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Via Twitter this morning, Volquest.com, which first put Larry Fedora's name out there as a possible candidate for the Tennessee job is now saying the UNC coach is not interested in the job. I think that means this journey of rumors and speculation has come full circle and barring any other news coming out . Or as the folks at Inside Carolina so aptly put it.
So to sum things up: The website that started the Fedora-UT rumors is apparently now saying that Fedora is not interested in the UT job.— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) December 6, 2012
So unless something else pops up unexpectedly we can all move on. However feel free to continue to laugh at the Tennessee coaching search which is a full blown dumpster fire at this point.
Two late-breaking rumors on Twitter to make sure you don't sleep well tonight. First, Pete Thamel is reporting that Charlie Strong was offered the Tennessee job and declined it, choosing to remain at Louisville for a considerable bump in salary. With both Strong and Gundy having turned down the Volunteer job, Larry Fedora is now the last of the three rumored candidates still in the running.
Which means it's an excellent time to mention that Harold Gutmann, reporter for the Herald-Sun, talked to Eric Ebron and Tim Scott at tonight's UNC women's basketball game. Neither have talked to Fedora, but there is a team meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. It was scheduled long before Coaching Carousel Drama consumed all of our lives, but we should still know something by then.
My personal opinion, since I've yet to weigh in on the blog, is that Tennessee is going to be a higher-profile job than UNC, and Carolina won't be able to match the money. But the job might not fit in with Fedora's career plan, which if I had to hazard a guess would be geared for a gig in Texas or Oklahoma, if anywhere. Still, I can't blame the man for entertaining an offer from a school like Tennessee, even after only one year in Chapel Hill.
Inside Carolina spoke with UNC commit Jordan Fieulleteau who stated he had spoken to Larry Fedora and the rumors concerning Tennessee's interest in the Tar Heel head coach were not true.
“I asked him about the Tennessee situation, because I wanted to make sure it was all rumors because he’s the coach of the school I committed to,” Fieulleteau said. “He said ‘Yeah, it’s all rumors. Don’t believe it.’ He said he didn’t even know how the rumors got started. He was just saying I don’t have anything to worry about, because he’s staying at UNC.
“I talked to him on Saturday, too, because I was there for the state championship game. He said he wasn’t going anywhere [and] he plans on ending his career at UNC.”
As with everything that has come out in the last 48 hours, take it for what it is worth. Especially given the two times coaches are probably the least honest is when they are talking to recruits or involved in a coaching search. Here we have both happening at the same time so I would take this with a grain of salt. The one caveat is this sort of thing could create nasty backlash since the same recruit also told Andrew Carter:
He's a man of his word. You can’t just talk to a kid ... and then go back on your word. I’m 100 percent confident
If Fedora were to renege on this there would be a serious price to pay in terms of his reputation. Is that enough of a caveat to believe Fedora was truthful with Fieulleteau? Maybe, maybe not. And while a formal denial would not end all speculation(see the above provision about coaching searches and the truth) it would calm the waters a bit.
UNC athletic director has released a statement to address the rumors surrounding coach Larry Fedora.
This time each year there are a number of coaching vacancies in college football and yesterday several rumors included speculation about our own football coach Larry Fedora. Neither Coach Fedora nor I are going to address rumors about individual jobs that are bound to happen each year.
It's been my policy since I have been a director of athletics not to comment or engage in discussions regarding a coach's job until such time that there is a change in a coach's employment status. Speculation about the future employment status of a head coach can be detrimental to an athletic program.
I frequently communicate with our head coaches about what they need to be successful at North Carolina.
Whether a coach is highly successful or under inordinate pressure it has been my policy to keep those conversations confidential and I will continue my policy to not engage in any public discussion or speculation regarding employment. We work together to provide the best opportunities for our coaches and student-athletes.
So UNC's stance is commenting on rumors is detrimental to the athletic program which might make sense if those same rumors weren't complicating things on the recruiting front. That makes this statement from Cunningham more or less an attempt to calm the fan base regardless of the fact it doesn't really address the issue at hand.
Which leads to a couple of logical conclusions. The first is, UNC cannot deny the rumors because they are either true or simply cannot be refuted. Secondly, Fedora is interested in the Tennessee job, wants to see how it will play out and refuses to put himself in a PR death trap by issuing a denial he may have to renege on. Granted that comes with a price but it seems to be one he's willing to pay.
There are various reports now that Mike Gundy is opting to stay at Oklahoma State. Earlier today, CBS Sports Bruce Feldman reported an offer had been extended to Gundy however Knoxville radio host Jimmy Hyams has said Gundy is no longer a candidate. Update: ESPN is reporting the same. The attention of the UT search then shifted back to Louisville's Charlie Strong but according to SB Nation blog Card Chronicle, Strong is working with the Cardinals on a contract extension which would effectively take him off the table.
If Gundy and Strong are both off the table, then Fedora becomes Tennessee's prime target.
CBS Sports Bruce Feldman is reporting via Twitter that Tennessee has offered it's head coaching job to Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy.
Since Mike Gundy appears to have an offer in hand that sets up three potential scenarios as it pertains to Larry Fedora.
Scenario #1: Gundy turns down the job and Louisville's Charlie Strong takes it. At this stage I am not sure how likely this is since Strong was reported to be the leader until late last night when there was increasing chatter that he could end up staying in Louisville.
Scenario #2: Gundy turns down the job. Strong is no longer a candidate which would likely mean an offer to Fedora assuming he didn't frighten Volunteer AD Dave Hart too much.
Scenario #3: Gundy takes the job and creates a vacancy at Oklahoma State. That is probably a more enticing job than Tennessee since Fedora was the offensive coordinator there under Gundy for three years. It would be very easy for Fedora to take over a program already running his system with the proper personnel and recruiting template in place.
Of course there is a fourth scenario which has UT hiring someone else not mentioned above the same way Arkansas hired Bret Bielema out the blue. Of the three aforementioned possibilities, the third is the most concerning since Oklahoma State would be a nice fit for Fedora given he spent three years there as an assistant coach.
As always, stay tuned.
According to our own SB Nation's Steven Godfrey, Larry Fedora interviewed with Tennessee on Tuesday evening.
North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora is a serious candidate to become the next head coach at the University of Tennessee, as multiple sources have confirmed the first-year Tar Heels head coach interviewed with the Volunteers in New York City late Tuesday.
Assuming this is true and based on what else has gone on with this search, this probably represents a foray beyond Fedora simply doing it for experience. Meanwhile ESPN has reported that Louisville's Charlie Strong tops Tennessee's list so it will be interesting to see what Fedora is doing fits with that news. It could signal that Strong is out of the picture and the focus of the search is on Fedora. Whatever the case, having your head coach interview for an SEC job after only one season creates a situation Bubba Cunningham could certainly do without.
After a day of speculation and rumors, no credible report has been published that confirms the first rumblings from this morning that Larry Fedora would interview with Tennessee AD Dave Hart. Since this is a coaching search and the SEC is involved,rumors fly about freely carries on the great social media river and take a life of their own.
It should be noted that Fedora's policy on coaching search rumors is the same as his policy on injury news. He doesn't talk about them. Ever. As Inside Carolina points out that has the effect of keeping him above the fray of answering every rumor that is reported. On the other hand there is no denial to shut down speculation and put the fan base at ease. Then again, does anyone really believe such denials? Haven't we all been conditioned, as cynical that might be, to put zero stock in a coach when he issues a non-denial denial? Fedora is simply not playing that game.
Meanwhile in other coaching searches, Bret Bielema is leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas and Gus Malzahn is heading back to Auburn after a year at Arkansas State. That means Wisconsin is now open along with Tennessee. In the case of the latter, Louisville's Charlie Strong and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy are said to be the top two choices. If it is Gundy then that actually creates a bigger problem for UNC than the Tennessee job presents. Gundy's departure would open up the Oklahoma State job where Fedora was offensive coordinator from 2005-2007. Since the offensive system and personnel would already be in place, Fedora could easily slide into the job if they come calling.
Larry Fedora has not interviewed for the UT job nor does he have one scheduled as of 1:55 pm today, source close to situation said.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) December 4, 2012
Jimmy Hyams is a radio host in Knoxville who was interviewed by Mark Thomas & Mike Maniscalco this morning on 620 the Buzz. During that interview Hyams said he thought the UT search would come down to either Charlie Strong or Larry Fedora. This is not a repudiation of that assertion but does call into doubt reports from earlier in the day that Fedora was in contact with Tennessee.
ACC Now is reporting that according to a source at UNC, Tennessee has not contacted the university asking for permission to speak with Fedora.
In this day and age, schools may or may not seek permission and in fact a lot of informal back channel chatter goes on before a formal interview happens. Whether or not UNC and Tennessee have been in contact with each other over Fedora is over little consequence.