KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s offer to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was “an aggressive offer,” a guaranteed multi-year contract worth “at least $7 million a year,” according to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiation.
Gundy’s current salary is $4.2 million according to the USA Today coaches’ database, and some reports on Tuesday indicated UT would be willing to pay him more than $8 million per year.
Gundy’s buyout, according to USA today, is $13.8 million.
Tennessee is responsible for Butch Jones’ $8.125 million buyout as well.
Jones was making $4.11 million annually in his fifth season — seventh-highest in the SEC.
Tennessee’s courting of Gundy came on the heels of a social media firestorm on Sunday, when the Vols’ fanbase rejected the attempted hiring of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.
The reaction on Rocky Top was so severe — including on-campus protests that prompted security presence — that athletic director John Currie pulled out of the deal.
Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Brown and son of Pilot Corporation founder Jim Haslam, has been involved in the coaching search along with Currie.
Vols’ icon Peyton Manning has been a consultant in the search, according to the source.
Had Tennessee been able to land an established coach like Gundy, who despite only winning one Big 12 championship has been one of the most coveted candidates, would have certainly appeased Vols’ fans.
Many Tennessee fans had their hopes set on Monday Night Football host and former Tampa Bay Bucs Super Bowl coach Jon Gruden.
Other top coaches the Vols are believed to have fruitlessly pursued included Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.
It’s the second time Gundy has rejected Tennessee — he was also approached in 2012 after Derek Dooley was fired.
Tennessee had contacted other coaching candidates to ask them if they would be interested in the job should Gundy not accept, including SMU coach Chad Morris and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm.
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