In what could be just the first move in a major staff shakeup this offseason, Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is reportedly leaving Tennessee and will take the offensive coordinator position at Indiana.
Volquest.com, a Rivals.com affiliate, first reported the news of DeBord’s departure from UT. ESPN.com reported that he will take the job with the Hoosiers.
DeBord, a former offensive coordinator at Michigan, NFL position coach and head coach at Central Michigan, departs following two seasons in Knoxville after he took the offensive coordinator job under Butch Jones, one of his former assistants at Central Michigan.
It’s been an adventurous two-year run for DeBord and Tennessee. Jones was bullish about the hire, despite some fan backlash centered around DeBord’s previous job as an administrator at Michigan and him lack of experience as a quarterback coach, which was also part of his title in Knoxville.
The results were certainly mixed over the course of two seasons.
DeBord’s first offense in 2015 was the second-most potent rushing attack school history as he used Joshua Dobbs, Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd to spearhead an attack that finished with 2,908 yards on the ground. The passing attack, however, struggled at times as the Vols finished ninth in the league in that category with just under 200 yards per game.
While extremely effective on the ground from a big-picture standpoint, DeBord’s offense seemed to go into a shell in some crucial moments – including in late drives against Oklahoma and Florida – two excruciating games the Vols let slip away in the closing minutes.
DeBord’s 2016 offense saw increases in scoring (36.4 ppg) and total (443.7 ypg) offense as the Vols bumped up to second and fifth, respectively, in those categories in the conference. While the defense, statistically, was the primary issue in UT’s somewhat disappointing 8-4 campaign, the offense still had some poor moments – particularly in the costly losses at South Carolina, and in the final quarter of the regular-season finale loss at Vanderbilt.
With Jones facing a win-or-else type of season in 2017, he will move on without his longtime friend and mentor, who will, at the age of 60, return to his home state of Indiana to quite possibly finish out his coaching career.
Former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich, who visited Tennessee’s bowl preparations in Nashville, is the primary name to watch going forward. We’ll have more updates on potential candidates in the coming days.