One of the best unwritten traditions of the college football season is the yearly Tennessee meltdown. Today’s 99 Things we will break down some of the last few meltdowns from the Tennessee football program. The Tennessee program has been the plotline of numerous storylines over the past two decades since the departure of Phillip Fulmer. Josh Huepel is the fifth head coach to lead the program since the Fulmer tenure ended. None of the coaches have won more than 50% of their conference games.
The first major incident to send Tennessee into a meltdown was Lane Kiffin’s departure for USC. Lane Kiffin announced his resignation as the Volunteer Head Coach on January 12, 2010. The activities which ensued on campus would be their first meltdown. Students on campus would burn shirts with Kiffin’s name on it. Signs were created and marched around campus stating Kiffin was a traitor. Students burned a mattress outside of the football complex while other students were turned away by police officers from his press conference. As a reminder, Kiffin went 7-6 in his one season at Tennessee. The campus having a complete meltdown over a coach who was barely over .500.
My personal favorite meltdown was the timeline which resulted in Jeremy Pruitt being hired. Greg Schiano was rumored to be the next head coach after Butch Jones was fired. Schiano actually signed memorandum of understanding but the deal still fell through. One of the main advocates against Schiano was Clay Travis who helped build up the twitter mafia. Athletic Director John Currie was fired after the botched hiring of Schiano. He was then replaced by former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer. The list of rumored candidates who denied an interview or the job is lengthy. Mike Gundy, Jim Bob Cooter, David Cutcliffe, Dave Doeren, Kevin Sumlin, Mike Leach, Tee Martin, Les Miles, Mel Tucker, and Kevin Steele were all rumored candidates during the 24 day coaching search. Jeremy Pruitt was eventually hired with the approval of Clay Travis.
The Pruitt hiring proved to be as successful as the coaching search to find him. The University of Tennessee hired a search firm after they were verbally notified by the NCAA of potential serious violations. The search firm would reach a conclusion 10 staff members committed NCAA violations. Tennessee intended to fire Pruitt with cause to avoid paying him his remaining salary of more then $12 million. Pruitt was accused of paying recruits by handing out McDonald’s bags with cash in it though this was never confirmed.
Watching Vols twitter react to bad news is one of my favorite past times. I lose more work productivity during a Tennessee meltdown than any other sporting news. Rooting against Tennessee is not as much about watching them fail as it is to see the reaction on social media from the fan base. I am ready for some Vols bad news to help eat up my work days in the near future.