Grading Tennessee’s Hire of Jim Chaney as Offensive Coordinator

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    (Photo via Rob Saye)

    After six-plus weeks of searching for an offensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt finally found his man when he tabbed Georgia OC Jim Chaney to come back to Knoxville. Chaney called plays for the Vols from 2009-12 and has served as an offensive coordinator at four other schools in his two-plus decades of coaching.

    Former and current Vol players were big fans of the hire, and so are Tennessee fans. In a Twitter poll we conducted asking fans to grade the hire, 76 percent of the nearly 4,300 people who voted in the poll gave the hire an “A” while another 21 percent gave Chaney’s hiring a “B.”

    But how does the RTI team feel about the hiring of Jim Chaney as the Vols’ offensive coordinator?

    Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford, staff writer Ben McKee, and contributor Charley Collier provide their grades and reasoning behind them below.


    Grade: A

    This hire, in my opinion, is close to an “A+,” but I’ll get to why I didn’t go quite that far in just a second.

    Needless to say, I think this is a home run hire, especially considering the twists and turns this search took. Chaney will bring some much-needed stability to Tennessee’s offense and team in general, and he has a strong track record as a play-caller and developer of quarterbacks. He won’t blow you away with innovative schemes and techniques like you’ve seen from coaches like Kliff Kingsbury, but Tennessee doesn’t need that. That stuff rarely works in the SEC, anyway.

    Chaney fits what Pruitt wants to do much better than Tyson Helton did, and that alone makes this a big hire to me. Coaching is all about fitting in with a staff correctly and meshing well with the system, and I think Chaney will do that spectacularly.

    The only reason I’m not giving this a plus on the “A” is because I think UT had to overspend slightly to get Chaney. I’m a huge fan of Chaney, but I don’t think he should be the highest-paid OC in college football. But that’s what Tennessee had to do to get him away from Georgia, and it was worth it, in my opinion. Yes, they slightly overpaid for him, but it will pay dividends in the long run for the Vols.


    Grade: A

    Tennessee’s hire of Jim Chaney was as good as it gets for Jeremy Pruitt. The only way I think it could be even better is if he brought in a tremendous innovator from the NFL. But he didn’t, and Pruitt still hit a home run with the hire.

    Chaney checks all of the boxes that Pruitt was looking for in an offensive coordinator. He’s a proven and experienced play-caller, he’s a tremendous developer of the quarterback position who wants to coach quarterbacks, he can recruit, and he has lengthy ties to the SEC.

    Separate from it checking Pruitt’s boxes, Chaney also checks off other boxes. He isn’t an up-and-coming coach that will bolt for another job to move up. Chaney loves East Tennessee, loves the people, and wants to stay here a while. To top it off, Pruitt stole him away from Georgia, dinging the Bulldogs.

    Don’t let Georgia fans or national media members fool you either; Kirby Smart didn’t necessarily want Chaney to leave, but he let Chaney walk after he wasn’t willing to match Tennessee’s offer.

    There won’t be as big of an immediate impact as some think due to a lack of talent on offense, but I truly believe that in 2020, you’ll really see this move pay off.


    Grade: A 

    It may have taken a long time, but Pruitt and company nailed this hire. Chaney is a very good coordinator with a track record of success. He called plays for one of the most prolific offenses in Tennessee history back in 2012 and has had Georgia near the top of the offensive ranks in the SEC in each of the last two years.

    Sure, he may not be the best recruiter, but the Vols have plenty of those. They needed, more than anything, a good football coach, and they got one. Chaney has a great knowledge of the game. He is a good on-field coach and can adjust his offense well to his personnel. Furthermore, he and Pruitt are a great match-up stylistically.