In the latest signal of just how toxic the situation in Knoxville has become, Tennessee was rejected by N.C. State’s Dave Doeren on Thursday. Doeren will instead stay in Raleigh, where he will remain on shaky ground with N.C. State administrators.
UT athletics director John Currie formally offered Doeren the Tennessee job late Wednesday, after negotiations between Louisville’s Jeff Brohm and the Vols broke down. Currie quickly pivoted to Doeren, who had been rumored as a potential candidate for the job, and who had previously reached out to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State about their job openings.
Doeren, who was on the hot seat coming into the 2017 season and who, according to ACCSports.com, has been embroiled in rocky contract negotiations with N.C. State, was close to taking the Ole Miss job over the weekend, but the Rebels ultimately decided to take the interim tag off Matt Luke. Doeren reportedly reached out to Mississippi State after Dan Mullen was hired by Florida. The Bulldogs opted to hire Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Morehead.
The move to Tennessee seemed like a no-brainer for Doeren, but UT fans made it clear that they were opposed to the hire. As AllThingsVol wrote Wednesday, a radio poll found 84 percent of UT fans opposed to the hire, while a similarly unscientific messageboard poll on VolNation.com found 97 percent opposed. Fans even direct-tweeted Doeren to offer their opinion that he should stay in Raleigh.
Doeren’s Wolfpack team was ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation at one point this season, after upset wins over Florida State and Louisville, but lost three of their last five games to finish the season 8-4. Doeren’s five-year record in Raleigh is 33-30, with a 15-25 record in ACC play. Critics have pointed out that his resume in five seasons at N.C. State is similar to Butch Jones’ resume in five seasons at Tennessee.
Prior to making the move to N.C. State, Doeren won back-to-back MAC championships at Northern Illinois, with records of 11-3 and 12-2. However, as Knoxville News Sentinel columnist John Adams pointed out Thursday morning, Jones also won MAC championships. And, like Jones, Doeren took over a Northern Illinois team that had been built up by his predecessor.
The Doeren rejection is the latest embarrassment for the embattled UT athletics director. Currie appeared to have a deal with Brohm on Wednesday, but chancellor Beverly Davenport refused to sign off on the preliminary offer, and Brohm reportedly rejected a revised offer by Currie. A day earlier, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy turned down a six-year, $42 million offer from Tennessee, one day after Duke’s David Cutcliffe said “no thanks.” On Sunday, Tennessee was close to a deal with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano before fan outrage forced Currie to renege on a memorandum of understanding that had already been signed.