Possibly the worst kept secret in the profession; but can confirm that Mike DeBord will be new OC at Tennessee http://t.co/sNnVtycOD5
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) February 5, 2015
For UT followers: Mike DeBord has told his staff, colleagues at Michigan that he is leaving for Vols, per source w/ knowledge of situation.
— Evan Woodbery (@TheSaintsBeat) February 5, 2015
DeBord, 58, will replace former offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, who worked with Jones for eight seasons and was the only OC he’d ever had as a head coach. Bajakian departed for a job as the Tampa Bay Bucs quarterbacks coach on Jan. 22, reuniting with head coach Lovie Smith after the two worked together for the Chicago Bears from 2002-03.
FootballScoop also reports that Tennessee receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who has been viewed as the top in-house candidate for the job, will receive a “bump in title, role and pay.” Reading between the lines, a title such as “passing game coordinator,” which was Azzanni’s role at Florida in 2010, makes a lot of sense.
If there are no other staff moves made, the Vols would be left without a true quarterbacks coach on their full-time staff. Tennessee graduate assistant Nick Sheridan played quarterback at Michigan under DeBord in 2006 and 2007, and went on to be a quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at both Western Kentucky and South Florida after graduating from Michigan in 2010.
Perhaps Jones plans to use Sheridan as a de facto QBs coach for the 2015 season, though using a graduate assistant in that manner is always a touch risky because they can be hired away to a full-time staff position at any point, and they generally only stay for two years total as a GA. Sheridan is entering his second year in that position in Knoxville.
Jones has regularly discussed his desire to bring in a coordinator that he is familiar with. DeBord certainly fits that mold, having worked with Jones at Central Michigan from 2000-03. DeBord retained Jones on staff when he came over after being the offensive coordinator at Michigan from 1997-99. DeBord promoted Jones from position coach to offensive coordinator at CMU in 2002, a position he held through the 2004 season.
Jones listed DeBord as an influence when he was first hired at Tennessee.
“Obviously, there are a number of individuals who have really kind of helped define some of my principles,” Jones said in 2012. “I’ve been very fortunate to work for a lot of very successful coaches – not just head coaches – but many assistant coaches who are now in the National Football League. I take a little bit from Rich Rodriguez. I take a little bit from Brian Kelly. I take a little bit from Mike DeBord, who was the head coach at Central Michigan and is now the tight ends coach with the Chicago Bears.”
But while there’s a ton of personal familiarity, DeBord doesn’t have an extensive background with the spread offense. And while Jones doesn’t like to label his offense as just “spread,” there are certainly plenty of spread elements in it. DeBord primarily ran a pro-style offense at Michigan and CMU that featured a heavier emphasis on the I-formation than what has been seen at Tennessee under Jones.
One source familiar with Jones and the search told us that it’ll be Jones’ offense that is run regardless, so based on that, DeBord will be brought in as more of a caretaker of the offense, perhaps tweaking small aspects, especially in the run game, but not overhauling anything.