KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s leadership lost faith in John Currie’s ability to carry out the search, leading to his termination on Friday, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Tennessee has a press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. to announce the direction of its athletic department, and presumably, it’s football coaching search.
Currie was secretive the first two weeks of the coaching search, involving only booster Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee icon Peyton Manning.
Currie’s first mistake was not involving a search firm, which could have saved Tennessee the embarrassment of public turn downs and last Sunday’s debacle.
When word leaked on Sunday that Currie was in the final stages of negotiations with controversial Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, the Vols’ fan base unleashed a social media firestorm of unprecedented proportion.
Protests broke out on campus, and Tennessee backed out of its deal with Schiano.
Vols Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer, hired announced June 20 as special advisor to the president, had not been involved in the coaching search up to the point of the Schiano negotiations.
But by the end of the week, when Currie was traveling to North Carolina to interview North Carolina Sate coach Dave Doeren, Fulmer was accompanying him.
That could be interpreted as a sign that President Joe DiPietro wanted the situation monitored more closely.
Fulmer has grown close with DiPeitro working by his side at fundraising events, the two forming a strong leadership front.
Previously, part of the stipulation of Fulmer’s position as advisor to the president was that he would not be directly involved with athletic department dealings, according to the source.
Time running out
Fulmer’s presence on the plane to North Carolina was an early sign that Currie’s time as Tennessee athletic director could be running out.
Doeren, of course was the last of several coaches to turn down the Vols’ head coaching offer.
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm made it clear they did not have interest in the job leading up to Doeren.
Currie was in the midst of negotiations with Washington State coach Mike Leach when he was called back to Knoxville to meet with chancellor Beverly Davenport Friday morning.
Currie was hired last February and began his athletic duties on April 1.
Currie hired new baseball coach Tony Vitello on June 7, and worked with Davenport to reinstate the Lady Vols name and logo to all women’s athletic teams.
Currie’s tenure, however, will be remembered for what has become the biggest coaching hire debacle since Alabama’s dealings with Mike Price in 2003.
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