In the midst of working to wrap up the 2015 signing class, getting ahead on future classes and searching for Tennessee’s next offensive coordinator, Tennessee coach Butch Jones went on the Paul Finebaum Show on ESPN on Wednesday afternoon to address all that’s going on with the Vols.
In discussing the open OC position, Jones continued to emphasize finding the correct fit for the program.
“Everything is about a gut feeling and finding the right fit,” Jones said. “Everyone wants you to go hire this person or that person based off of resume, but they have to trust me. I’m the caretaker of Tennessee football and I know what our players needs, I know what this coaching staff needs, I know what this program needs as we continue to move forward.”
Jones also repeated a familiar phrase, something he said when he first arrived in Knoxville and prepared to assemble his first staff at Tennessee.
“And we’re going to get the best coach for Tennessee, and I can assure you that we’re going to get the best of the best,” he said, sounding similar to his promise to hire the best staff in America when he first arrived.
That promise was initially met with some skepticism when Jones brought five of his nine assistant coaches from Cincinnati, though the overall success in recruiting and the improvement on the field over the past two years lends at least some credence to what he said.
Jones said he had spoken to “a number of individuals” but didn’t go into any more specifics about the offensive coordinator search on Finebaum’s show. He brought in veteran coordinator, offensive line/tight ends coach and former head coach and mentor at Central Michigan Mike DeBord last weekend for what were believed to be discussions related to the open position.
Jones hasn’t confirmed if he’ll hire a single offensive coordinator, or potentially split up some of the duties. Current receivers coach Zach Azzanni, North Carolina State offensive coordinator Matt Canada are among some other potential candidates for the job.
Jones also expressed optimism that former offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian’s departure to become the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks coach won’t negatively affect recruiting as the Vols look to wrap up a class ranked as high as No. 2 nationally.
“We basically staff recruit,” Jones said. “So we’ve had no obstacles that way because of the relationships that have been built over time with the prospective student-athletes and their families. So that hasn’t been any hinderance at all in this recruiting class.”