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Tennessee was going to give Greg Schiano $4.5 million per year, before it all fell apart


That would’ve placed Schiano in the upper half of the SEC.

Tennessee’s attempted hiring of Greg Schiano in late November didn’t happen because of an unprecedented burst of fan backlash.

Schiano and then-athletic director John Currie went so far as to sign a memorandum of understanding outlining the terms of Schiano’s deal, before the parties separated. We now know the terms of that memorandum, via 247Sports: a six-year deal worth an average of $4.5 million ($27 million in total), with a starting salary of $4.4 million.

That would’ve been a nice chunk of change, even by SEC standards. Just five coaches in the league made more than that last year, with Alabama’s Nick Saban far and away tops at about $11.1 million. That’s per the coaching salaries database at USA Today. He probably would’ve come in as the fifth- or sixth-highest paid coach in the 14-team SEC for the 2018 season, had the deal gone through.

A potentially critical detail: Tennessee’s buyout to Schiano in the event of a standard firing would’ve been 75 percent of the remaining money on his deal, according to the MOU obtained by 247. If Schiano were to sue Tennessee and prove that the deal was binding in court, that’d leave him slated to receive more than $20 million.

That’s the worst case-scenario. If Schiano did get any money from Tennessee, it seems likelier that it would come from a settlement. UT, according to 247’s and other reports, doesn’t think it owes Schiano anything, because the paperwork wasn’t signed by the school’s chancellor or chief financial officer.

Tennessee fired Currie, the AD who tried to land Schiano, after a couple more days of a chaotic coaching search. Former coach Phillip Fulmer replaced him after reportedly sabotaging Currie, who’d gotten the job over him the previous winter.

UT may be on the hook for more than $13 million in buyout money between fired coach Butch Jones and Currie, though the Vols reportedly want to fire Currie for cause and save some of that money. We’ll see if they’re actually able to do that.

The wild search ended with the Vols hiring Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. His contract with the Vols is reportedly worth about $4 million annually, also for the six-year term initially offered to Schiano.