In the land of “Rocky Top,” they are still waiting to hit rock bottom. Tennessee’s nightmare season marked another dismal chapter Wednesday, as interim head coach Brady Hoke dismissed wide receiver Jauan Jennings after the junior posted a profanity-laced tirade to the Internet.
In an Instagram video, Jennings, who has been out with a dislocated wrist suffered in the Vols’ season opener, appeared upset at possibly having been told he couldn’t play in Saturday’s season finale against Vanderbilt. “I really f—— hate Vanderbilt,” the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native said to a camera.
“The coaching staff is holding us back,” he said. “Please, Tennessee, send us a great-a– coaching staff.”
In his rant about Tennessee’s staff, Jennings used terms such as fake-a–,” snake-a–” and “lying-a– coaches.” He added, “That’s what the f— wrong with Tennessee, n—-. It ain’t nothing to do with no players, it ain’t nothing to do with no m—–f—— injuries, n—-. It’s straight f—— coaching. F—— n—– is some lying-a– b——.”
Jennings also said that he was “trying to come back” for the 2018 season and wanted a “good coach.” However, he won’t be playing for the Vols in 2018, despite catching 40 passes for 580 yards and seven touchdowns last season, including a last-second, Hail Mary grab that secured a memorable win over Georgia.
“In consultation with vice chancellor/director of athletics John Currie, I have made the decision to dismiss Jauan from our program,” Hoke said in a statement. “Representing the University of Tennessee football program is a privilege.”
Hoke, a former head coach at Michigan who was overseeing the Vols’ defensive linemen, took the reins when Tennessee fired Butch Jones on Nov. 12, a day after the team lost, 50-17, to Missouri. Since then, the 4-7 Vols have lost to LSU and are on the verge of completing an SEC season without a conference win for the first time since the league was formed in 1933.
In addition, a loss to the Commodores, also 4-7 and winless in the SEC, would hand the Vols the first eight-loss season in the program’s history, which dates back to 1902. So the team would undoubtedly have preferred to keep all of its focus on defeating Vanderbilt, but it now has address questions about Jennings — and about whether an interim coach such as Hoke should have been able to tell an important player to hit the road.
On his “Vol Calls” radio show Wednesday, Hoke said that Jennings’s tirade “was a little bit of a surprise I think to everybody,” himself included. “But after talking to John Currie and consulting with him, I know what the right thing to do is for our football team,” Hoke continued. “That’s why we made that decision.”
If there is more to the dismissal of Jennings than Wednesday’s video, Hoke did not elaborate. In the meantime, Knoxville’s rumor mill is churning with speculation about the Vols’ next head coach, with big names such as Chip Kelly and Jimbo Fisher being bandied about and some fans wallowing in a years-long fixation on Jon Gruden.
Not that Tennessee administrators asked for it, but Jennings offered some advice, delivered with plenty of profanity. “Bring us a coaching staff that is honest, n—-, and will do everything in their power, n—-, for the f—— kids, n—-, for the players, n—-,” he said. “F— the paycheck, like, damn, n—-, this is for us.”
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