Ex-Tennessee football coaches depart in 2022, along with other notable names | Mike Strange

·3 min read

As the 2022 college football season nears, let’s pause to reflect on some familiar names who won’t be joining the party.

The coaching carousel is relentless. Inevitably, when the music stops, somebody is left without a seat. Today, we wave goodbye.

David Cutcliffe has left the sideline after 14 seasons as the head coach at Duke. Cutcliffe remains a favorite with UT fans for his two stints as offensive coordinator, the most recent being 2006-07. He made Duke, a perennial doormat, respectable and was twice ACC coach of the year.

David Cutcliffe made Duke football respectable again.
David Cutcliffe made Duke football respectable again.

Cutcliffe, 67, serves as a special assistant to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

Dan Mullen was head coach first at Mississippi State, then for the past four years at Florida. He was also a candidate of interest in at least one Tennessee coaching search.

At Florida, Dan Mullen was 4-0 against Tennessee.
At Florida, Dan Mullen was 4-0 against Tennessee.

Mullen was 4-0 against the Vols in his recent Florida tenure, but had enough problems other Saturdays to get fired. He has surfaced as a “contributing resource” at a Georgia high school.

Justin Fuente parlayed two good years at Memphis (2014-15) into a springboard to replace icon Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. Returns diminished. Fuente will sit out this season but, only 46, he’ll likely hop back on when the carousel starts again in November.

Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech football media day, 2021.
Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech football media day, 2021.

Ed Orgeron, a Lane Kiffin lieutenant in the 2009 Tennessee season, won a national title at LSU in 2019. Two years later he was fired. Orgeron, 61, likely will coach again in some capacity, but he’s taking a break.

Gary Patterson put TCU back on the map, has been the Horned Frogs’ only coach in the 21st century. His record is 181-79 and he has a statue outside the stadium. He was also mentioned by some (including me) as a viable candidate for one or more of Tennessee’s five coaching searches since 2008.

He’s a special assistant to Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Skip Holtz will skip the season. He’s out after head-coaching stints at UConn, East Carolina, South Florida and, for the past nine years, Louisiana Tech.

Why is he relevant to UT? He was the receivers coach for his dad at Notre Dame in 1990 and 1991 when the Irish and Vols split a pair of magnificent games.

Holtz hasn’t left the sport. He’s head coach and GM for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL.

Butch Davis also got message-board mentions in a past Tennessee search. He had success at Miami in the 1990s, less at North Carolina and was let go after a 1-11 season, his fifth, at Florida International. At 70, Davis might not have a fourth act.

Doug Martin isn’t a household name but he’s local. The Oak Ridge product took on two tough jobs, Kent State and, more recently, New Mexico State. He had only one winning season out of 16 as a head coach. Not sure what’s next for Doug.

Finally, another local boy. Morristown’s Randy Sanders played quarterback at UT then coached at his alma mater in various capacities from 1989-2005. He won national championship rings at Tennessee in ’98 and at Florida State in 2013.

When East Tennessee State gave Sanders his head coaching break in 2018, he was up to the task. His 2021 season started with a win at Vanderbilt and finished 11-2. With a 26-16 record, he walked away at age 56.

Here’s hoping Randy finds a lot of pars and catches a lot of fish this fall.

Mike Strange is a former writer for the News Sentinel. He currently writes a weekly sports column for Shopper News.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: College football notable names leave for 2022 season