Tennessee AD Defends Greg Schiano Amid Backlash In Puzzling Statement

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Tennessee’s stance on Greg Schiano is getting murkier by the minute.

The Volunteers were set to announce Schiano as their next head football coach Sunday but reportedly backed out of their agreement at the last second, in apparent response to on-campus protests and backlash on social media over Schiano’s expected hire.

So, what really went down? Tennessee athletic director John Currie attempted to clarify his school deciding not to hire Schiano in a statement Monday.

Currie’s statement is puzzling on a few levels. Much of fans’ outcry over Schiano’s potential hire was related to his alleged failure to report Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse while he was an assistant at Penn State. Currie defended Schiano in that regard, insisting Tennessee “carefully interviewed and vetted” the current Ohio State defensive coordinator and “carefully reviewed” his alleged involvement in the Sandusky scandal, even contacting Ohio State about its inquiry of the case.

Currie also touted Schiano as an “outstanding leader” who “cares deeply about his student-athletes.” That begs the obvious question: Why didn’t Tennessee hire him?

Schiano doesn’t have a stellar track record as a coach — he went 68-67 over 11 seasons at Rutgers and 11-21 in two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — so perhaps the Vols got cold feet on that front. But the fact that Tennessee had an agreement in place to sign him suggests the school was willing to look past that, and that its change of heart mainly was a reaction to protests over his role in the Sandusky scandal — which Currie essentially absolved Schiano of in Monday’s statement.

Currie’s words likely are an attempt to help Schiano save face amid an ugly 24 hours, but they certainly don’t make Tennessee look any better in this situation.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Calvin Mattheis/Knoxville News Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

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