The fans spoke up loud and clear. Tennessee is no longer pursuing Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to be the school’s new head coach. The school and Schiano were close to an agreement earlier Sunday, but the deal fell apart after widespread backlash that included a protest on campus and complaints on social media from fans, state representatives and gubernatorial candidates.
Their complaints stemmed from Schiano’s background as an assistant at Penn State during Jerry Sandusky’s tenure as the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for his conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse. Court documents released last year of a deposition in a case related to the Sandusky scandal suggested Schiano might have been aware of Sandusky’s sexual abuse against children, though Schiano says he had no knowledge of what was happening at the time.
State leaders from Tennessee State Rep. Jeremy Faison, to gubernatorial candidate Diane Black criticized the proposed move openly. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Tennessee had been in contact with Schiano and spoke out on his behalf Sunday during a conference call previewing the Buckeyes’ Big Ten championship game with Wisconsin.
That didn’t stop Tennessee fans from voicing their displeasure with Tennessee’s decision to consider Schiano for the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy.About 100 people gathered on Tennessee’s campus to protest a potential Schiano hire, with many of them holding signs with various messages such as “Schia-NO.”
Schiano posted a 68-67 record from 2001-11 as the head coach at Rutgers, where he turned around what had been one of the nation’s worst programs. He also went 11-21 as coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-13.
Tennessee (4-8, 0-8 SEC) fired coach Butch Jones two weeks ago and ended its season Saturday with a 42-24 loss to Vanderbilt. This year marked the first time Tennessee lost as many as eight games in a single season and the first time the Vols had ever finished winless in SEC play.