Late last night, after USC announced it had hired former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin to take over the football program Pete Carroll had left, speculation immediately turned to who would take over for Kiffin.
That’s where Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun comes into the picture. Before Tennessee hired Kiffin, Calhoun was a finalist for the job. As Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel tweeted last night, Calhoun was next in line. With the head coaching position again open, will Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton turn to Calhoun?
Since Calhoun has returned to his alma mater in 2007, he has led the Air Force Academy to three straight bowl games with an overall record of 25-14. In his first year, he was named the Mountain West’s coach of the year.
Calhoun would offer Tennessee the NFL pedigree they had sought out when they hired Kiffin, who had just been fired as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Calhoun joined the Denver Broncos in 2003 and spent 2006 as the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
Some of the other candidates being floated for the Tennessee opening are Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach and current Monday Night Football commentator Jon Gruden, TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson, Duke Head Coach and former Tennessee assistant David Cutcliffe and Connecticut Head Coach Randy Edsall. To say the least, Calhoun is joining some heady company.
Air Force should find out soon if they are going to lose Calhoun as Tennessee is going to want to make a quick hire to avoid losing recruits from its top-10 recruiting class. Signing Day for football recruits is fast approaching in February and Tennessee will want to have someone in place way before hand. Just look how fast USC moved to replace Carroll.