John Currie Nov 12, 2017; Knoxville, TN, USA; University of Tennessee athletic director John Currie speaks during a press conference announcing the firing of head football coach Butch Jones. Mandatory Credit: Wade Payne/Knoxville News Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

When a NCAA coach is fired, or rumored to be fired, or even on the hot seat, the quest for a replacement begins, and we see everyone from boosters to media to athletes to fans providing opinions and reports on who’s up next. There have always been some unhinged opinions and some strange moves in coaching searches, but thanks to social media, flight tracking, records requests and more, the weirder aspects of these searches are perhaps coming to the fore more than ever these days, especially in searches that drag on for a while.

The latest and greatest example comes from Pitt basketball, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Craig Meyer:

Now, those are just people commenting to a reporter, and not necessarily people with any level of pull whatsoever (hopefully at least, if their level of understanding of college basketball is recommending a long-deceased coach), but that does help illustrate some of the absurdity out there. And it turned into a nice punchline around Pitt’s ongoing search, at least:

But this is far from the only odd suggestion out there. Staying with Pitt for the moment, some are going down the old route of “media analyst who used to coach,” but citing some who haven’t coached in a long time:

From another coaching search, the recent release of texts and emails from former Tennessee athletic director John Currie (seen above) during the Volunteers’ quest this November to replace Butch Jones (which saw Greg Schiano hired and then dumped after social media backlash, and Currie himself eventually axed) has much, much more in the way of insanity. One particular highlight comes from Currie’s texts with USA Today’s Dan Wolken about the Schiano hire:

Oh, and former Michigan coach Brady Hoke apparently texted Currie (in all caps!) to lobby for the job:

In terms of the actual efforts from Currie to land a new coach, there are plenty of crazy details there too, including communications between him and Tennessee president Joe DiPietro and chancellor Beverly Davenport (which also included declined calls from the Tennessee board vice-chair and midnight texts from a Waffle House) breaking down over everything from missed calls to Mass to aerial WiFi issues:

“Have a tentative deal in place awaiting word from you/Prez,” Currie wrote to Davenport, not clarifying whether he meant [Greg] Schiano or [Dan] Mullen. “Will be up early. Call whenever. Thank you”

He texted again at 5:58 a.m., then again at 7:03 a.m. Just checking in at first. Looking for any word from DiPietro later.

Davenport: “(DiPietro) asked to talk at 10. I’m trying to get him now.”

The day continued, with Mullen eventually being hired by Florida. Currie kept looking for updates. Davenport didn’t have any.

Davenport: “Joe (DiPietro) has gone to Mass and will be back in an hour.”

…“I just tried to call again,” Currie wrote in a group message. “The plane I was on had broken WiFi. I am so sorry, I was going to communicate by email that Phillip (Fulmer) could stand in for me on the call and talk about coach D (Dave Doeren). I have another prospect meeting- I had to schedule a back up plan because I was concerned that Dd (Doeren) would back out.”

…Currie addressed the Leach situation in a group message on Nov. 30: “He wants the job but I have not offered or discussed terms with him. He has to leave for a visit at 2 (Pacific Time). Can someone please call me back?”

And Currie got fun e-mails and texts from fans. One came from “the top Middle School football coach in Northeast Alabama”:

And a different fan said to avoid NC State’s Dave Doeren, because that would cause a riot, but nominated…former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin? Because hiring a guy who literally left town in the middle of the night wouldn’t be controversial at all!

But the best fan email of all might be this suggestion:

It’s tough to go 7-9 in a 12 to 15-game college football season, but by gum, Jeff Fisher will find a way. At any rate, all this helps to illustrate the many things that can go wrong in a coaching search, and the amounts of remarkable external commentary that can come into it. Coaching searches have always been difficult, and there’s always been some lobbying from agents, plus some floating of names and promotion or bashing of certain candidates from the media, but the current environment’s maybe taken them to a new level of insanity. And that’s particularly true for searches like the Tennessee and Pitt ones that drag on. As the duration of a coaching search extends, so too does its craziness.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.