Publish date:

VOL POPULI

When Tennessee was about to hire a football coach, the fans weighed in—and got their way
Author:

BILL BELICHICK FAMOUSLY served as coach of the Jets for just one day. At Tennessee, Greg Schiano didn't get even that far. News leaked midday on Nov. 26 that the Volunteers had reached an agreement in principle to replace the fired Butch Jones with Schiano, the Ohio State defensive coordinator and a former head coach of Rutgers and of the NFL's Buccaneers. Vols fans almost immediately rebelled, wanting nothing to do with a coach who had gone 79--88 in both college and the NFL. By nightfall Schiano had lost the job he had never officially gotten.

The dissent took many forms—tweets, phone calls, emails, graffiti on a rock—and relied largely on one pretext: that Schiano, as an assistant at Penn State in the early 1990s, knew of Jerry Sandusky's serial child abuse and did not notify authorities.

The allegation, which Schiano has denied, was made in 2012 in a deposition by another assistant, Mike McQueary, and it was based on his recollection of what a third assistant, Tom Bradley, had told him years before. There is no good way in 2017 to ascertain its truth. Accordingly, some writers went to bat for Schiano, 51, arguing he deserved better than what he got.

Which would be true if he were banished from college football on the basis of the uncorroborated allegation. What he got in the end, though, was not so bad: He is still the DC of the Buckeyes and remains a viable candidate for a top job at a lower-profile school. Meanwhile, long-suffering Vols fans—whose response also cost John Currie his position as athletic director—actually did get something they deserved: a say in how their team is run.