Who We Want to See Hired
- Dan Enos
- Hugh Freeze
- Chip Lindsey
When I look at the credentials I want Tennessee’s new offensive coordinator to have, I think Alabama’s quarterbacks coach Dan Enos checks all those boxes. To me, it’s important Pruitt gets someone with SEC play-calling experience or at least Power Five play-calling experience. Enos has that. It would also be a great bonus if his new OC has head coaching experience, and Enos has that too. He took over at Central Michigan after Butch Jones left (the two never worked together, don’t worry), and he had a lot of success there. He willingly left Central Michigan to be the OC at Arkansas; he wasn’t fired. So not only does he have head coaching experience, but he had a successful run as a head coach too.
Now, those same boxes get checked off by Hugh Freeze. That’s why he’s right behind Enos for me. But I don’t have Freeze higher because of the off-field baggage and because I’m not sure just how much Freeze’s offensive philosophy will mesh with what Pruitt wants to do.
Freeze never had a running back gain 1,000 yards in a season while he was the head coach at Ole Miss. He never even had a back get 900 yards on the ground in a season. I do think he and Pruitt could reconcile their differences from a scheme perspective, but to me I think Enos is just a slightly better fit. Plus, he’s about to have a Heisman winner on his resume in Tua Tagovailoa. I don’t know how much coaching he’s actually done with Tua, but Enos has proven himself at his other stops to be a good QB coach.
I put Chip Lindsey third because I think he’s the most realistic option of the actual candidates available. Pruitt has already interviewed him, and he seems to be philosophically a bit closer to what Pruitt wants to do at UT. I also think he would be a good hire and that too much is being made of his time at Auburn this past season. Look at what he did there in 2017 and his previous stops at Arizona State and Southern Miss. He’s a successful coordinator.
- Kliff Kingsbury
- Hugh Freeze
- Matt Canada
The first person I would have called last Sunday when Jeremy Pruitt found out Tyson Helton was Western Kentucky bound would have been Kliff Kingsbury. It appears he is USC bound, but it’s not official and I would give him a call ASAP. Kingsbury is an innovator, develops quarterbacks, is on the cutting edge, and his players love him. Quite frankly he’s better than college football and is bound to be an NFL offensive coordinator at some point. The progression of Jarrett Guarantano and JT Shrout would be tremendous under Kingsbury. With the receivers on Tennessee’s current roster, the passing game would have the potential to be potent next year under Kingsbury if the O-line could take a positive step forward. I wish Pruitt would give Kingsbury a call this very second. I understand that the two’s offensive philosophies are quite different, but I believe Kingsbury is good enough of an offensive mind to tailor his offense to be more equipped at running the football than it was at Texas Tech. Also, Kingsbury is such a brilliant offensive mind that even Pruitt could consider tweaking his philosophy on offense to make it work.
Out of the three I would target, Hugh Freeze is the only one with a real shot at getting the job. Freeze is a tremendous offensive mind and quarterback developer, but the reason he’s No. 2 for me is his ability to recruit. He would help lock down the city of Memphis thanks to all of his relationships dating back to his days of coaching high school and college ball in the area. Some are worried about his NCAA troubles at Ole Miss getting in the way, but let’s be honest: People are not going to raise an eyebrow when the top player in Memphis heads to Tennessee. Philosophically, my only concern with Freeze is that his his rushing attack wasn’t always good at Ole Miss. That’s why it is important Pruitt and Freeze sit down and sort the nuances of the position.
The name that I haven’t heard connected to the job at all but I would love to see him in Knoxville is Matt Canada, who is currently the interim head coach at Maryland. He was previously the offensive coordinator at LSU and Pittsburgh. Schematically, I think he’s better than Freeze. His motion-based, spread-you-out offense consistently gives opposing defenses problems. Canada’s offense would be a game-changer with some of the athletes on Tennessee’s roster and some of the recruits it’s bringing in. The pre-snap movements seem complex, but a lot of it is for show to help the quarterback recognize coverages – something that would benefit the development of Guarantano. Though Canada’s offense is more spread than pro-style, he still places an emphasis on the running game. It just isn’t in a traditional way.