We’re entering the silly season of the college football calendar where rumors and reports fly everywhere about coaching futures.
There’s plenty of speculation surrounding Tennessee’s staff after the Vols finished off an underwhelming 8-4 (4-4 SEC) campaign with a loss to underdog and in-state rival Vanderbilt last Saturday.
Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord had an up-and-down year and was regularly chided by portions of the fan base for predictable play-calling. Despite that, the Vols did end up second in the conference in scoring offense and averaged an astonishing 50.25 points per game over the final four weeks of the season. Still, Debord took plenty of heat for shaky offensive performances against Appalachian State, Alabama and South Carolina.
Defensively, the numbers were far worse.
Bob Shoop was a celebrated hire over the offseason after orchestrating top-10 defenses in the past, but the bottom fell out in Knoxville this year. Dealing with a host of injuries on his side of the ball, Shoop oversaw a defense that finished ninth or worse in the SEC in every major statistical category in the regular season (passing, rushing, total & scoring).
It was especially poor down the stretch. Tennessee gave up an average of 661 yards and 39.3 points per game in the final three contests against Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Three teams – Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri – all went over the 400-yard rushing mark this season.
Despite all that, head coach Butch Jones will not make a change at either coordinator spot, at least according to a report from Travis Haney of 247Sports.
But while Jones reportedly isn’t prepared to pull the trigger, the 60-year old DeBord is at least considering retirement, according to the report.
The report also says to “expect an overhaul of the strength and conditioning department in the coming months.”
That’s been a much-scrutinized area of the program after the Vols sustained over a dozen significant injuries in 2016, including ones that held star players Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton, Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Alvin Kamara out multiple games.