It’s been a week since Tyson Helton was introduced as Western Kentucky’s new head football coach and the Tennessee Vols still don’t have an offensive coordinator.
The longer Tennessee waits to make a hire, the less likely it is they’ll get their first choice.
A potential domino effect was created on Monday afternoon when it was reported that Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey wouldn’t be returning to the Tigers’ staff next season. Lindsey is reportedly a strong candidate to join Les Miles at Kansas.
Hearing that Chip Lindsey is in discussions to become the new Offensive Coordinator at #Kansas. Would be a big get for Les Miles. Lindsey developer Nick Mullens for Southern Miss & put up huge numbers there.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 3, 2018
If Lindsey is all in on joining Miles at Kansas, it likely means the Vols decided to pass on the former Auburn assistant.
While that could mean Jeremy Pruitt has his sights set higher, it could also mean Tennessee ends up hedging their bets on Hugh Freeze and coming up short.
There’s been a lot of smoke around Freeze and Tennessee, with several reports suggesting that Freeze wants to coach on Rocky Top next season.
But since the deal hasn’t been closed with Freeze (if he’s been Pruitt’s first choice all along), there are now several other potential suitors in the mix for the former Ole Miss head coach.
Auburn is looking for a new offensive coordinator. And Liberty, where Freeze made his first public appearance after his scandal at Ole Miss, is looking for a new head coach.
There’s also the possibility that Alabama will be looking for a new offensive coordinator if Mike Locksley is hired by Maryland as their new head coach.
This all means that Tennessee could end up missing on Freeze, Lindsey and one of their other candidates, Dan Enos.
If Locksley goes to Maryland, it could mean that Enos is promoted at Alabama. Or it could mean Freeze joins the staff. There’s also the possibility that Freeze is in play at Auburn.
What happens from here?
Tennessee fans are in a bit of a panic at the moment, but I don’t think they should be.
And here’s why.
I don’t think Freeze is going to Auburn. There’s absolutely no way Gus Malzahn is giving up control of his offense. He nearly took play calling duties away from Lindsey this season. I can’t see him inviting Freeze into the picture and giving him complete control. Plus, it’s not like their offensive philosophies line up anyway.
That means Freeze will likely end up at Alabama or Tennessee. I figure Alabama will basically get their pick of who they want to run the offense next season.
I’ve been sour on Enos in the past, but I think he’d do well as the Vols’ offensive coordinator. He did a marvelous job with Jalen Hurts this season at Alabama, so it’s clear he knows how to coach quarterbacks.
The worst case scenario for the Vols is that Freeze goes to Liberty and Alabama promotes Enos. In that case, the Vols probably have to look at hiring NC State’s Eli Drinkwitz or promoting from within.
But I think Freeze would prefer an offensive coordinator job in the SEC to the job at Liberty. It would allow him to get back in the mix without being the face of the program. If he has any self awareness at all (and I’m not sure he does), this is the route he will choose.
Either way, Tennessee needs to make a decision soon, or they could end up with their fourth or fifth choice.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports