Report: Schiano press conference canceled

Chris Low is reporting that the deal between Tennessee and Greg Schiano is now officially not going to happen:

Earlier, Jimmy Hyams reported that there was indeed a press conference scheduled for 9:00 p.m. this evening to announce Tennessee’s hiring of Greg Schiano, but that it had been canceled due to the unprecedented fan backlash this afternoon:

At the time of the tweet, it was unclear whether the press conference was merely re-scheduled or canceled for good. Some reports say that it was Schiano who is balking due to the backlash and that the school still had the offer on the table.

It was early this afternoon that USA Today’s Dan Wolken first reported that Tennessee was finalizing a deal with Schiano. Schiano, who’s currently the defensive coordinator for Ohio State, was an assistant at Penn State while Jerry Sandusky was there, and, according to sworn testimony from former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary, was aware of Sandusky’s improper behavior with young boys. Based on that report from last July, fans on social media immediately voiced their displeasure and began ringing the bell to get the attention of others.

Fans painted The Rock in protest and then gathered on campus for an actual protest. At least one 4-star recruit de-committed. Tennessee state representatives then began to object to the hire on social media as well, and some reached out directly to the athletic department. Even the White House Press Secretary ended up weighing in:

As the fervor grew, word came that Schiano was having second thoughts due to the backlash:

And now word comes from Low and others that the deal is in fact dead.

It is good to hear that it was Tennessee’s decision to back out of the Memorandum of Understanding. For too long today, it seemed that they were clearly not concerned about what fans think. No athletic department should abdicate any measure of authority to fans, but ignoring the customer is idiotic. There is no football program without fans. Sure, there will always be some, and many others will eventually forgive and forget, but intentionally plowing forward knowing that you’re alienating a huge percentage of your paying customer base is just dumb. And if he had been hired, he would have started with even less patience and even more scrutiny than most new head coaches.

So, where does Tennessee go from here? If it’s true that Tennessee did significant damage today to its ability to lure a coach to Knoxville, then that’s not the fault of the fan base, not today. This was a huge misstep by John Currie, and he never should have put the fan base in the position of having to rally to resist the hire. This one’s on him, not the fans, and not anticipating the fan reaction was a huge blind spot that will be a concern going forward.

If he wasn’t before, Currie better be listening now. He has to get this one right, and today, he was only hours away from doing the exact opposite of that.

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Isaac Bishop
Isaac Bishop

The blows keep coming for Currie. Now Schiano wants compensation for the broken deal.

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples

A number of lawyers have said that a MOU is designed to be non-binding, and they cannot see how there could be any compensation or damages associated with it. Other rumors have said that Schiano was actually locked in a few weeks ago, and that today was just a formality. And other rumors are throwing around a $20 million figure. (!!) And finally, another rumor said that Currie said that he (Currie) had never heard anything about the PSU accusations. If true, that is amazing incompetence, since they were unsealed last year. (Google is your friend.) Just a complete meltdown… Read more »