Who We Think Tennessee Will Hire
- Chip Lindsey
- Hugh Freeze
- Eli Drinkwitz
I know there’s a lot of momentum with Freeze right now, but I can’t discount what my gut is telling me. I’m not entirely sure that Pruitt and Freeze are going to see eye-to-eye enough on schemes and philosophy for that hire to ultimately happen. Tennessee fans saw firsthand with the Bob Shoop hire that just because someone had a ton of success at previous stops doesn’t mean they’ll work out. It’s all about how that coach fits with the other coaches and the overall philosophy the head coach wants. And I just don’t know if Pruitt will be convinced that Freeze will be the right move.
Ultimately, I believe Chip Lindsey is the most likely hire for Tennessee’s OC position. Tennessee could definitely still hire Freeze, and I wouldn’t mind being wrong. But I still think the Auburn offensive coordinator fits better what Pruitt wants to do, and I think Pruitt trusts him more. Pruitt is absolutely looking for someone he trusts and feels comfortable with calling the plays so he doesn’t feel like he has to intervene like we saw this past season.
Because, like we witnessed, that meddling wasn’t good for UT’s offense this year.
Third on my list is NC State’s OC. Pruitt is expected to speak with him, and while I don’t think the hire will ultimately happen, I still put him slightly ahead of Dan Enos at Alabama because I think the Tide will end up retaining Enos in some capacity. Whether that’s as their offensive coordinator or still just a position coach, it would surprise me to see Enos leave Bama. That’s why I put Drinkwitz third, but I think he’s a distant third to Lindsey and Freeze.
- Hugh Freeze
- Chip Lindsay
- Dan Enos
Before I dive into the three names above, I’ll say this. Had Mike Bobo been fired at Colorado State, he would be Tennessee’s next offensive coordinator. With Bobo staying at Colorado State, I believe Pruitt’s No. 1 option would have been Mike Locksley – Alabama’s offensive coordinator. But Locksley is set to be the next Maryland head coach following the SEC Championship Game and is off the board.
That leaves the three above.
Freeze and Pruitt met on Wednesday to hash out philosophies, and from what I was told, the meeting was extremely positive. The ball is in Pruitt’s court on if he wants to bring in Freeze, but the first-year head coach is still weighing all the nuances of bringing in the former Ole Miss head coach. Nuances such as how it will affect staff chemistry. No one at Tennessee is currently standing in the way of Pruitt bringing in Freeze; he’s just taking the time to weigh other candidates.
The most underrated name in the coordinator search is Chip Lindsey. I believe he would be a tremendous hire for Tennessee and would be a great fit. Don’t let his bad wrap at Auburn fool you. Gus Malzahan has placed Lindsey in witness-protection because of his inability to let his coaches coach, but the Madison, Alabama native is a tremendous coordinator. Just look at his track record. Everywhere he has been, he has been successful. He develops quarterbacks, his offenses are always catered to his best players, and he has a tremendous scheme through the air. He started as a high school coach in Alabama, forming a name for himself through his air-raid style offense, but he has sense become a much more balanced coordinator. Lindsey has perfected the run-pass option and brings advantageous nuances to the running game. He understands the important of running the football and getting the ball in your play-makers’ hands. That’s important to Pruitt.
Dan Enos would be another sneaky good hire and a good fit. Enos is another coach who gets a bad wrap because of a previous stop – that stop being at Arkansas under Bret Bielema. What’s appealing about Enos is that he develops quarterbacks and loves running the football. Enos is determined to have a physical rushing attack, using a fullback and an extra tight end quite often. Working hand-in-hand with that physical rushing attack, many of Enos’ scoring drives as coordinator at Arkansas were long, methodical drives that took a lot of time off of the clock. He does a great job of mixing in play-action. In the past, Enos has also done a great job of working with quarterbacks – which is very important in this offensive coordinator hire.