All the signs point to Jeremy Pruitt hiring a former Power-5 head coach as the Tennessee Vols’ next offensive coordinator.
But before I dive too far into what those signs are, understand that this is pure speculation on my part.
If I had to place a bet on who the Vols’ next offensive coordinator will be, I’d put my money on former Washington and USC head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian, who is currently serving as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator, checks too many “Pruitt boxes” for him to not be the favorite. And if it is Sarkisian, it would explain why the “search” has lasted this long.
At this point, the assumption is that Sarkisian won’t return as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator next season. Even if he isn’t fired, there are rumblings that he’d prefer to return to the college game.
— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) December 18, 2018
Either way, the fact that Sarkisian still has a job would be the main reason that Pruitt hasn’t made any sort of announcement. And why he isn’t aggressively interviewing candidates.
So why does Sarkisian make sense?
Well, he has plenty of play calling experience (he served as offensive coordinator at USC and called plays as the head coach at Washington and USC) and his offensive vision (pro-style with a downhill running game) closely aligns with Pruitt’s.
If Pruitt hires Sarkisian, he won’t have to worry about searching for a quarterbacks coach like he’d have to if he hired someone like Notre Dame’s Chip Long.
(By the way, Sarkisian has done good work with quarterbacks in college like John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Keith Price and Cody Kessler).
Of course there’s also the obvious connection between Pruitt and Sarkisian — they were both on staff at Alabama in 2016 (Sark was an offensive analyst and was Alabama’s offensive coordinator for the national championship game loss to Clemson).
So we have a coach who has head coaching experience, play calling experience, Power-5 and NFL experience, a previous relationship with Pruitt, and runs a pro-style offense. And he’s probably going to be out of a job in a couple of weeks.
It makes too much sense.
And before you go judging a hire before it’s even made, keep in mind that talent on the field matters. Good players make good offensive coordinators look great. A lack of talent makes good offensive coordinators look bad. The person calling plays is only part of the equation for a successful offense. It takes much more than calling the right play on Saturdays to create a potent offense. It absolutely starts with the players.
But fortunately for the Vols, there’s plenty of talent on the way to Rocky Top.
Maybe it’ll be Steve Sarkisian coaching some of that talent next year.
The signs are certainly pointing that way.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports