Get out the popcorn, folks.
The Volunteers are at it again. The once-proud program, which has won 49.3% of its games in the last dozen years, is yet again looking for a new head football coach.
Who will replace Jeremy Pruitt?
Lots of fun possibilities are out there, and the opinionating is already coming in fast and furious.
Clay Travis, who started his sports hot takery career as a Volunteers fan blogger, says Hugh Freeze has to be considered if the only goal is winning.
In fact, Travis would put money on Freeze notching a 10-win season within three years if he was hired.
“I would risk a million of my dollars,” he said in the OutKick.com video below. “I would go on the table right now and I would put a million dollars on the table for the University of Tennessee. If Hugh Freeze is hired and he doesn’t win 10 games within three years, I would donate a million dollars to the University of Tennessee’s scholarship foundation. A hundred percent. I would, I would put that money on the table. That’s how confident I am.”
Of course, there’s that one little caveat: “I don’t know if Tennessee will touch it because of prior NCAA issues, but he is the most certain winner that Tennessee could go and hire.”
Yes, that is a something to consider.
During the press conference announcing Pruitt’s firing, UT Chancellor Donde Plowman said the next Tennessee head coach needed to be a winner “with integrity.”
Not so sure Hugh Freeze qualifies as that after his scandal-riddled tenure at Ole Miss.
On a sort of positive note, Freeze actually did win big — even if he did cheat. The same can’t be said of Pruitt, who compiled a record of 16-19 in three seasons.
“I didn’t think anybody could buy players and build a worse team than Ole Miss, when they were buying players under Hugh Freeze,” said SEC football commentator “Uncle Lou.” “But God bless Jeremy Pruitt and Voltard Nation, they found out a way to do it. My God, buying players just to go three and seven, unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Uncle Lou isn’t very forgiving when it comes to the state of Tennessee football: “Compared to expectations, you’re probably the worst program in all of football.”
“Now, Florida state has been really bad the last few years. They haven’t been as bad for as long as you. Here’s Texas, here’s Nebraska, whatever, any of these other household name programs that are in the toilet right now…. I don’t know that it matters who you hire. I’m dead serious.”
Well, that’s no fun.
It does matter who Tennessee hires because even if that next head coach doesn’t get them back to the mountaintop, he can at least make the program a respectable winner again. A similar dynamic is playing out with Sam Pittman at Arkansas. Hog fans won’t begrudge Pittman if he leaves the program years from now having fallen short of a national title, so long as he gets that program back to where it’s within reach of such a feat, where it’s once again a destination program for the next coach who can take it to the finish line.
Besides Freeze, here are some promising candidates for Tennessee’s next head coach:
For a breakdown of most of those potential candidates, see this: