'Coach' Witten: Cowboys Ex A Tennessee Candidate?

Jason Witten hasn’t announced his choice yet. But the Volunteers football program’s choices might be limited enough for there to be merit behind any rumor involving the Cowboys icon
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FRISCO – In the winter of 2017, when the University of Tennessee head coach job came open, our own Mike Fisher asked Jason Witten about rumors that he was in line for the job at his alma mater.

“For me, certainly, coaching is something I can see myself (doing) down the road,” the Dallas Cowboys standout told Fish. “Right now, I’m all in with this team. My feet are planted firmly here.”

Three years later, Tennessee has fired Jeremy Pruitt amid accusations of recruiting violations.

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How about now, “Gold-Jacket Witt”?

At a time when the Volunteers program is at its lowest in maybe forever, anyone taking over the head coach position might be doing so out of love for the school. That’s going to limit the search.

Is a natural guess Witten?

On Tuesday’s episode of The Dan Patrick Show, the host mentioned the Cowboys icon and current Raiders tight end Witten, a Tennessee Volunteer legend.

Witten’s 2020 season in Las Vegas was a forgettable one, with just 13 catches for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns in 16 games played. ... A far cry from the productivity the once Cowboys fan-favorite enjoyed in Dallas.

With age also a factor - he turns 39 in May - he may not want to repeat his 2020 experience in Las Vegas. The one-year broadcasting career during a short-lived retirement was not successful.

Witten wants to be a coach.

He said it again in the winter of 2019, as he was heading out the door at The Star.

“When I’m done playing, that’s something I’d like to do, for sure,'' he said of a coaching future.

And what level would he like to coach? 

“Right here,” Witten said, meaning either the Cowboys or the NFL.

Of course, at the time, there was no opening on the top of the organizational chart in Knoxville.

One source close to the situation tells Fisher that in Witten’s best interest, he should recognize that he’s not ready for such a job.

“He’s never coached or recruited before, and his on-the-job training is to run a bad program in a Power-5 conference? In the SEC?”, the source said. “That’s career suicide.”

But ... as he’s a legend there, wouldn’t Witten get leeway there? Even with no coaching experience, everyone has seen his on-field leadership in the NFL ranks; can’t he skip a step on the coaching ladder?

A source tells CowboysSI.com that Witten purposely chose the Raiders so he could be coach-mentored by Jon Gruden. So his first job as a coach could be there. Or he could join the Cowboys in some capacity, as owner Jerry Jones calls Witten “one of the five finest people I’ve met in football.” Or he could go to any number of other teams.

Witten hasn’t announced his choice yet. But the Volunteers football program’s choices might be limited enough for there to be merit behind any Jason Witten rumor.

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