Gov. Haslam weighs in on UT coaching search debacle - WSMV News 4

Gov. Haslam weighs in on UT coaching search debacle

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The University of Tennessee backed out of hiring Greg Schiano as the new head football coach. (WSMV) The University of Tennessee backed out of hiring Greg Schiano as the new head football coach. (WSMV)

The University of Tennessee is back to the drawing board in the search for its fifth head football coach in the last decade.

This comes after the university backed out last minute from hiring current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. The firestorm that erupted on social media and spread across the UT campus was enough to torpedo the deal that was reportedly in its final stages.

Part of that online outcry included several state lawmakers. Many were imploring Gov. Bill Haslam to get involved in stopping the Schiano hire.

Gov. Haslam believes many rushed to judgment when it came to Schiano’s ties to Penn State and convicted serial rapist Jerry Sandusky.

“A governor doesn't need to be picking football coaches,” Haslam said.

At the Nashville Rotary Club on Monday, Haslam told those in attendance he received more than 100 text messages regarding news that Schiano would be Tennessee's next football coach.

“I don't think anybody looks at the way everything came down yesterday and says that's the way it should happen," Haslam said.

In Columbus, OH, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer stood at the podium, and stood behind his defensive coordinator.

“He’s an elite person, father, husband, friend and elite football coach. I stand by my coach. I just don't know enough and it's not fair to my players to comment more than that,” Meyer said.

Lawmakers across the state of Tennessee were not so kind to Schiano.

Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, said she sent a group text to 73 members of the state legislator saying they contacted university president Joe DiPietro, university trustees and Gov. Haslam objecting to the hiring.

Lynn admitted, there are inconsistencies when it comes to Schiano's reported ties convicted serial rapist Jerry Sandusky.

That alone gave Haslam pause.

“In today's social media world, where there are no editors to stop and say, ‘Is that true?’ You could have a tsunami before anyone has said, ‘What are the facts here?’” Haslam said.

Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, tweeted Sunday, "@UTKnoxville, if you hire (Schiano), the backlash will be insurmountable and devastating the university and the state."

Faison stood by the comments on Monday.

“There was a rush to judgment because the University of Tennessee was rushing to do something that 99 percent of the fan base was against,” he said. “This was not a mob rule or lynching, or hurt him. What we were wanting to do was say 'We don't want him.’”

When it comes to the decision to hire Schiano, Gov. Bill Haslam was quick to shoot down any notion his brother and major UT booster Jimmy Haslam played a part.

As for who "should" be coach of the Vols, Gov. Haslam said, “I want someone who is going to be really good, period. UT football, they got a 105,000-seat stadium they need to fill up on Saturdays, and it's one of the engines of the economy over in east Tennessee, and they can't be 4-8."

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