The Tennessee Volunteers coaching search has begun once again for the third time in nine years, and boy is it a good one. Regardless of who Athletic Director John Currie hires as head coach, these are the pros and cons of coaching college football in Knoxville.
Tennessee is a great job
Tennessee is a top-15 job in the nation, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To go along with its historic traditions, Tennessee football ranks No. 2 in the country in revenue produced. Revenue doesn’t always yield a good job, but it is generally equated with the tradition and success of the fan base. This program has been waiting to reach national prominence for far too long and all it takes is the right coach to bring Knoxville back to the glory days.
Recruiting is booming
It’s nearly impossible to put together a bad recruiting class at Tennessee. Even in the dark days of the Dooley era, the recruiting classes always remained consistently solid. High school football in the state of Tennessee has proven that it can produce high-quality players. Also, Tennessee football has had continued success recruiting in pipeline states like California, Georgia, and Florida. Recruiting at Tennessee has always been, and always will be great. Bringing talent to Knoxville is the easy part, developing them – as seen with Butch Jones – is a little tougher.
SEC East is weak
No matter who jumps into the coaching position at Tennessee, they will have an instant chance to compete for a spot in the SEC Championship. The Florida Gators are in a similar situation to the Vols and will be rebuilding, but the rest of the SEC East seems to have leveled off recently other than Kentucky. Georgia always poses a threat, but in general, the SEC East is top-heavy and very winnable for a Volunteers team that is coached by the right person. The ability to come in and win instantly is part of the attraction of coaching at Tennessee.
Vol Nation is impatient
The Tennessee fan base is impatient, and by no means am I saying that in a demeaning way. The fans have a right to be irritated after having three coaches in the short span of nine seasons. The fate of the Tennessee football program falls on Athletic Director John Currie, and if the wrong hire is made, even his job could be in question. However, luckily for Currie, winning fixes everything and reigns supreme on Rocky Top. Especially with the disastrous years they have had following the firing of Phillip Fulmer.
Playing SEC football
The plethora of recruits and instant national prominence comes with a price for coaches at Tennessee. They have to play the daunting Volunteers schedule, which has recently been one of the toughest in the SEC. Although it is nothing compared to the grueling schedules in the SEC West, the Vols still have one of the tougher schedules in the conference. Tennessee has the burden of playing Alabama every season, plus the added weight of Florida and Georgia as historic powerhouses.
Pressure to win
The pressure to win comes at nearly every school in the country. However, the pressure to have success is at another level in the SEC, and especially at Tennessee. The Vols administration will not waste much time on the next hire if they do not produce quick results. As seen in Butch Jones’ situation, the fan base does not take too kindly to keeping a losing coach at the helm. Tennessee has a historic and fruitful history and they don’t tolerate mediocrity, nor should they.
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Edited by Ben McKee