As the coaching carousel spins, some of Tennessee’s assistants will, almost certainly, be linked to potential openings on new staffs around the country.
Tennessee passing game coordinator/receiver coach Zach Azzanni had his name thrown in as a possibility to join the new staff at Maryland.
Tennessee assistant Zach Azzanni will be a candidate to join Durkin as Maryland’s OC, per source. Worked together under Urban, close friends
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 2, 2015
Azzanni and Durkin overlapped multiple times on coaching staffs, including as graduate assistants at Bowling Green from 2001-02 under Urban Meyer, as assistant coaches at Bowling Green in 2005-06 and on Florida’s staff, again under Meyer, in 2010. Maryland officially hired Durkin, who worked under Jim Harbaugh as the defensive coordinator at Michigan this season, on Wednesday.
Azzanni was promoted to passing game coordinator at UT in 2015 when former offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian departed to be the quarterbacks coach for the Tamp Bay Buccaneers.
Previously the recruiting coordinator at UT before the 2015 season, Azzanni has been viewed as one of the staff’s stronger recruiters, but the wide receivers have seen mixed results in his three years in charge of that position. The Vols have dealt with a heavy amount of attrition and injuries at that position, but haven’t finished higher than eighth in the SEC in receiving yardage over the past three seasons.
A full-time assistant at the FBS level since 2003, Azzanni has also made coaching stops at Wisconsin, Central Michigan and Western Kentucky. He sent this tweet out Wednesday evening, not long after the report surfaced.
Recruit….sleep…. Recruit ….sleep.. Early flights very late nights… Recruit sleep repeat! #recruitingseason
— Zach Azzanni COACH Z (@UTCoachZA) December 3, 2015
Butch Jones addressed the general concept of the coaching carousel and others speaking to his assistants when addressing the media on Tuesday. Jones has only had two changes on his full-time staff since arriving at Tennessee, hiring Robert Gillespie as running backs coach in 2013 after Jay Graham left for Florida State and naming Mike DeBord the offensive coordinator in 2015 after Bajakian left.
“First of all, when they get calls, that’s a compliment to the program,” Jones said. “Everyone around the country understands what we’re building here – the progress we’ve made so far – so to me I take that as a compliment. If a coach has an opportunity to better himself, better his family, something that really fits his careers goals, I’m always going to be supportive. Obviously I’ll speak my opinion. And we’ve been together for a really long time and I’ll point out the pluses and minuses, but when they come after your coaches, I think that’s an overall compliment to your football program and we have some very good football coaches here and even better people.”