KNOXVILLE – Louisville head coach Charlie Strong has reportedly emerged as a leading candidate for Tennessee’s open head-coaching position, though no deal is officially in place and Tennessee’s top officials will probably be in attendance at former coach Phillip Fulmer’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday night.
Volquest.com and ESPN.com have both mentioned Strong as a possible top candidate on Tuesday night.
ESPN.com called Strong the “front-runner” for the position.
Sources for Nooga.com have consistently mentioned Strong as a potential candidate for the Vols. He topped our Week 3 complete list of potential candidates.
The former defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida is in his third year as the head coach at Louisville where he’s compiled a 24-14 overall record. The Cardinals finished 2012 as the champions of the Big East with a 10-2 record and will play in the Sugar Bowl against Florida on Jan. 2.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora are other names who have emerged as potential finalists for the Vols.
It would be unlikely, though not impossible, that Tennessee would make any sort of formal announcement on the same night of Fulmer’s induction.
Auburn and Arkansas make hires: Tennessee is the last SEC school with a vacant head-coaching position after Arkansas hired former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Auburn hired Arkansas head coach Gus Malzahn on Tuesday.
Bielema, who some thought could be a darkhorse candidate for Tennessee, led Wisconsin to its third selection to the Rose Bowl this season after defeating Nebraska in the Big 10 Championship Game on Saturday.
Malzahn is returning to Auburn after a three-year stint as its offensive coordinator from 2009-11. He developed Heisman-wining quarterback Cam Newton in 2010 and helped lead the Tigers to the BCS National Championship in that season.
“Gus Malzahn is a proven winner,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. “He is without question one of the brightest minds in college football and he has won everywhere he has been. Coach Malzahn knows what it takes to build a championship program in the Southeastern Conference.”
What do those hires mean for Tennessee?
Both names at one point or another were mentioned in some report involving Tennessee, but neither was considered to be among the top selections for the Vols.
Gundy and Strong had both been reported as possibilities for either school, meaning they are both still available as potential candidates for Tennessee.