Eight months to the day that John Currie began his role as athletic director at Tennessee, his tenure with the Vols has come to an end -- or, at least the beginning of the end. Currie, who has been under fire recently from the administration and fan base while searching for new head football coach, was suspended by the university on Friday. However, Currie's time as the AD in Knoxville is clearly dwindling.
Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman reported earlier Friday that a potential coaching deal between Tennessee and Washington State's Mike Leach became complicated due to "a lot of in-fighting, finger-pointing and back-stabbing taking place amongst Tennessee brass" with "a growing faction at Tennessee pushing to get Currie removed."
Among those fighting with Currie was former Vols head coach Phil Fulmer, according to Feldman, who some say wants to take over as athletic director. Currie was chosen over Fulmer, among others, when Tennessee hired him in February. Brett McMurphy also reports that the plan to hire Leach was sabotaged and that Fulmer is attempting to install himself as Currie's replacement.
Currie's tenure in Knoxville came under fire in the wake of Tennessee's coaching search. While fans in Knoxville were fine with Currie's decision to fire Butch Jones, the process he's undertaken to replace him has been disastrous at best. When word leaked that Tennessee was close to hiring former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, fans revolted by blasting the hire for both football reasons and Schiano's connection -- however tenuous -- to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. After Tennessee backed off Schiano, Currie's coaching search has been a non-stop carousel of coaches having their names floated for a few hours before eventually turning the job down. Names like Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, NC State's Dave Doeren, Purdue's Jeff Brohm and former Tennessee offensive coordinator and current Duke coach David Cutcliffe have been floated as possibilities only to deny interest, or turn down the job.
Currie, who has a Master's degree from Tennessee, was hired by the school in February 2017 after spending the previous eight seasons as athletic director at Kansas State.