Cincinnati’s Butch Jones Thursday night.  Jones has been pursued by Purdue and Colorado this offseason and the coach turned down the Buffaloes’ offer earlier today.

Tennessee was turned down by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Louisville’s Charlie Strong on Wednesday.

(What will Jon Gruden think?)

 

UPDATE – UT athletic director Dave Hart is believed to have met with Jones in Kentucky on Thursday evening.  According to two sources in the UT football program — as noted above — an offer was extended.  The site FootballScoop.com also reported Thursday: “Sources tell us that Butch Jones has been offered the job.  No decision expected tonight.”

Meanwhile, in typical fashion for this Tennessee search, the site GoVols247 (behind a paywall) — a partner website of The Knoxville News Sentinel — reports that some UT boosters may be making a late push encouraging Vol brass to speak with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

Perhaps the Volunteers will double-offer Jones and Smart as they double-offered Mike Gundy and Charlie Strong earlier this week.  If Tennessee is like every other school out there, Vol officials will still deny offering anyone but the person who finally accepts their job.

Remarkably, messageboard rumors continue to claim Gruden’s deal is done and he will be announced as UT’s new head coach soon.  (Which would make the Vols’ trek from Gundy to Strong to Jones to perhaps Smart the longest, widest screen of smoke since Chicago burned in 1871.)

Stay tuned…

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Gruden’s Agent Shoots Down UT Talk

The agent for Jon Gruden has told The Knoxville News Sentinel that reports that his client had received an offer from Tennessee were from a “fantasy world.”  According to Bob LaMonte:

 

“I haven’t said anything (about the rumors) because there’s been nothing to say.  This, to me, is just a fantasy world.”

 

LaMonte said that he spoke to UT athletic director Dave Hart for the first time this morning:

 

“He just said there had been a lot of rumors and he just wanted to clear the air.  I said, ‘Thank you for the call.  I appreciate it.’  He said, ‘thank you,’ and that was it.”

… “He said, ‘I just wanted to do due diligence.’  I said, ‘Thank you but Jon has made it clear he’s committed to ESPN.’  He thanked me and said goodbye.”

 

Rather definitive it would seem.  Though there’s no doubt that Gruden and Tennessee sent word back and forth regarding the UT opening before Hart dialed up the ESPN analyst’s agent for a final check.

Either way, Gruden now appears to be as gone as Keyser Soze.

 

like that, its gone

 

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Gruden Mania Won’t Die In Tennessee: The Latest On UT’s Search

Last night, WREG-TV in Memphis poured an enormous amount of gasoline on the Jon Gruden fire already burning across the state of Tennessee.  According to the station’s report:

 

“News Channel 3 has learned former NFL coach Jon Gruden has a contract offer in hand from the University of Tennessee and a decision could be made as early as (today).

Part of the offer is Gruden getting a piece of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who were recently bought by Jimmy Haslam III, one of UT’s biggest boosters.”

 

From there, Twitter and messageboards exploded.  According to the NFL writers at ProFootballTalk.com: “Oh boy.  This may be the most outlandish Jon Gruden coaching rumor yet.”  John Infante of BylawBlog.com tweeted this little nugget following the WREG report:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since then, both the Browns (Haslams) and Gruden have denied the report.  Asked this morning on the ESPN radio program “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” if there was any truth to the report, Gruden said, “No, there isn’t.”  He added: “I’m just excited about Monday Night Football.  I like what I’m doing.  I’m just trying to hang on to the job that I have.”

The Browns then released a statement saying:

 

“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous.”

 

Last evening, MrSEC.com worked the phones regarding each of the three coaching vacancies in the Southeastern Conference.  Here’s what we were told by one source inside the University of Tennessee administration and one industry source:

 

1.  No decision on a Tennessee head coach will be made before athletic director Dave Hart travels to New York for the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame inductions this weekend.  The Hall of Fame dinner — at which former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer will be honored — is on December 4th.

2.  UT’s AD has not met with Gruden face-to-face yet.  While rumors swirl that a deal is done and an announcement will come today, tomorrow, Friday, three weeks ago (literally), it’s hard to imagine an athletic director hiring a coach without ever having met him.

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SEC Coaching Carousel Update – 11/26/12

With four jobs now open — Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee — here’s the latest news and gossip concerning each SEC coaching search:

 

Arkansas

Razorbacks AD Jeff Long reportedly met with the Arkansas team yesterday and told them that his timetable for hiring a new coach is 10-14 days.  The fact that Long had an eight-month head start on all other schools but didn’t have a hire ready to announce as soon as the season ended isn’t sitting well with many Hog fans.  So long as Arkansas finds the right guy, all will be fine in the long run.  But in this day and age, fans aren’t going to be patient.

Reports have already tied Arkansas to TCU’s Gary Patterson.  We believe UA representatives spoke with Patterson’s reps before a breakdown in discussions a couple of weeks back.  This communication could kick up again, but at the moment it appears Patterson will stay put in Fort Worth.

Jon Gruden was reportedly offered the Razorbacks job and turned it down last week.  It’s also been reported that Arkansas officials reached out to representatives for Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (though VU athletic director David Williams has said he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his coach in Nashville).  A new name has been added to big-spending Arkansas’ wish list — that of Boise State’s Chris Petersen — but it’s unlikely he’ll move.  He’s turned down just about every premier job in the country at this point and it’s quite possible that he saw what happened to Dan Hawkins when he left Boise for Colorado.  Perhaps Petersen would rather be a big fish in a small pond than vice versa.

The fact that UA has been tied to so many coaches suggests that Long really didn’t do a whole lotta agent-contacting before season’s end.  Fair or not, many in the UA fanbase believe the AD failed to do enough legwork during the season.

And anyone hoping Arkansas would rush back and rehire Bobby Petrino can likely forget that one.  Long made a point of saying this weekend that UA will look for a coach with “discipline, honesty and integrity.”  You can bet Long doesn’t feel Petrino fits those criteria.

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SEC Headlines – 11/2/12

SEC WEST

1.  Writer on Tide versus NFL talk: “This runaway inflation of Alabama’s reputation is the last thing the Crimson Tide needs before playing a road game against the one team on the schedule most capable of beating it.”

2.  A hint that he’ll survive?  Gene Chizik “mapped out part of the 2013 depth chart” for Auburn last night.

3.  Arkansas receiver and emergency quarterback Brandon Mitchell will be suspended for a second straight game tomorrow.

4.  Asked if the “Mad Hatter” would pull out any tricks against Alabama, LSU’s Les Miles removed his hat and said, “Should I tell him?  Nah, I think I’ll keep the old hat on.”

5.  How can Mississippi State stop Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?  Keep him on the sideline.

6.  Georgia’s riding high after a win over Florida, but Ole Miss travels to Athens with some confidence of its own.

7.  Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope… “he’s our rock.”

 

SEC EAST

8.  Florida defensive lineman Leon Orr will miss tomorrow’s Missouri game after being hospitalized with the flu.  But Orr isn’t alone.  Will Muschamp on the flu bug: “We’ve been hit pretty good this week.”

9.  Georgia running back Todd Gurley is on pace to become just the second Bulldog freshman to rush for a thousand yards in a season.  (Some guy named Herschel was the other.)

10.  Last year’s Vanderbilt game was a low point for Kentucky’s defense…

11.  And Commodore running back Zac Stacy was a big reason why.

12.  South Carolina’s Kenny Miles will again try to pick up the slack for an injured Marcus Lattimore.

13.  Tennessee’s players are trying to block out the distractions with Troy coming to town.

14.  Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has put his money where his mouth is and had unprecedented success for the Tigers.

 

SEC/COLLEGE NEWS

15.  Jon Gruden — the same Jon Gruden that Arkansas and Tennessee fans are drooling over — is being used in a new Alabama recruiting flier after saying the NFL’s 49ers “remind me of how Alabama plays.”

16.  Nobody plays defense like Bama and LSU.

17.  For BCS purposes, LSU needs to beat Bama and get some help from Southern Cal this weekend.

18.  BCS officials say Notre Dame is an attractive option for their bowls.

19.  Ex-LSU star Tyrann Mathieu is out of Baton Rouge “to get away from the madness” and isn’t likely to return to the school following his recent arrest.

20.  Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins is rising up the draft lists.  (Just me or does it seem that UGA loses about 10 underclassmen to the NFL each year?)

 

SEC BASKETBALL

21.  Will Yeguete shined in Florida’s exhibition hoops win over Nebraska-Kearney last night.

22.  Kentucky was up and down in a blowout exhibition win over Northwood.  (Is that a Lexington high school?)

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Wow Evening Headlines 10/29/2012

The SEC has five teams ranked in the top eight of the latest BCS standings…
#1 Alabama, #5 LSU, #6 Georgia, #7 Florida and #8 South Carolina
More than 1,000 people turn out in Columbia, South Carolina Monday afternoon to wish running back Marcus Lattimore a quick recovery and happy 21st birthday
Lattimore tore “several ligaments” in his right knee as it was hyperextended during Saturday’s game, not expected to be career-ending
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Arkansas’ top choice as a new coach is TCU’s Gary Patterson
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Jon Gruden and Bobby Petrino will be Tennessee’s top choices should the school fire Derek Dooley
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Kentucky will have an interest in Phillip Fulmer, David Cutcliffe and Sonny Dykes if Joker Phillips is fired
Follow all the SEC news and scuttlebutt at MrSEC.com on on Twitter at twitter.com/mrsec

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WOW Headlines – 10/29/12

The SEC has five teams ranked in the top eight of the latest BCS standings…
#1 Alabama, #5 LSU, #6 Georgia, #7 Florida and #8 South Carolina
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore’s knee injury versus Tennessee on Saturday is not expected to be career-ending
Lattimore tore “several ligaments” in his right knee as it was hyperextended during Saturday’s game
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Arkansas’ top choice as a new coach is TCU’s Gary Patterson
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Jon Gruden and Bobby Petrino will be Tennessee’s top choices should the school fire Derek Dooley
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Kentucky will have an interest in Phillip Fulmer, David Cutcliffe and Sonny Dykes if Joker Phillips is fired
Follow all the SEC news and scuttlebutt at MrSEC.com every single day of the year

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Hogs’ A.D. Talks Football With Booster Club, Eyes A Coaching Decision By Mid-December

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long met with a number of rabid Razorback fans at the Little Rock Touchdown Club yesterday.  Naturally, the state of his coaching search was a hot topic.

Asked what “phase” his coaching search is in, Long said: “Just research at this point.”  Just a few weeks ago he told another booster group that he’s had no contact with coaches or their representatives.  Here’s hoping he’s lying his rear end off, ’cause if he’s spent the time from April til October simply looking at resumes, he’s wasted a lot of valuable time.  (For that reason, we suspect he is lying his rear end off and has talked to representatives for coaches and perhaps a few out of work ones like Butch Davis and Jon Gruden one-on-one.)

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SEC Headlines 4/15/2011

1. Offense on parade at Georgia’s spring game – highest point total of the Mark Richt era. A neck and neck battle at the tailback spot.

2. With spring practice over and off-fields events dominating the news, what Georgia needs is a quiet summer.

3. Gene Chizik’s reaction to Auburn’s A-Day game? ”I wouldn’t pay attention to any of the stats today.”

4. Auburn’s starting quarterback? ”The writing appears to be on the wall…”

5. Who’s the bigger star at Auburn – Bo Jackson or Cam Newton?

6. What did Steve Spurrier think of the South Carolina spring game? “We obviously threw the ball and caught better than we have in any spring game. I thought our coverage could’ve been better.”

7. USC running back Marcus Lattimore on his injured leg:  “I have complete confidence in it [the knee] right now.”

8. Early enrollee running back T.J. Yeldon creates a buzz at Alabama’s A-Day game. Nick Saban likes what he sees from punter Cody Mandell.

9. Alabama will be good in 2012 – but how good?

10. Spring game fashion show at Mizzou – football field turns into a catwalk as new uniforms are revealed. Twelve players miss the game with injuries.

11. Can we expect the Wildcat formation to be a staple at Vanderbilt?

12. Arkansas running back Knile Davis on the Bobby Petrino firing: “Some days I wake up and I’m like, ‘Is this really happening?’ 

13. Tyler Wilson on Petrino: He ”instilled the ideas and philosophies and if we can continue those we’re going to be a heck of a football team.”

14. Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders likes his collection of running backs.

15. Running back Marlin Lane reasserts himself during Tennessee’s Saturday scrimmage. The Vols also  liked what they saw from wide receiver Justin Hunter.

16. Keep your eye on Mississippi State’s Malcom Johnson – expected to be one of the centerpieces of the Bulldogs offense this fall.

17. Ole Miss quarterbacks stand out during Saturday’s scrimmage.

18. Who’s the favorite to win the quarterback job at Texas A&M?

19. What did we learn from LSU football this spring?  Some answers and some more questions.

20. Jon Gruden on the state of the game: “I talked to [former Miami Dolphins coaching legend] Don Shula a few months ago. He says he doesn’t even recognize the game anymore. The message is clear: Football’s changing. And if it hasn’t already, it will be coming to your high school this fall.”

21. Joe Dean on new LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones:  ”It’s a cultural thing, and Johnny understands that, having worked under Dale Brown. I think Trent didn’t understand the culture.”

22. Jones was not the first choice at LSU - but he could be the right one.

23. Tons of change at most basketball programs in the SEC but at Tennessee?  “(T)here’s barely a breeze.”

24. UK broadcaster Tom Leach on getting a championship call just right.  “Here’s how you count to eight. Three, two one …”

Extra:

25. A longtime sportswriter in the Magnolia State says farewell.

 

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Turmoil At UT As Fans Turn On Dooley, Stories Of A Divided Team Leak Out

The Derek Dooley Era at Tennessee would last no longer than two years if many Vol fans had their say.  Saturday’s loss at Kentucky — the first UT loss to the Wildcats since 1984 — has set off a wave of rumors and bad will that threaten to undo the Vols’ latest rebuilding job before it truly gets started.

So what’s all the turmoil?  Try this:

* After the loss to Kentucky, more than one outgoing UT senior claimed that some members of the Vol squad care more about their stats than the team.  They suggested that not everyone wanted to play this past Saturday.

* Some Volunteers weren’t ready to volunteer for duty at a “lesser” bowl game according to one upperclassman.  “Why play hard in Lexington if the reward is simply a trip to Memphis or Nashville?”

* Rumors abound that the suspensions of four backups prior to last week’s game led to a near revolt among players as practices in Knoxville devolved into little more than walk-throughs.

* The team lacks adult supervision from within.  Only 14 seniors were on Dooley’s squad this year.  Of those, none were standouts.  (That’s a by-product of the 18 players lost during the Phillip Fulmer and Lane Kiffin transitions.)  So the younger players on the team — and the team was made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores — had no proven, elder leaders to follow.

* With no veteran leaders, players began to follow the best players on the team and unfortunately for UT fans, players like quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Da’rick Rogers aren’t believed to have the best attitudes on the squads.

* To make matters worse, Dooley himself helped to create an air of negativity by spending a heckuva lot of time in the press ripping his players.  Reports from those close to the program say more than once players were ready to walk away from Dooley’s program as a result of being thrown under the coach’s bus.  (Like him or not, there’s not much about Derek Dooley’s demeanor that reminds one of his father, Vince.)

Suffice to say, Vol fans aren’t happy.  Even though they should have known this was coming.

The Tennessee media and many across the SEC — including this site — expected two straight years of so-so football as Dooley tried to dig out from the mess created by his predecessors.  But college football fans aren’t much for patience, even when they’ve been told they’ll need to have some.

Now, many people are calling for Dooley to be fired immediately.  “Why prolong the obvious,” they ask?

For one, because a long-term view suggests that UT’s best bet is to stick with Dooley for at least one more season and allow him to further stabilize the program from a roster standpoint.  Tennessee will have depth and experience for the first time in three years in 2012.  And the Vol coach is likely to bring in his third-straight Top 15 recruiting class next February.

To blow him up now would mean more turnover, further attrition.  In other words — a deeper hole for the next guy to dig out of.  Before hiring Dooley, Tennessee tried to throw money at Will Muschamp and even gave a call to Jon Gruden.  But Gruden had no interest and Muschamp told the Vols they would be looking at a three-year rebuilding project (he knew what he was talking about).

So what would potential hires say to new AD Dave Hart if he asked them to become the school’s fourth head coach since 2008?   Probably something similar to what Muschamp said.

There’s nothing on his resume — other than his last name and a connection to Nick Saban — to suggest that Dooley is the right guy for Tennessee.  But that doesn’t mean he won’t become the right person.  Certainly his first two seasons were negatively impacted by the work of his predecessors (though some troubles were exacerbated by his own poor moves).

But even if Dooley isn’t the right guy for Knoxville, Vol fans had better hope Hart doesn’t listen to their complaints and follow the lead of Kansas and Memphis and fire his coach after two seasons.  There’s a reasons those programs are Kansas and Memphis.

If Tennessee were to fire Dooley now, it would only set back the school’s rebuilding efforts.  Again.

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