College football notes: Strong gone, Vols' search goes on

UT's misfires a hit on twitter

December 7, 2012 

Tennessee's coaching search is nearly three weeks old, and the Volunteers still haven't found someone to accept the challenge of turning this program around.

Tennessee contacted ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, but it was announced Nov. 30 that the former Super Bowl-winning coach wasn't interested. The Volunteers then pursued Charlie Strong, who said Thursday he had turned down their offer and would stay at Louisville.

Of the four Southeastern Conference schools to make coaching changes, only Tennessee hasn't filled its vacancy. Athletic Director Dave Hart had indicated that head coaching experience was "critically important" and that he wanted a coach who "knows the difficulty of climbing the ladder in the SEC."

This search's length has subjected Tennessee to some unwanted national attention. The hashtag "TurnedDownTennessee" was trending on Twitter late Wednesday night.

But a long search sometimes pays off.

Vanderbilt's James Franklin was hired about three weeks after the firing of Robbie Caldwell. Nick Saban took over Alabama's program about five weeks after the firing of Mike Shula. Hart can only hope his search turns out equally well.

Around the nation

Cal: Sonny Dykes was formally introduced as its new head coach Thursday, replacing the fired Jeff Tedford after three years at Louisiana Tech. Dykes, who coached under Hal Mumme at Kentucky, had been mentioned as a possible successor to Joker Phillips at Kentucky.

Auburn: Former Southern Miss coach Ellis Johnson was hired as defensive coordinator.

Johnson was fired after Southern Miss went 0-12 in his lone season, but he has an impressive track record running SEC defenses.

Colorado: Butch Jones has reportedly rejected an offer to become the Buffaloes' next coach. But Jones hasn't publicly revealed his decision to stay at the University of Cincinnati.

Jones, 44, is a hot candidate with a 50-27 record as a head coach, and might be in line for much better opportunities.

Wisconsin: Badgers fan favorite and former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst won't be a candidate for the head coaching job.

"I wouldn't think it would be right for him to leave (Pittsburgh) after one year," Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said. "I don't think it would be appropriate for me to hire him back after I asked someone to do me a favor and help him get that job. So Paul's going to stay at Pitt."

Alvarez, meanwhile, will return to the sidelines for a one-game gig on New Year's Day against Stanford after Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas this week.

Texas: President Bill Powers gave Coach Mack Brown his "full support" on Thursday, saying Brown will remain the Longhorns head coach after an 8-4 regular season and missing a BCS bowl for the third consecutive year.

Awards: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Maxwell Award on Thursday, given to the nation's most outstanding player. Saturday, he will try to become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman Trophy.

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