The Tennessee Vols are on day two of their offensive coordinator search and while it doesn’t seem likely that a hire is imminent, we do have an idea of who could be in play for the Volunteers (and who isn’t).
Before we get to who is in play and who isn’t in play, it should be noted that former UT offensive coordinator Tyson Helton was officially introduced as Western Kentucky’s new head coach on Tuesday.
GALLERY | .@WKUFootball announces the new head football coach Tyson Helton
— WKU Sports Pics (@WKUSportsPics) November 27, 2018
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt released a statement on Helton and his new job.
Statement from Jeremy Pruitt on offensive coordinator Tyson Helton leaving for WKU. pic.twitter.com/ExES6CMoOq
— WBIR Sports (@WBIRSports) November 27, 2018
Helton, by the way, also had kind words to say about Pruitt and Tennessee.
Tyson Helton calls his year at UT ‘invaluable’ and says Phillip Fulmer and Jeremy Pruitt are ‘true professionals.’
Helton on Pruitt: ‘He’s going to do great things at the University of Tennessee.’
— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) November 27, 2018
Alright, now for who will replace Helton.
Names that are unlikely to be hired by Tennessee
Hugh Freeze: This is a popular name among Vol fans, but according to Bruce Feldman, Freeze isn’t in the mix for the job at Tennessee. It’s likely because of his checkered past. He’d also have to be cleared by the SEC, which is never something a school wants to have to do with a potential hire.
Kliff Kingsbury: Kingsbury would probably do an amazing job at Tennessee, but he doesn’t seem like a good fit. The former Texas Tech head coach has a bright offensive mind, so he’ll likely have his pick of offensive coordinator jobs (and he could also get another look as a head coach). It wouldn’t be shocking if he ends up in the NFL.
Kendall Briles: I doubt Briles’ name was ever going to get serious consideration by Tennessee, but it seems clear that the Vols don’t want anything to do with anyone that will bring along baggage. I can’t say I blame them.
Lane Kiffin: I’ve seen his name attached to this job and I’m not sure why. There’s no way Kiffin is returning the SEC as an offensive coordinator after leaving Alabama. Kiffin wants to be a head coach, going back to a coordinator role would be silly.
These names all make sense and could happen
Dan Enos — Alabama quarterbacks coach: I think Enos is the leader in the clubhouse, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing for the Vols. Enos didn’t exactly set the world on fire as an offensive coordinator at Arkansas. But he’s worked well with Alabama’s quarterbacks this season, so perhaps his failures with the Razorbacks were because he was on a bad coaching staff (think Bob Shoop at Tennessee).
Chip Lindsey — Auburn offensive coordinator: I detailed why I think this would be a poor hire here. Lindsey was very close to losing his play calling duties at Auburn this year. It wouldn’t make much sense for Tennessee to hire him if he wasn’t getting the job done at Auburn. But he’s close with Pruitt, so he’ll likely be at the top of the list.
Brandon Streeter — Clemson quarterbacks coach: If Tony Elliot or Jeff Scott ever leave Clemson, it’s like that Streeter would be elevated to at least co-offensive coordinator. Streeter has done a good job with Clemson’s quarterbacks and he’s called players before in his career (at Liberty and Richmond). The Vols need to hire someone with more experience, but the idea of installing Clemson’s offensive in Knoxville is intriguing. But how would Streeter gel with the existing staff?
Jim McElwain — Michigan wide receivers coach: McElwain has an obvious connection to Pruitt (they were both at Alabama at the same time from 2008-11), but his offenses at Florida left a lot to be desired. It’s easy for coaches to have success at Alabama when they have the best players, but how would McElwain do at Tennessee with limited talented?
Bryan McClendon — South Carolina offensive coordinator: I doubt this is the direction the Vols go, but it’s worth mentioning McClendon’s name because of his connection to Pruitt and UT offensive line coach Will Friend. McClendon, however, isn’t a quarterbacks coach, so that would mean more staff upheaval in Knoxville would be necessary. Plus, I don’t think McClendon is leaving South Carolina after doing a nice job last year.
Jake Spavital — West Virginia offensive coordinator: There are rumors that West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen could be in play for the job at Texas Tech. Would Spavital follow him there? Or would he even want to leave West Virginia? Spavital is an air-raid guy, so I’m not sure he’d fit in well at UT. But his name has been mentioned so that’s why he’s listed here.
Freddie Kitchens — Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator: Kitchens is really close with Pruitt and Friend, but that might not be enough for him to walk away from the NFL. Even if Kitchens isn’t retained by the Browns’ new head coach, he will still probably get other opportunities as an offensive coordinator in the NFL after doing a good job of taking over for Todd Haley in Cleveland.
Will Friend — Tennessee offensive line coach: Friend served as Colorado State’s offensive coordinator under Mike Bobo before he joined Pruitt at Tennessee. He was essentially a co-offensive coordinator for the Vols last year, as he had a hand in play calling. Promoting Friend is probably too much of a gamble for Pruitt.
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