If Jeremy Pruitt returns as the Tennessee Vols’ head coach in 2021 (and at this point, I think he will return to UT), then he’s going to have a different looking coaching staff.
Some of that staff change is already underway. Football Scoop reported on Monday that offensive line coach Will Friend is heading to South Carolina. More staff moves are expected.
An obvious move that Pruitt should make is to fire quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke.
I’ve never been a fan of Weinke as a quarterbacks coach, thanks mostly to his failure in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams.
During his two years as Tennessee’s quarterbacks coach (he spent his first year on staff coaching running backs), there’s been no noticeable improvement at the position.
Jarrett Guarantano never progressed. And we never really saw much improvement from the young quarterbacks on the roster, either. JT Shrout was a redshirt sophomore this past season and it still felt like watching a true freshman.
Programs won’t find success in the SEC without strong quarterback play. And I think it’s clear that Weinke just isn’t getting the job done at Tennessee.
Moving on from Weinke, however, is only part of the solution. Finding a quality quarterback coach to replace Weinke is the most important part of the equation.
And that’s not easy.
That’s because a good quarterbacks coach doesn’t stay a quarterbacks coach for long. Once a “quarterback whisperer” is identified, they usually rise up the coaching ranks quickly.
That means the Vols will likely need to do some digging to find a coach who can spend a couple of years on Rocky Top developing quarterbacks.
Fortunately for Tennessee, I think I found someone they could hire. And he’s available.
Former LSU offensive analyst Jorge Munoz, who most recently served as Baylor’s passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach, could be a strong option for the Volunteers.
Munoz doesn’t have a loaded resume as some folks would prefer, but he has results.
Specifically, Munoz has results with Joe Burrow. More on that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at Munoz’s resume.
Munoz, who spent a year playing in the Arena Football League, has mostly bounced around with lower-level programs. He was a wide receivers coach/offensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois from 2005-2007. Munoz then spent 10 seasons on staff at Louisiana-Lafayette in various roles, including wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator.
Not very exciting, right?
I agree. But this is where I should point out (as my Big Orange Podcast co-host Charlie Burris often notes) that college football is not a meritocracy. It’s all about who you know. I truly believe there are a litany of great head coaches languishing at small colleges and the high school level because they don’t know the right people. Coaching acumen is the most important attribute to being a successful college coach, but knowing the right people can carry almost as much weight.
Anyway, Munoz finally got a shot at a Power-5 program in 2018 at LSU, albeit as an offensive analyst.
In this role, he worked closely with Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow, who would go on to have one of the most impressive seasons in college football history in 2019.
This isn’t a scenario where Munoz’s name is attached to Burrow’s name because they appear on the same Wikipedia page. Munoz legitimately worked closely with Burrow.
In fact, Burrow invited Munoz to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony in 2019. That’s not something that offensive analysts are usually invited to.
Burrow made it a point to mention Munoz during his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech, too. I think that shows how important Munoz was to Burrow’s ascension to the top of the college football world.
Munoz is available because he was let go by Baylor on Monday. This might be a red flag, but it should be. It boiled down to the fact that Munoz and Baylor offensive coordinator Larry Fedora (who was also let go) simply weren’t on the same page.
All season long there were indications that the marriage of Fedora and passing-game coordinator Jorge Munoz was not going well simply because the two want to do such wildly different things, and I continue to believe that friction was part of the reason Baylor struggled so much in the first half of games before realizing that what they were trying to do wasn’t working and just dumbing things down as much as possible in the second half. All indications are that Munoz wanted to run a style of offense much more akin to what they did at LSU with the Joes Brady and Burrow
I know Tennessee fans are going to want a “big name” to replace Weinke.
But that probably isn’t going to happen.
For one, the big-name quarterbacks coaches don’t exist. And even if they did, why would they go to Tennessee to work with a coach who will enter the 2021 season on the hot seat?
Trying to unearth an under-the-radar hire who has star potential is the best route for Tennessee to take. That’s why I think Munoz would be a smart hire.
Another name to consider bringing on staff in some capacity
Tennessee obviously needs some offensive creativity on its staff.
And no one was more creative in college football in 2019 than Joe Brady.
The Vols obviously can’t get Brady (who is now the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers). But they could get the next best thing.
DJ Mangas was at LSU as an analyst (and before that at William and Mary) with Brady. He’s now an offensive assistant with the Panthers.
Brady told reporters earlier this year that everyone will be wanting Mangas in the not-so-distant future.
Mangas and Brady share the same offensive philosophies and styles. It might be worth Tennessee giving him a shot in an on-field role to try to stimulate the offense.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY