Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has reportedly spoken to two more candidates about the Vols’ vacant offensive coordinator position.
It was first stated by former Vol wide receiver and current radio host Jayson Swain of the morning radio show The Swain Event on Thursday morning that Tennessee had spoken with both Steve Sarkisian and Matt Canada about UT’s offensive coordinator position.
“Tennessee talked to Sarkisian two days ago,” Swain said on Thursday. “Yesterday, Tennessee and Matt Canada talked.”
That statement was followed up by a report from long-time Knoxville media member John Brice stating that Pruitt had spoken to both men as well, adding that UT had “moved on” from Canada.
Lots of #Vols OC questions. Pruitt has talked with both Steve Sarkisian & Matt Canada, as @AustinPriceless also excellently noted. I’m told #Vols spoke w/ Canada yesterday & have moved on. “Sark is going to have a lot of options” both college/NFL I was told.
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) January 3, 2019
Sarkisian was recently let go as the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator after serving in that role over the last two seasons. He had spent the previous decade coaching in the college ranks. Canada served as the interim head coach for Maryland this past season and has been an offensive coordinator at LSU, Pittsburgh, NC State, and Wisconsin among other schools.
Both Pruitt and Sarkisian worked together at Alabama in 2016. Pruitt was the defensive coordinator for the Tide while Sarkisian had been hired on as an offensive analyst after being fired as USC’s head coach the previous season. Sarkisian would go on to serve as the Tide’s offensive coordinator for the National Championship Game after Lane Kiffin left that position to accept the head coaching job at FAU.
Sarkisian played quarterback for BYU in 1995 and 1996 and got his start in coaching at El Camino College as their quarterbacks coach in 2000. He was hired on as USC’s quarterbacks coach in 2001 and stayed in that role till 2003. He coached quarterbacks for the Oakland Raiders in 2004 before returning to USC to be their QB coach again in 2005. In 2007, he was promoted to OC, and he served in that role before being hired as the head coach of the Washington Huskies prior to the 2009 season.
Washington was 0-12 and averaged just 13.2 points and 263.2 yards per game in 2008. In Sarkisian’s first year as their head coach, they improved those totals to 26.1 points and 375.5 yards per game. Sarkisian would earn a 34-29 record as the Huskies’ head coach before USC hired him as their head coach prior to the 2014 season.
Sarkisian went 9-4 in his first year as the Trojans’ head coach, but he was put on administrative leave just five games into his second year as head coach because of multiple off-field incidents involving alcohol. Sarkisian had showed up to multiple team-related events under the influence of alcohol, and USC Athletics Director Pay Hayden eventually terminated him with cause.
After that, Sarkisian was hired by Nick Saban at Alabama to serve as an offensive analyst, then Sarkisian went to the NFL to call plays for the Atlanta Falcons.
It’s believed Sarkisian has his drinking issues under control now and is a recovering alcoholic.
We will update as more information becomes known.