- Several reports say Tennessee has backed out of their deal to hire Greg Schiano as their football coach.
- The hiring was universally criticized, with many pointing to a report that Schiano knew about Jerry Sandusky acting inappropriately with young boys at Penn State but didn’t do anything.
- Even local politicians got involved, expressing displeasure in the hiring.
The Greg Schiano era at the University of Tennessee appears to be over before it had a chance to begin.
On Sunday morning, a surprise report said Tennessee was finalizing a deal to hire Schiano, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, to be their next football coach. However, after protests on campus and online, including the involvement of local politicians, the deal now appears to be off.
According to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, the school and representatives of Schiano are working on an “exit strategy” even though the process of hiring Schiano had already begun.
“SOURCES: There is some talk going on now between Greg Schiano’s reps & #Tennessee about an exit strategy of what has become a very volatile situation,” Feldman wrote on Twitter. “Paperwork was in progress. ‘They’ve spooked them all,’ said a source. ‘It’s a hot mess.'”
Mark Schlabach of ESPN also reported that Tennessee has backed out of a “memorandum of understanding” that was signed after the two sides reached a deal earlier in the deal.
The hiring by Tennessee was universally criticized. While some chastised the decision as not being “sexy” enough, and others referenced Schiano’s highly criticized stint as a head coach in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many in the “SchiaNO” crowd pointed to Schiano’s stint as an assistant coach at Penn State. The coach was accused of knowing that Jerry Sandusky was acting inappropriately with young boys and not informing the police or authorities at the school.
According to the Washington Post, former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary testified in 2012 that a third assistant coach told him that Schiano had told the third assistant about seeing Sandusky “doing something with a boy” as far back as the 1980s.
Here is how McQueary described the interaction with the third coach in his testimony and whether the coach provided any specific details:
“‘No,’ McQueary replied, according to the documents, ‘only that he had – I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning – but that Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower. And that’s it. That’s all he ever told me.'”
Schiano later denied the accusation, saying he “never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse” at Penn State.
As news of the pending hiring spread across Knoxville, many started to gather at the football stadium to express their displeasure with the move. One person even painted “The Rock” on campus.
They’ve already painted The Rock. Damn. Greg Schiano is gonna regret even considering the position. pic.twitter.com/KpEtRgVmKQ
— brittany. ⛵️⚓️ (@gigglebritt) November 26, 2017
Local politicians even got involved, expressing their displeasure publicly.
— Beth Harwell (@BethHarwellTN) November 26, 2017
@UTKnoxville if you hire him, the backlash will be insurmountable and devastating to the University and the state.
— Jeremy Faison (@JeremyFaison4TN) November 26, 2017
It’s not clear where Tennessee goes from here. Schiano will presumably return to Ohio State as they prepare for the Big Ten Championship game, although the topic of what Schiano knew at Penn State will almost certainly be revisited in the coming weeks on the Ohio State campus.