The Tennessee Vols’ search for a defensive coordinator is becoming quite a spectacle.
Tennessee has been linked to numerous names over the last several weeks and they’ve received a lot of “nopes”.
Kansas City Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House is the latest candidate to get deep into talks with the Vols, only to have the deal fall apart late.
Sources told A to Z Sports on Sunday evening that House and Tennessee were working on getting a deal done. Late Sunday night, however, the Chiefs reportedly made a pitch to keep House in Kansas City.
That means it’s likely once again back to square one for Tennessee.
There’s an easy answer to this search for the Vols, but it’s being ignored by athletic director Danny White.
Tennessee should’ve hired Wofford head coach Josh Conklin a week ago and been done with this search. They would’ve avoided all the public rejections, while also landing a coach who is a tremendous fit for what the Vols need under new head coach Josh Heupel.
Heupel is an offensive-minded coach who needs someone to completely run the defensive side of the ball. Conklin, who has been a defensive coordinator at FIU and Pittsburgh, would be perfect for UT thanks to his head coaching experience at Wofford (plus his aggressive defensive approach works with Heupel’s up-tempo style offense).
Conklin was the safeties coach at Tennessee in 2012, so he understands the program, the expectations, and the fan base.
It’s a hire that makes all the sense in the world.
So why hasn’t it happened?
Multiple sources have indicated that White is concerned about the perception of hiring an FCS head coach.
That makes no sense. I think Conklin’s head coaching experience at Wofford makes him a MORE attractive candidate.
(Based on conversations I’ve had, I believe Heupel would be on board with hiring Conklin.)
It’s also odd that White was all in on hiring House, who was actually replaced by Conklin at one point in his career (Conklin replaced House at Pittsburgh as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator in 2015 when House wasn’t retained by new head coach Pat Narduzzi) but has hesitated to get a deal done with Conklin.
Tennessee is fortunate to be in a situation where they could possibly hire Conklin, but time is running out. Wofford’s season starts on Saturday. That’s not a roadblock to hiring Conklin yet, but it will be in the next day or so.
The Vols have an easy answer to their defensive coordinator predicament. It’s bewildering that they’re ignoring the easy way out.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY