Former coaches offer opinions on head coach job search at UT

Former coaches offer opinions on head coach job search at UT

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"I think Jon Gruden is right at the top of everybody's list," said Powell native and former Ohio State football coach John Cooper. "I think Jon Gruden is right at the top of everybody's list," said Powell native and former Ohio State football coach John Cooper.
Derek Dooley's dismissal was naturally a hot topic of discussion at the University of Tennessee's Quarterback Club Monday afternoon. Derek Dooley's dismissal was naturally a hot topic of discussion at the University of Tennessee's Quarterback Club Monday afternoon.
"If we're going to win to championships, they have to find the money," said former head coach Johnny Majors. "If we're going to win to championships, they have to find the money," said former head coach Johnny Majors.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Derek Dooley's dismissal was naturally a hot topic of discussion at the University of Tennessee's Quarterback Club Monday afternoon.

The featured speaker was a Knoxville native who knows what it's like to get the boot from a big-time college football program.  

Powell native and former Ohio State football coach John Cooper was fired after the 2000 season.  

Cooper offered his thoughts to members on the attractiveness of UT's open coaching spot and who he thinks should fill it. 

"There are two kinds of coaches - those that are going to get fired and those that have been fired, and I understand that. I got fired with an 8-3 record," Cooper said.  

Cooper told Quarterback Club members he's never happy to see a coach go, but knows Dooley's dismissal was part of the business.   

"Tennessee is a great place to coach. It's a top 10 place to coach in my opinion. Hire the right guy and, in my opinion, you're able to win 8, 9 games," Cooper said.  

UT Athletic Director Dave Hart said Sunday he preferred a candidate with prior coaching experience.

Some club members agree, but also want someone who understands the legacy of Tennessee football.

"We need someone in here who understands and knows the traditions here and can convey that to the players and we win with players, make no mistake about it," said Bill Bowell, a board member of the Knoxville Quarterback Club.

Jon Gruden is the name that's been popular with many fans as Dooley's eventual successor.   Cooper said Gruden is his first choice for the job.

"I think Jon Gruden is right at the top of everybody's list, if he wants to get back into coaching college football. He's obviously a good football coach, he's won a World Championship, he's got ties here," Cooper said.  

Even though the UT Athletic Department reported a $3.98 million fiscal deficit, many, including former UT football coach Johnny Majors, said money needs to be spent to get the right coach.

"If we're going to win to championships, they have to find the money. I don't think they'll be robbing banks, but if they if have to borrow it, they will have to find the best coach they can find to turn this program around," Majors said.  

Cooper said his next choice after Gruden would be Jim Tressel, another former Ohio State head football coach.

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