After meeting Leach, Tennessee search takes another turn
Just when it seemed Tennessee’s tumultuous coaching search might be heading toward a resolution involving Washington State coach Mike Leach, there is again nothing but uncertainty for the Volunteers.
Amid multiple reports Tennessee athletic director John Currie has been forced out, the school has scheduled a news conference for Friday afternoon with Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
Leach met with Currie on Thursday in Los Angeles to discuss the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side intended to make the meeting public.
Leach flew back to Pullman, Washington, when the meeting was done. No deal was completed, the person said.
In a text message to the AP early Friday, Leach said: “Nothing to report. I will be in NY Sunday.”
The College Football Hall of Fame banquet takes place in Manhattan next week and typically draws dozens of coaches and athletic administrators to the city, along with agents. Frequently, it is a setting where meetings about coaching jobs take place.
Leach, 56, has been at Washington State for six years and is 38-37, but 26-12 the last three seasons, including 19-8 in the Pac-12. Previously, he coached 10 seasons at Texas Tech and went 84-43.
Tennessee fired Butch Jones earlier this month and was close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano last Sunday, but the deal fell through due to backlash from Vols fans and supporters stemming from an unproven claim in court documents that Schiano might have known about Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of boys while Schiano was an assistant at Penn State. Schiano has denied the claim.
The Volunteers’ search has since stumbled forward rather publicly. There were reports of contact with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm. Earlier Thursday, North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren agreed to a contract extension after he had discussions with Tennessee .
Another person familiar with the meeting told the AP that Currie flew from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Los Angeles on Thursday, where he met one-on-one with Leach. Currie flew back to Knoxville after the meeting.
One of college football’s more unusual characters, Leach’s interests is wide-ranging — he co-authored a book about Native American leader Geronimo — and he is quick to go off on subjects far removed from football.
He has never been a head coach at a place where the expectations are as high and the scrutiny is as intense as Tennessee. He has also been one of the most consistent winners in college football over the last 17 years and would likely help Currie salvage a search that has had Volunteers fans calling for his job.