After being turned down by David Cutcliffe Monday, Tennessee has shifted its focus to trying to steal Mike Gundy away from Oklahoma State.
Brett McMurphy broke the news this afternoon that Tennessee has been in talks with Gundy to be their next head coach, and the phone interviews had gone well. He said Tennessee met with Gundy today in Dallas, and there is serious interest from both sides.
About an hour later, McMurphy reported that Peyton Manning had called Gundy to try to lure him to Knoxville before the face to fac meeting in Dallas ever happened.
Chris Low reported that Tennessee offered Gundy the job this afternoon in Dallas, and if Gundy accepts, he would be one of the highest paid coaches in the SEC. Tennessee had to throw a ton of money at him. Gundy went to Oklahoma State, and he is beloved there. He has a great team every year, and his job security is never going to be an issue in Stillwater.
From all reports, today’s meeting went well, and Gundy asked to have tonight think about it. Gundy’s decision is expected to come sometime tomorrow, and Vol fans are hoping this dramatic coaching search can finally come to a close.
Back in 2012, Gundy played the Vols so he could get more money at Oklahoma State. Many of the Vol faithful are worried this could be a repeat of 2012. There are a couple of reason why this time could be different though. First, McMurphy reported that Florida offered him the job last week before they hired Dan Mullen, and Gundy turned it down. If Gundy was just in it for a raise and an extension, surely that meeting with Florida would have been leaked before today.
Another reason people are hopeful this will turn out different than in 2012, is that there are numerous reports that Gundy thinks he has a much better chance to win a national championship at Tennessee than Oklahoma State. Tennessee has all the resources any coach could possibly need to win at the highest level. Tennessee recruits itself, and Gundy would have a much easier time attracting recruits to Knoxville than Stillwater.
Finally, if you are not buying the other reasons for Gundy to head east, Tennessee has reportedly offered to double Gundy’s salary. Money talks, and in this case, that could be the final piece to lock this deal down.
This would be one of the greatest turnaround in sports history if Currie is able to land Gundy tomorrow. Tennessee fans finally snapped Sunday, and stopped a disastrous Greg Schiano hire from happening. Can you imagine the thrill of Tennessee fans if they land a guy that could actually get their football program back on track just days after these same fans saved the program from another half decade of irrelevance.
There is no guarantee Gundy will accept the job, and there is a huge chunk of the Tennessee fan base that expects another gut punch to be delivered Wednesday morning. Can you blame them though after the last decade of misery on Rocky Top?
So if Gundy turns them down, what is next? I think Tennessee would have to call Kevin Sumlin, Les Miles, or Tee Martin. There are reports that Miles has contacted Tennessee about the job, but the Vols turned him down. Les Miles might not be considered an elite coach, but he is definitely better than what you have had, and Les Miles would be able to stabilize the program.
Kevin Sumlin would be another solid option for the Vols. Sumlin’s floor is 6-6, and after your first ever 8 loss season, bowl eligibility does not sound too bad. We have seen his Aggies beat Alabama on the road, and we know Sumlin can recruit. He would have a legitimate shot at winning the SEC East in the next 3 years, and that is all Vol fans can ask for right now.
Tee Martin would be my third choice of these three, but there is a huge push from fans and former players to bring Tee home. Martin won a championship at Tennessee in 1998 as the Vols quarterback, and he is currently the offensive coordinator at USC. I think Tee Martin will turn out to be a great head coach, but I do not know if he is ready yet to be in charge on Rocky Top. Tee has no head coaching experience, and Tennessee is a dumpster fire right now.
Hopefully we will all wake up in the morning to find out the Gundy accepted the job, and this whole thing will finally be in the rear-view mirror. If Gundy turns the Vols down, it will not be time to panic in Knoxville just yet, but we will be dangerously close to sounding the alarms.