College football is a weird and unique sport in that an average team can attract 100,000 people to its stadium on a fall Saturday to watch an average product. That really doesn’t happen anywhere …
College football is a weird and unique sport in that an average team can attract 100,000 people to its stadium on a fall Saturday to watch an average product.
That really doesn’t happen anywhere else, and it’s created quite the superiority complex around the country.
Take the University of Tennessee for example.
The Volunteers play in a stadium that seats over 102,000 people, and the school has one of the more passionate fanbases in the country.
But Tennessee hasn’t won a conference championship since 1998, and has won the SEC East division just three times since then.
It’s not Alabama, Auburn or Florida.
it’s not Ohio State, USC, or even Clemson.
Which brings me to the last weekend, when news leaked that Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie was finalizing a deal to make Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano its next head coach.
Schiano leads a Buckeye defense that is currently eighth in the country, and he once led Rutgers to six bowl games in seven years.
For reference, Rutgers has been to 10 total bowl games in its 148-year existence.
But Schiano wasn’t good enough for Tennessee fans, and they took to social media to throw a fit.
Shock-jock sports media personality and Tennessee alum Clay Travis tweeted this Sunday afternoon: “Only way to stop Greg Schiano hire is a massive social media revolt. Tag John Currie and tell him this hire is unacceptable. Deluge him now. Disastrous & unacceptable hire for Tennessee.”
Travis and the majority of angry Tennessee fans latched onto Schiano’s history at Penn State, where he coached for Joe Paterno during the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
Tennessee fans claimed he was part of the scandal and they wanted nothing to do with him, even though there is no proof linking Schiano to the abuse at Penn State.
But his mere association with Penn State was enough for Tennessee fans to pretend he wasn’t fit to be their next head coach.
That, of course, was a crock of you-know-what, considering the lack of evidence and the fact that Ohio State had no problem hiring him as its defensive coordinator last season.
Tennessee fans didn’t like Schiano’s 68-67 record at Rutgers (despite him being the most successful head coach in school history), and they formed a Twitter mob over the weekend.
And it worked.
Currie and Schiano backed away Sunday night and Tennessee was back at square one.
Then it got worse.
Currie was fired by the school later in the week, replaced by former head football coach Phillip Fulmer.
To recap, a fanbase who was unhappy with a coaching hire torpedoed the hire, trashed the coach’s reputation with no facts, then turned its attention to firing its athletic director.
Again, this is a fanbase that hasn’t seen a conference championship since Bill Clinton was in office, “Titanic” was still in movie theaters and the Spice Girls were on the radio.
But college football fans believe that support equals prestige, and Tennessee fans appear to be the biggest believers.
There was a reason Schiano was headed to Tennessee in the first place.
Big-name candidates like Chip Kelly, Jimbo Fisher, Dan Mullen and Scott Frost didn’t seem interested in the job, and for good reason.
Now a middle-of-the-road job has become the second-worst job in the SEC (sorry, Vanderbilt) because no coach with decent options is going to want to deal with a mob of delusional fans who just proved they can ruin a career or two when they don’t get their way.
Travis and the members of the Volunteer Social Media Mob got their way, but they should have demanded a little self-awareness instead..Former Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie. Photo credit: SI.com