With the success the Tennessee football program has had during the 2009 season, some assistant coaches may be given the opportunity to leave Big Orange Country.
Head coach Lane Kiffin admitted this could be a possibility when he hired a staff that was the highest paid in college football.
“Anytime you shoot high, that’s going to happen,” Kiffin said. “If you shoot high and you get great coaches and recruiters like this, you’re going to eventually lose them.”
Kiffin believes losing these coaches means that you are building a championship program, something Kiffin has stressed since arriving in Knoxville.
“If we’re losing (coaches), it’s a good thing,” he said. “Because usually if you’re losing (coaches) that means you’re successful and winning a bunch of games.”
Kiffin’s father, defensive coordinator Monte, was a longtime defensive guru in the NFL. Despite ties to the professional ranks, Monte has been very firm about remaining on Rocky Top.
“I want to tell you this right now, I ain’t retiring, okay? I’m not going back to the NFL,” Monte Kiffin said. “I didn’t coach in the NFL 25 years to come to Tennessee and get experience to go back to the NFL … I’m going to stay right here, I love it here, and I’m going to coach here as long as I can coach.”
Former Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron served as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator under Kiffin. Orgeron was at the center of a recruiting war last offseason when LSU offered him more money to coach in his home state rather than rejoin Kiffin at Tennessee. Orgeron is a coach Kiffin knows could become a head coach again given his recruiting success.
“Here’s a guy that’s proven again that he can go anywhere and get players,” Kiffin said. “Look at the example of him coming here. He was here for such a short time, and we signed a top-10 class, the No. 1 player in the country (in running back Bryce Brown) and look what’s going on this year.”
Running back and special teams coach Eddie Gran was the first to be contacted by another school this season. Gran interviewed for the head coaching position at the University of Memphis after the Tigers fired head coach and former UT player Tommy West following the Tiger’s loss to Tennessee in November.
While LSU running back coach Larry Porter was recently hired for the Memphis head coaching position, Gran holds a history with another coach looking for work. Gran coached under Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss and Auburn but came to Tennessee when Tuberville was fired from Auburn. Tuberville has been mentioned as a candidate for head coaching positions at schools such as Louisville and Virginia, and Gran could rejoin Tuberville if he is hired elsewhere.
Wide receiver coach Frank Wilson, who coached under Orgeron at Ole Miss, could also possibly leave if Orgeron is hired as a head coach at another school.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is another possibility to leave as he has ties to the NFL and the Big 10, most notably at Purdue.