CFB notebook: Tennessee AD defends Schiano vetting process

Nov 28, 2017 - 12:07 AM Tennessee athletic director John Currie on Monday defended the coaching search and vetting of leading candidate Greg Schiano, a day after the Volunteers backed out of the hiring agreement following a public backlash and campus protests.

The Vols reportedly had a deal in place with the Ohio State defensive coordinator on Sunday morning, but it fell through by the end of the day after the university heard from the fan base, state representatives and local business owners.

"We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions," Currie said in the statement Monday. "He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures."

Currie's statement did not give an explanation of why the potential deal collapsed Sunday night. The outcry stemmed from Schiano's time on the staff at Penn State in the early 1990s, with fans expressing outrage with his alleged connection to convicted child sexual abuser Jerry Sandusky. Schiano spent five seasons at Penn State, four as the defensive backs coach on the staff with Sandusky, who was defensive coordinator.

Schiano went 68-67 over 11 seasons at Rutgers after taking over one of the worst programs in the country. He left for the NFL following the 2011 season and was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was fired after two seasons with an 11-21 record.

--Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who left Saturday's game in the third quarter with a knee injury, is probable to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, coach Urban Meyer said.

The Buckeyes (10-2) play Wisconsin (12-0) on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in Indianapolis.

Barrett said he was hit on the right knee, perhaps by a photographer, while on a crowded sideline before Saturday's game at Michigan. That aggravated a meniscus injury that he has been playing through, but the knee locked up in the second half and he was unable to continue.

As for Barrett's potential mobility on Saturday, Meyer said, "It's too early to tell. That's what this week's for. But those are all things we've taken into consideration."

--Central Florida head coach Scott Frost continues to be hit with questions about Nebraska's open job as he prepares his undefeated and 15th-ranked team for the American Athletic Conference championship game against No. 20 Memphis on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

Frost declined to offer any definitive statements about his future as the speculation runs rampant that he will be become the next head football coach at his alma mater.

"I'd be hurt if Nebraska wasn't interested in me," Frost said during a news conference to preview UCF's appearance in the AAC title game. "We're undefeated and I'm from there. When you win, a lot of people are interested in you. That doesn't matter. What matters are these players and what they've accomplished and they deserve the focus to be on them and not me."

Sources told ESPN's Mark Schlabach that the 42-year-old Frost met with Florida officials more than a week ago to discuss the Gators' vacancy, but he declined to meet again this past weekend. Florida officials were convinced Frost was taking the Nebraska job, so they moved on to Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, who was named the Gators' new coach Sunday.

--Rice fired football coach David Bailiff after 11 seasons with the Owls.

Rice finished 1-11 overall and 1-7 in Conference USA this season, only winning the second game against winless UTEP.

"We have made the decision to part ways with coach David Bailiff after 11 seasons," Rice athletic director Joe Karlgaard told KRIV-TV in Houston. "It's excruciating, and that's because of the man that David Bailiff is. He's a high-character man. He's led our program with integrity. Our student athletes represent the institution extraordinarily well. Our football alumni are involved. David graduates the kids."

Bailiff was Rice's coach since 2007, going 57-80 overall. His best seasons were 10-3 in 2008 and 10-4 in 2013, being named the Conference USA coach of the year those years. He led the Owls to their first outright conference championship in 56 years in 2013. However, Bailiff's teams were just 4-20 the past two years, ending his tenure at Rice with a 30-14 loss to North Texas on Saturday.

--Chad Lunsford, who was named Georgia Southern's interim head football coach during the season, has accepted the full-time position, the school announced.

Lunsford went 2-3 as the interim coach, including wins in the past two weeks -- 52-0 over South Alabama and 34-24 at Louisiana. The Eagles (2-9, 2-5 Sun Belt) finish their season Saturday at Coastal Carolina.

"The search committee went through an extensive process and evaluated a number of candidates nationwide," athletic director Tom Kleinlein said in a statement. "In the end, it was hard to ignore the progress the team has made under Coach Lunsford both on and off the field."

The school fired coach Tyson Summers after an 0-6 start dropped his record to 5-13 in a year and a half at the school. Lunsford, 40, is in his ninth season at Georgia Southern and fifth in his current stint.

--Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams, one of the top-rated tackle prospects in the country, has declared for the NFL Draft and will skip the team's bowl game, he announced.

Williams is rated the No. 19 overall prospect by, with plenty of room to move up during postseason workouts.

Williams missed much of this season after suffering a knee injury (torn meniscus and sprained MCL and ACL) on Sept. 16 at USC. He opted for rest and rehab, rather than surgery, and came back for the team's final two games.

"My family and I have decided it is my best interest to forgo the bowl game and my senior season to begin preparing for my professional football career," Williams said in a statement. "One of the reasons I worked so hard to come back from my injury was to help the team reach its goal of playing in a bowl game, and I'm proud we were able to accomplish that."

--BYU fired offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, coach Kalani Sitake announced.

Detmer, who won the 1990 Heisman Trophy with the Cougars, completed his second season with the team. The 50-year-old joined Sitake's staff after serving six years as the head coach at a private high school in Austin, Texas.

BYU, which finished 4-9 this season, scored only 221 points and ranks 118th in total offense among 129 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Detmer is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after playing for the Cougars from 1987 to 1991 and passing for 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns. Detmer went on to play in the NFL from 1992 to 2005 for six teams before becoming the coach at St. Andrews Episcopal School in 2009.

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