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Candidates, Just in Case
Posted: Tuesday, June 20th, 2006, 7:44 PM
by Beano
Note: As Tony sometimes says “long time no talkie”. I apologize for my sporadic writings but I have been suffering from acute “blog block”. With July, the month that sports forgot, quickly approaching I make no promises but I hope to come to you more frequently. There is only one sure cure for my affliction. PADS POPPING

Paul Finebaum recently wrote a column where he disclosed that an SEC Athletic Director told him that no matter how successful his head coach he always maintains a list of possible candidates in the top desk drawer. Finebaum went on to project what a list such as the one mentioned above would look like for Auburn and Alabama.

He felt that out-of-work former head coaches Rick Neuheisal and Butch Davis would appear on both lists. He fills out Bama’s roll with current Louisville head man Bobby Petrino, and WVU’s Rich Rodriguez. Petrino he projects would be on Auburn’s radar screen joined by Tiger Offensive Coordinator Al Borges, Texas Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik and LSU Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

I personally hope that Mike Hamilton keeps such a list. Don’t get me wrong I am in no hurry to see Coach Fulmer exit stage left. On the contrary I hope he is able to weather the storm, restore Tennessee’s program to SEC Championship level, and leave on his own terms. Some disturbing numbers in his last seven full seasons however suggest otherwise. From 93-98 Coach Fulmer’s teams won 85% (62-11-1) of their games; from 99-05 that dropped to 70% (61-26). In the same time frame the Vols have fallen from 85% (39-7-1) in SEC games to 70% (39-17); from 67% (18-9-1) versus ranked teams to 45% (15-18) and from 42% (5-7-1) versus the Top-10 to 32% (6-13). These are alarming falloffs that would make me have my research done in case the 5-6 of last season WASN’T an anomaly.

If I were in Mike Hamilton’s position instead of emulating Santa Claus by giving raises to everyone who isn’t convicted of a felony I would be making a list and checking it twice. He has proven to be an accomplished talent evaluator and recruiter by successfully wooing Coach Pearl into the fold. Why mess with success? I would use the same measures that led to Pearlmania sweeping Big Orange Country. The next football coach at the University of Tennessee should meet the following criteria:

-Proven success at the Division 1 level

-An innovative offensive mind

-One who would consider the Tennessee job the best of his career

-One whose departure would devastate his current schools fan base

Going by those guidelines my “just in case” coaching list would read as follows:

1. Rich Rodriguez- WVU
2. Bobby Petrino- Louisville
3. Jeff Tedford-Cal
4. Gary Patterson- TCU
5. Randy Walker- Northwestern

Call me pessimistic and a prophet of doom if you like. I prefer to think of myself as proactive and prepared.

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