What a wild Tuesday across the SEC.
First, Arkansas was expected to name Chris Petersen as its coach. Then Mike Gundy was announced and unannounced by writers from the same Arkansas newspaper via Twitter. Finally, Bret Bielema came from completely out of left field to snag the job.
At Auburn, the day began with whispers of Kirby Smart, Bobby Petrino and Gus Malzahn swirling. There was a lot more smoke surrounding Smart and Petrino. But it turns out the actual fire was burning next to Malzahn’s name.
With Kentucky hiring Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops last week, there’s just one remaining vacancy in the SEC and that’s Tennessee’s. Sources tell MrSEC.com that Charlie Strong — whether he admits it or not — and Mike Gundy have already interviewed. Larry Fedora is still reportedly in the mix as well.
And, yes, we continue to get email tips regarding Jon Gruden. Really. (Gruden-to-Tennessee is the “Weekend at Bernie’s” of coaching rumors. Just when you think everyone believes it’s dead, someone picks it up, dusts it off, walks it around some boosters, and boom! it’s back to life.)
So where will the Volunteers turn? Hell, after the Bielema-to-Arkansas pull, it’s clear AD Dave Hart could grab someone from far, far off the fan/media radar.
Didya know Mark Richt worked under Hart at East Carolina and Florida State? Just sayin’.
For now it looks like Tennessee’s search party is waiting for a decision from Gundy at Oklahoma State. If he didn’t land at Arkansas, it’s hard to imagine him moving to UT which has less cash to offer and a new recruiting zone to master (though that kind of recruiting concern didn’t stop Bielema from moving further south).
If Tennessee is indeed waiting on Gundy, might the school be in danger of losing out on Strong who has the head coaching experience and SEC ties Hart claimed he wanted when he kicked off his search? Fedora has both of those items as well, but it’s hard to get a straight answer from our UT and industry sources as to whether the Vols and North Carolina’s coach have actually met today in New York or not.
For now, all the other kids got their Christmas presents. Tennessee fans are still waiting for theirs. Will it be a Red Ryder BB gun-type surprise? Or maybe a shiny new toy that really isn’t so bad so once you unwrap it? Or will it be the dreaded bunny suit best described as a pink (or orange in this case) nightmare?
With a pair of Lexuses supposedly being delivered to UT’s campus today, we believe a presser should come in the next 24-48 hours.