For weeks it seemed Tennessee was dead set on hiring on a former Vol to come back and run the mothership. The drama centered on David Blackburn, a former Tennessee student and administrator now running the athletics department at Chattanooga, or Phillip Fulmer, a sentimental choice with no practical experience but a long track record of pushing Big Orange on top of the SEC.
In the end, Tennessee hired a former Volunteer alright... but not Blackburn or Fulmer.
"It is a very exciting time for my family and me as we return to a place that remains very special to us," Currie said in a statement. "We spent 10 years in Knoxville prior to taking the job at K-State, and I appreciate Chancellor Davenport and the University of Tennessee for providing us this special opportunity. As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I know how much UT athletics means to the people in the state, and I look forward to serving all of the Big Orange Nation, its wonderful coaches, staff and student-athletes, for many years to come. We are excited to return to Rocky Top."
The news was first reported by Knoxville radio host Jimmy Hyams.
Currie was an administrator under Mike Hamilton from 1997-08, an era that ended poorly in Knoxville but coincides with Fulmer's best years as well. He left Tennessee to become the athletics director at Kansas State, where he helped bring Bill Snyder back to run the football program and oversaw major facilities projects to Bill Snyder Family Stadium and the construction of the new Vanier Complex.
His hiring also follows the path laid by Florida and Alabama (and others, to be sure) of pulling young ADs away from other Power 5 programs. (Florida pulled Scott Stricklin away from Florida and Alabama hired Greg Byrne away from Arizona.)
Currie will inherit a department headed by a football programs at a crossroads -- undoubtedly better than the doldrums of the Lane Kiffin-Derek Dooley days, but unable to get over the hump in a down SEC East. The basketball program is, barring a miracle, going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year under head coach Rick Barnes, and the women's basketball program has reached the second weekend of its NCAA Tournament all four years under head coach Holly Warlick but has ceded SEC supremacy to South Carolina.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.