In the days after his Greg Schiano hiring publicly and dramatically fell apart, Tennessee AD John Currie started scrambling. As FootballScoop reported at the time, Currie turned his attention toward Purdue's Jeff Brohm, then moved on to NC State's Dave Doeren.
And thanks to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, we now know how close Tennessee came to hiring Doeren. Or perhaps how close Doeren came to taking the Tennessee job. The Sentinel got its hands on Currie's correspondence over his final days as the Tennessee AD through an open records request.
Currie flew to North Carolina to meet with the Doeren camp, then left for California to meet with Mike Leach.
While hustling to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, Currie went off the grid. He stopped communicating with his superiors to the point where they apparently legitimately worried about his safety. He finally emailed Tennessee's chancellor, president and general counsel he had met with Doeren and, though he hadn't offered him anything, "he told me he would take the job if offered."
UT chancellor Beverly Davenport answered that email, ordering Currie back to Knoxville.
"I trust you are on your way back to Knoxville as I requested in my text message this afternoon. This morning, we tried for six hours to contact you about the state of the search. After finally connecting, you informed me that you were in California heading into a meeting with Mike Leach. This was the first I had heard of this meeting. Because of the confusion from earlier in the day with the other candidate (Doeren), I asked you not to pursue any discussions about employment with any additional candidates."
All the while, Doeren's agent Jordan Bazant joined the Tennessee brass in trying to hunt Currie down. Check out this exchange:
"Let's get this done," Bazant wrote to Currie on Nov. 28.
Two days later, on the morning of Nov. 30, Bazant wrote: "He is fired up."
When Currie didn't respond, Bazant wrote: "Really need to hear from you."
Doeren then took the hint and signed an extension at NC State. When the searched turned to Leach, it did so in a very Leach-ian way. The coach texted Currie, per WBIR, "Text whenever you're ready. I'm on the bike path by the water." But Leach also seemed to sense the pitchforks coming after Currie, texting, "I hope you come out of this OK and we can work together."
(Oh, and at some point interim head coach Brady Hoke threw his name in the hat, per Rocky Top Insider, texting Currie: “JOHN I HOPE YOU DO KNOW I WOULD LIKE TO BE YOUR HEAD FOOTBALL COACH I DO KNOW THE ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AT TENNESSEE!”)
Currie answered Davenport's email, implying that Doeren in fact may have signed a Tennessee offer if not for a WiFi outage on Currie's Delta flight. From 247Sports:
I have been trying to call for 45 minutes to discuss situation but I understand from the text that I have been instructed to end my visit with Coach Leach and return to Knoxville. I am not sure I can get a flight tonight but I will head to the airport as soon as I talk to [him] and let him know.
Although I have not offered the job of discussed terms with him, he told me that he would take the job if offered. Matthew (Scoggins) know how to follow up with his agent Gary O’Hagan. He would make an excellent choice.
I am very sorry for the stress I caused by the Wifi outage on the Delta flight. I had every intention of being able to communicate and that we could still get (Dave Doeren) deal done while I was traveling but without an immediate answer, the negative social media assaults against him and and the media news of their negotiating with NCSU, I was concerned that I needed to be in position to meet with other candidate including Coach Leach who’s (sic) was in LA recruiting. This presented an opportunity for a quick meeting, as there are direct flights from RDU.
I apologize to all involved.
It was at this point the Tennessee brass stepped in to take the search away from Currie. Here's an exchange from Tennessee general counsel Matthew Scoggins to Leach's agent Gary O'Hagan:
Scoggins: “This is Matthew Scoggins at UT. Sorry I’ve been in meeting and still am. We are going to take a couple of days and regroup on our search. It has nothing to do with Coach Leach. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.”
O’Hagan: “Thanks Matt, the people we worked with the past two days who are associated with the Vols search were professional and thorough. We negotiated earnestly and in good faith and feel we had reached and agreed to a deal. We hope that UT sees the tremendous value in having Mike Leach as their football coach. He is disciplined and innovate, attributes which has led to great success on the field and in the classroom.”
As we know, Currie was fired on Dec. 1, and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was hired by Phillip Fulmer on Dec. 7.