Updates emerge on several potential candidates in Tennessee coaching search Elsa/Getty Images
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7: A Tennessee Volunteer holds up his helmet in the team huddle before the NCAA football game against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Neyland Stadium on September 7, 2002 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 26-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tennessee’s coaching search has become one of the most talked about storylines in college football.

After a tumultuous attempted hire of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on Sunday, UT’s athletic department turned its focus on Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who decided to instead stay with his alma mater on Tuesday night.

Now, the Vols remain coachless and are still searching for answers. Here’s what we know about their search as of Wednesday morning.

WNML’s Jimmy Hyams reported that UT officials met with SMU coach Chad Morris in Dallas on Tuesday night after the reported deal with Gundy fell through.

However, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman disputed Hyams’ report, claiming that despite Tennessee expressing interest in the coach, an interview hadn’t taken place.

Morris currently holds a 14-22 (8-16 AAC) record as a head coach, but has improved during his second and third seasons at SMU since taking over in 2015, including 7-5 (4-4 AAC) finish to the 2017 regular season.

Feldman also reported that despite UT having  “some interest” in Morris, it has instead turned its focus on Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin.


Brohm holds a 36-16 overall record as a head coach. He went 30-10 (19-5) during three seasons at Western Kentucky, leading the Hilltoppers to three consecutive bowl game appearances and two consecutive first-place finishes in the Conference USA standings before taking over at Purdue this offseason.

Doeren currently holds a 56-34 overall record, which includes tenures at Northern Illinois (2011-12) and NC State (2013-present). The Wolfpack are 33-30 (15-25 ACC) since the coach’s arrival, which includes an 8-4 (6-2 ACC) record in 2017.

Martin, who led the Vols to a BCS Championship in 1998 as the starting quarterback, has quickly risen up the ranks as a young assistant with a bright head coaching future, having been named as a Broyles Award semi-finalist on Tuesday.

Washington State’s Mike Leach is also a candidate that has reportedly piqued athletic director John Currie’s interest. However, Leach’s past lawsuit against Texas Tech following his termination is something that, according to Feldman, is difficult for Currie to overlook.

Leach was terminated after being accused of ordering Adam James, son of former SMU standout and ESPN college football analyst Craig James, to stand in the equipment room near the Red Raiders’ practice facility after suffering a concussion.


Hyams also reported that Auburn’s Kevin Steele, who played linebacker (1978-79) and began his coaching career at Tennessee, is also expected to be on the Vols’ radar.

Steele has spent the majority of his career working as a defensive assistant, but also had a previous head coaching stint with Baylor from 1999-2002, which resulted in a 9-36 (1-31 Big 12) overall record.

It’s also worth noting that former Tennessee backup quarterback and current Detroit Lions coach Jim Bob Cooter is not a candidate for the job, as he will continue to pursue an eventual NFL head coaching job, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.


Cooter began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Vols from 2007-08, before working as an offensive assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2009-11), quality control coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and offensive assistant for the Denver Broncos (2013) before initially joining the Lions as a quarterbacks coach (2014-15) and earning a promotion to offensive coordinator in 2015.

Jason has contributed to numerous websites in the past covering a wide range of sports including SEC football for the past four seasons. He began his journalism career as a student journalist at the University of Tennessee where he covered the Vols for the student radio station and newspaper. Here’s ...Read more
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