Jim Chaney is the new offensive coordinator for the Vols.
Angela Gosnell, Knoxville News Sentinel
The Tennessee Vols didn’t break new ground when they hired a prominent assistant football coach from one of their SEC competitors. That’s not unusual in a conference as competitive as this one.
But now that Tennessee has hired offensive coordinator Jim Chaney away from Georgia, maybe Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart will respond by making an in-conference hire of his own.
How about Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley?
What Derek Dooley has done at Missouri
Dooley grew up in Athens, Ga., where his father, Vince, became one of the SEC’s most successful coaches. Derek Dooley was UT’s head coach from 2010 through 2012.
While his head-coaching career didn’t pan out, Dooley has proved resilient. In fact, he has reinvented himself.
After coaching wide receivers for the Dallas Cowboys, Dooley landed the offensive coordinator’s job at Missouri last year. He already has helped the Tigers add two experienced quarterbacks.
Not only did Dooley coordinate Missouri’s offense last season, he coached quarterback Drew Lock, who surely will be a first-round NFL draft pick this spring. That wasn’t lost on Clemson transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant.
He had plenty of options when he chose to leave Clemson after Trevor Lawrence beat him out for the starting job. He settled on Missouri — and Dooley. Bryant will be eligible to play in 2019 as a graduate transfer.
TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson followed Bryant’s lead. He will transfer to Missouri, sit out next season and then have two years of eligibility remaining.
Those quarterback transfers have added credence to Dooley’s ability as a coach and coordinator. Still, he has a short track record.
Perhaps, Smart would want a coach with more experience as an offensive coordinator. If so, he could pursue Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos.
Enos is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator at Alabama. But maybe he would rather work for Smart than Nick Saban.
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, a former UT running backs coach, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Chaney. Gran and Chaney worked together on Kiffin’s staff in 2009.
UT Vols schedule affected by Jim Chaney hire
Regardless of whom Smart hires, UT’s hiring of Chaney is going to make for more intriguing coordinator matchups next season.
The first such matchup could be Oct. 5 in Neyland Stadium if Smart would hire either Dooley or Gran. But even if he doesn’t, Chaney coaching against his old team would provide a popular sidebar to the rivalry.
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Following the Georgia game, Tennessee will play Mississippi State and former UT defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
Shoop’s defense was easy pickings in his two seasons at Tennessee. But last season — his first as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator — the Bulldogs led the country in fewest yards allowed per game.
Although they suffered considerable attrition, the defense Shoop brings to Neyland Stadium next season still should be better than the defense he fielded at UT in 2017.
Then, in two of Tennessee’s last three games, Chaney could be matching offensive wits with Dooley at Missouri and Gran at Kentucky — unless, of course, they’re coaching somewhere else.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.
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