After over two weeks of searching following the departure of offensive coordinator Mike DeBord to the same position at Indiana, Butch Jones and Tennessee confirmed the new configuration of the offensive coaching staff on Friday afternoon.
Tennessee is promoting tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Larry Scott to the role of offensive coordinator, while coaching veteran Mike Canales will join the staff as quarterbacks coach. New defensive backs coach Charlton Warren will take over Scott’s special teams coordinator duties.
Scott joined the Tennessee staff last season in his 16th year of coaching. He came to Tennessee after a 4-2 stint as the interim head coach at Miami when he was promoted following the firing of Al Golden. Scott previously served as the tight ends coach for the Hurricanes from 2013 through the beginning of the 2015 season, and prior to that he coached tight ends, running backs and the offensive line during a stint as a full-time assistant at South Florida from 2007-2012.
While he’s coached a variety of positions, Scott has never called plays at the collegiate level.
“Larry played an important role in the success we had offensively last year and was heavily involved in all aspects of our game plan, both during the week and on game day,” Butch Jones said in a press release. “We felt it was vital to maintain our continuity on offense and keep building on what we have established the past four seasons.”
Canales, a long-time friend of Jones’, joins the UT staff from his alma mater Utah State, where he spent last season as assistant head coach/running backs/tight ends coach.
He brings extensive quarterbacking coaching expertise with over two decades of experience working with that position, although a majority of it came below the Power-5 level.
He had stops at Snow College, Pacific and South Florida (prior to moving to the FBS) before landing his first FBS gig as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for North Carolina State in 2001-02, where he coached Phillip Rivers.
He had a one-year stint as a receivers coach with the New York Jets (2003) before moving on to be either the offensive coordinator or co-coordinator at Arizona from 2004-06. He’s since had stints at South Florida, North Texas and Utah State in a variety of roles – everything from interim head coach to position coach.
“I’m also really excited about adding Mike Canales to our staff,” Jones said. “Mike has recruited, coached and developed numerous quarterbacks at the collegiate level. He will be of great benefit to our players and staff with his extensive experience and knowledge of the quarterback position.”
Neither move will qualify as much of a “splash” to Tennessee fans, but Jones was adamant in comments made earlier in the month that he wasn’t looking for an offensive overhaul, but rather for staff pieces that would fit and enhance Tennessee’s current situation. He certainly will have a comfort level and plenty of continuity on his staff with these moves.
While inconsistent at times, Tennessee’s offense has also put up impressive numbers over the past couple years, including an offense that finished second in the SEC in scoring in 2016 and second in school history in rushing in 2015.
Heading into what could be a defining season for the fifth-year UT head coach, Jones is betting on the new staff configuration to continue those types of numbers, while also cleaning up some of the issues that plagued the Vols in a couple costly losses in 2016.
Will Boling and Daniel Lewis both contributed to this report