In a dramatic and controversial Sunday afternoon on the college football coaching carousel, former Buccaneers head coach and current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was apparently hired and then un-hired by the University of Tennessee for their head coaching job.
Schiano has been the Buckeyes defensive coordinator for the last two years after the Bucs fired him in 2013. On Sunday, reports surfaced that new Tennessee athletic director John Currie had traveled to Columbus to finalize a contract with Schiano, who has also previously been the Rutgers head coach.
That’s when things turned crazy and even, venomous, as Vols fans took to Twitter and other social media bemoaning the possible hire. So much so that security had to come to campus to monitor the situation. Take a look at what was spray painted on the Rock
The Rock on UT's campus. pic.twitter.com/aG3BXrkKOW
— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) November 26, 2017
Okay so within only a few hours the groundswell to rescind the contract offer hit a fever pitch. Schiano certainly wasn’t considered a top choice for the Vols fan base and the administration clearly wasn’t ready to see the specter of Penn State to hover like a mushroom cloud in Knoxville.
Now despite denying having any knowledge of the Jerry Sandusky situation in State College while he was an assistant, there was a 2016 Washington Post article that has different information within a legal deposition.
The deposition is from former PSU assistant Mike McQueary who named Schiano as someone with knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes against children.
Apparently this information was enough to rile up the fan base to outright reject the hire. Obviously there is going to be questions around whether this was the reason for the actual change of mind or if it was key boosters who weren’t happy with the hire. Perhaps it’s a combination of both, but that’s all speculation at this point.
Either way the situation is a total mess in Knoxville. The wagons are also starting to circle around AD Currie who made the initial decision in the first place to hire Schiano.
If Tennessee signed Greg Schiano to a memorandum of understanding, John Currie has to go. Backing out is the right move, but it’s too little, too late. The massive misjudgment of the situation demonstrates a remarkable lack of leadership and foresight.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 27, 2017
Now expect Schiano to take some action against Tennessee since they did put ink to the paper. Will he be able to squeeze any money of the school? That’s the part of the next chapter in this very bizarre quick developing story.
Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl
The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.
Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.
Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.
Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.
Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.
Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,
“We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”
Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.
This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.
The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.
New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls
As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.
First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.
The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.
Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.
Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.
As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.
The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.