Troy Calhoun: He looks a little Skip Bayliss-ish to me...

Volunteer fans, I come before you humbled. Like many of you, I spent most of last night glued to my computer surfing the various message boards (I tend to float between Outermonvolia, VolChat and Volquest) and my phone waiting on the first inkling of a coaching hire. At one point Hamilton was in Dallas to talk to Muschamp (or was it a smoke screen for Gary Patterson?) then he was in Colorado to see Troy Calhoun (or was he secretly meeting with Chris Peterson?) then he was in Orlando talking with Mickey Mouse about a 7 year 21 Million dollar deal but evidently it hinged on his ability to bring Donald (Duck, not Chris) in as his defensive coordinator. Bottom line: I’ve got no idea what the hell is going on. I do know that Matt Milton, Corey Miller, and Tyler Bray (three of our freshman already on campus) are not in favor of Calhoun. But before we delve into the bottomless pit of (mostly mediocre) coaches that we seem to be combing through, I want to talk briefly about our last coach…

He fucked us. I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but there is really no other way to say it. Two mornings ago Mac and I were talking about Kyle Prater. Now we’re talking about Kyle Wittingham. I watched all of Kiffin’s press conference last night and I will give props to Knoxville reporter Steve Phillips for flying out there to give Kiffin the business. First,there is no doubt in my mind that Orgeron was calling recruits. Matt Milton and several other guys already on campus confirmed as much and Brandon Willis’ dad has a statement about it in today’s USA TODAY. And while the reaction was swift and angry from Vol Nation I found myself feeling a little dirty about being pissed over those calls. Ed Orgeron is what he is, a savage recruiter with very few real morals to speak of, that will do whatever he has to do to get the best players and to win. He’s a mad dog, you let him loose and he just goes. His loyalties don’t mean anything more than just the logo that happens to be on his shirt that day. He used to be wearing our logo, now he’s not.

As for Kiffin…nobody loved him more than I. I totally bought in. He wanted to commit violations in the name of exposure, I’m down. He wants to call out Urban Meyer, even better. I still believe had he stayed that he would have built a winner here. When Kiffin said last night the riots in the streets meant they (his staff) had done something right, I agreed with him. We were getting players, we were showing imporvement, and now the rug has been yanked out from under us at the worst possible time. What sucks is that we all just receieved a reminder that as much as we may love UT, we’re not USC or even the other UT. Coaches will always leave the University of Tennessee’s of the world for the University of Southern California’s of the world. Its just easier to be succesful there and coach Kiffin even acknowledged as much.

That said, regardless of our inability to ever win a meaningful football game again (joooooooke), we are conducting a search for our next coach. Here’s a list of my candidates in order. I did not include Gruden because no one that I know of has spotted him playing golf with Thorton and Haslem yet.

1. Will Muschamp: Exciting young coach that has had success in the SEC. He’s also worked with Lance Thompson and keeping him is going to be a key in salvaging this recruiting class. Reports are that he’s already turned us down, and I wouldn’t be surprised, but he’s still my top candidate.

2. Greg Schiano: Coach of the year in 2006. Has recruited the hell out of southern Florida from Rutgers. Seriously, I don’t understand why he isn’t getting more buzz. He’s had a winning record every year since 2005, has won bowl games the last three years and Rutgers was a legit laughing stock before he got there. Hard nosed guy who recruits and works hard. I would love to have him. One problem is I have heard he could be a candidate should Jo-Pa ever retire (die). He signed an extension in 2007 and makes 1.5 a year. Hamilton calls and bumps it up to three is that enough to pull him?

3. Troy Calhoun: Perception is the only reason he is behind Schiano for me. He’s been at Air Force and they run the triple option. Not because he wanted to, but because when he got to Air Force they had one three-star player and not a man over 300lbs (I cannot back this up with anything verifiable, but I’ve read it more than once and it sounds good). He does have NFL experience having worked with the Broncos and Texans, but his Texans offense in 2006 was 28th in the league…I don’t know. He has won at Air Force which is not an easy thing to do, but in a lot of ways I feel like even with the head coaching experience he is a riskier choice than Muschamp. I really don’t know enough about him to say whether or not I feel like it would be a good hire, but he will have to assure Milton, Bray and the rest of the commits (and fans) that there will be no triple option at UT. Reports this morning appear to have him as the leader, and as of right now there is a real chance he is your next University of Tennessee football coach.

After that, I don’t really know. Cutcliffe is my worst nightmare as I think it would be the equivalant of Vol Nation reaching out for its warm blankie because it is scared. But Hamilton’s job is very much on the line. I doubt he’s going to trust his future in the hands of David Cutcliffe, and if he does it will have meant that we were turned down by several other coaches. Other candidates being tossed around are Chris Peterson of Boise, Randy Edsall at UConn (Basilio loves him…I could maybe get behind that hire too) Mike Leach (Gag me with a freaking broom handle), and George Quarles (joke). Gary Patterson would be on my list above Schiano, however I read this morning where Hubbs said he had declined to be considered a candidate. He would have made an excellent hire. Who knows where the list goes if the above are not hired. I have a feeling this gets done in the next 24 hours, but if it stretches much more than 72 hours and/or Kippy Brown ends up the head coach then Hamilton might as well pack his bags.