Tyson Helton Hired as Western Kentucky’s Head Coach

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    Photo via Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

    After just one year as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, Tyson Helton will be taking a new job at a school he’s coached at previously.

    It was confirmed Monday that Helton is being hired as Western Kentucky’s new head coach. The Hilltoppers fired Mike Sanford on Sunday after just two seasons on the job as their head coach. In two years with Western Kentucky, Sanford earned a 9-16 record and went just 3-9 in 2018, a season after he helped the Hilltoppers earn a berth in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

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    Helton served as Western Kentucky’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jeff Brohm, who is now the head coach at Purdue, was Western Kentucky’s head coach during those two seasons. During his time under Brohm, Helton helped the Hilltoppers’ offense rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense both years.

    Jeremy Pruitt hired Helton last offseason to serve as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Helton was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at USC when Pruitt elected to bring him in as OC for the Vols.

    Helton signed a three-year, $1.2 million annual contract to be the Vols’ offensive coordinator. He only served for one of those three years.

    In his first and only season as UT’s play-caller, Tennessee’s offense was boom-or-bust for most of the year. The Vols did nearly double the amount of plays that went for 30 or more yards from last year to this year (18 in 2017 compared to 30 in 2018), but UT finished last in the conference in total offense for the second straight year. The Vols were 13th in the SEC in points scored per game as well.

    Tyson Helton has never been a head coach at the collegiate level, though his brother, Clay Helton, is currently the head coach at USC and was when Tyson was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach there.

    Pruitt will now have a decision to make about who he will hire to replace Helton as the Vols’ offensive coordinator. We will bring you more updates as they occur.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.