Tennessee’s now infamous football coaching search was led initially by John Currie, who lost his job as athletics director for debacling the whole deal. Currie initially lined up Greg Schiano for the job, but after massive backlash online, he altered course, and eventually shifted his focus to NC State head coach Dave Doeren.
As we know now, Doeren never took the Tennessee job, instead electing to sign an extension to stay at NC State. But Doeren did meet with Currie, and based on the evidence in some newly released documents via a public records request, Doeren’s interest in Tennessee was very much genuine. Currie’s handling of the situation, though, was curious.
Currie received several texts from Doeren’s agent, Jordan Bazant, in the last week of November; Bazant sounded eager to get a deal done, but never heard back from Currie, and whatever deal they may have had in theory quickly evaporated. Via Blake Toppmeyer of The Knoxville News:
After Tennessee didn’t reach a deal with Gundy, Currie exchanged messages with Doeren’s agent, Jordan Bazant.
”Let’s get this done,” Bazant wrote to Currie on Nov. 28.
Two days later, on the morning of Nov. 30, Bazant wrote: “He is fired up.”
When Currie didn’t respond, Bazant wrote: “Really need to hear from you.”
Doeren received a new deal from N.C. State later that day.
Currie was apparently either non-committal or just had no bloody clue what he was doing. Maybe both of those things. Via SEC Country’s Mark Griffith, here’s a snippet of an email from Currie to UT chancellor Beverly Davenport:
“I had every intention of being able to communicate and that we could still get a [Dave Doeren] deal done while I was traveling but without an immediate answer, the negative social media assaults against him and the media news of their negotiating with NCSU, I was concerned that I needed to be in position to meet with other candidate [sic] including Coach Leach, who was in LA recruiting.”
At that point, Currie had flown out west to meet with Leach, who was also ready to accept an offer from UT. But that also fell apart when Currie was relieved of his duties at the beginning of December.
All of this is fascinating—it not only sheds light on the degree to which Currie screwed up his coaching search, which is some haha-funny shit, but it also makes fairly clear that Dave Doeren was ready to make a move. We knew there was mutual interest based on how things went down at the time, but these texts paint Doeren as far more interested in the job than I might have otherwise guessed.
And there is the matter of Currie going totally radio silent on Doeren’s agent after he messaged in no uncertain terms that they wanted to get a deal done. It appears the social media backlash to Schiano, and to a lesser extent, the backlash against Doeren, led to waffling on Currie’s part, which is how he ended up on the west coast in a meeting with Mike Leach, and also, apparently, how Doeren ended up with a new deal in Raleigh.