Tennessee appears set to hire a former college football head coach to its staff.
After months of speculation, Brady Hoke, formerly the head coach at Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan, will reportedly be added to Tennessee’s staff as the defensive line coach, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 6, 2017
Hoke, who visited a Tennessee practice in 2015, would replace veteran defensive line coach Steve Stripling, who has an expiring contract this month. Stripling might be retiring or transitioning into an off-the-field roll for Tennessee after spending the past eight years with Butch Jones at Tennessee, Cincinnati and Central Michigan. Stripling also served as the assistant head coach for Tennessee, and was the interim head coach at both CMU and Cincinnati when Jones left for other jobs.
After taking 2015 off following his dismissal at Michigan, Hoke joined the Oregon staff as defensive coordinator in 2016. The Ducks finished 4-8 on the season and were second-to-last in the Pac 12 in both scoring defense (41.4 ppg) and total defense (518.4 ypg). Hoke was not retained on Oregon’s staff by new coach Willie Taggart, who replaced the fired Mark Helfrich.
The Vols will hope that the 58-year old Hoke can get back to some of his coaching roots on the defensive line, where he excelled as a position coach at Michigan from 1995-2002, helping lead the Wolverines to one of the most successful stretches in program history, including a 1997 national title.
With Stripling leading the group, Tennessee finished fifth in the SEC in sacks in 2016 with Derek Barnett becoming the school’s all-time leader in that category in the process. But with a group of defensive tackles worn down by injuries and attrition, UT struggled to defend the run (11th in the SEC), especially late in the season. Hoke’s addition continues the revamping of the defensive staff, which has already seen the addition of former North Carolina DBs coach Charlton Warren, who replaced Wille Martinez.
Tennessee is hoping for big gains defensively in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Bob Shoop after the Vols finished 11th and ninth, respectively, in total and scoring defense in the SEC in 2016. Hoke will certainly bring some name recognition to that effort.