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Thoughts From The Staff: Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Hot Board

KNOXVILLE, TN – MARCH 22, 2018 – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Tyson Helton of the Tennessee Volunteers during Spring practice on Haslam Field in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

The staff here at Fanrun Radio is back once again with our piping hot takes. This time, the staff gives you their thoughts on Tennessee’s search for an offensive coordinator after Tyson Helton’s one-year tenure at the helm of the offense ended on Monday when it was announced that he would take the head coaching position at Western Kentucky.

Let’s see what the staff thinks of it being Coaching Search Time in Tennessee:

Daniel Brackman, Co-Host of “Overtime”

Get Hugh, Kiffin will never happen as much as I want it to.

Ric Butler, Producer for “The Drive” and “Overtime”

Maybe a long shot, and I fully acknowledge other great hires are still available, but my No. 1 choice for offensive coordinator is former Texas Tech head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. Why? It’s simple: he is an offensive juggernaut. In his six seasons at TTU from 2013-18, the mastermind Kingsbury averaged about 38 points per game, 327 passing yards per game, and 140 rush yards per game.

Granted, he did have Patrick Mahomes at the helm, but even then, the Mahomes currently in the NFL is playing not the same caliber that played in college. Moral of the story is this: Kliff failed at TTU because his defense was terrible. But when it comes to offense, and when given time to recruit the right players for his system, Kliff has proven that he is one of the most brilliant offensive play callers in the country.

My Rankings:

1. Kingsbury
2. Hugh Freeze
3. Kendal Briles

Tanner Carson, Digital Editor/Host of “Overtime”

Who I Want It To Be: Let us allow bygones to be bygones and offer the olive branch to Rev. Danny Hugh Freeze, Jr. Now, you have to realize that multiple things will have occur in order for college football’s Joel Osteen to continue his redemption arc in Knoxville:

  1. Jeremy Pruitt and Phillip Fulmer will have to want Freeze here.
  2. This will need to be cleared with Greg Sankey and the SEC, who shot down Freeze to Alabama as an analyst under Nick Saban months ago.
  3. This recent report from Bruce Feldman will have to be proven false.

If these hurdles are cleared? Break out the djembe drums, make sure he stays away from any ladies of the evening and let’s ride.

Who I Think It Will Be: Dan Enos is the current quarterbacks/associate head coach at Alabama after a three-year stint as the OC at Arkansas from 2015-17. Before that, he spent five seasons as the head coach at Central Michigan where he did okay for CMU standards (26-36 overall) before resigning to go to Fayetteville. His offenses at Arkansas finished 27th, 57th, and 62nd in the FBS, so that could be worrisome? Enos has a good track record of quarterback development and currently coaches the probable Heisman Trophy winner in Tua Tagovailoa.

I think, for fans, this would be the middle ground between a home run hire and something that would receive major backlash (like a Will Friend promotion).

A.J. Cook, Digital Contributor, Guest Panelist on “Overtime”

Who I Want It To Be: I think Randy Sanders would be a fun hire. He is only making around $225,000 before incentives at ETSU, so money shouldn’t be an obstacle. He played and coached at Tennessee for over 20 years from 1984-2005 and won a national championship here as an OC in 1998. He helped Jameis Winston win a Heisman Trophy and national championship at Florida State (alongside Jeremy Pruitt) in 2013. He led a crappy ETSU team to the FCS playoffs in his first year as head coach.

He graduated from this school, has worked with the current head coach and athletic director here, and has a coaching pedigree comparable to the other assistants on staff. The history and credentials are there. Whether he would be interested in becoming an assistant again or if Pruitt likes his offensive style is a whole other issue.

Who I Think It Will Be: Will Friend. Promoting from within is as “safe” a hire as Pruitt and Fulmer can make. Obviously, Friend can recruit (See Wanya Morris), and has enough familiarity with the program already to where there would be a minimal transition phase. Friend was also offensive coordinator for three years at Colorado State from 2015-17, which culminated in him having a top-10 offense his final year there. That stat could also be attributed to offensive wiz Mike Bobo being head coach, but who knows.

Basically, it wouldn’t be a glitz and glamour hire, and not a lot of fans would like it. But it would be “safe”. Meh.

Cole McCormick, Producer of “Overtime”

I want Freeze. #TeamFreeze

Logon Quinton, Digital Contributor

The news of Tyson Helton bouncing to Western Kentucky is welcoming. I think the guy has potential as an offensive mind, just not here. I don’t necessarily think there is bad blood between he and Pruitt, but I do think it is a mutual split. The two just didn’t mix. It was apparent far too often this season.

So who is going to be the next contestant?

My top three would be:

1. Kendal Briles

2. Hugh Freeze

3. Brandon Streeter

No need to expand beyond this list. Tennessee is capable of bringing in one of these names, with Freeze being the most likely. I give Briles the edge, just because he is ascending at an alarming rate. He is the hot commodity right now in terms of offensive production. Houston was seventh in total offense this year. However, it looks like he may get the head coaching gig at Texas State.

Streeter is a quarterback’s best friend. I could see Pruitt wanting a guy who works primarily with quarterbacks and leaving philosophy in the hands of the head coach. If this is the case, Streeter is your guy. Jarrett Guarantano needs a true quarterbacks coach in the worst way. But it will be hard to pry Streeter away from Clemson. He is a Tiger through and through.

With that said, don’t make this hard. Call Hugh. Be the first and the last person to contact him about the vacancy. He would come in a heartbeat. The offense would be productive at worst. It’s the Bible Belt, we forgive alleged adultery. Just not child abuse.

If that doesn’t work, you could always meet Mike Leach on “the bike trail” with a bag of Legos and offer him to be the richest offensive coordinator in all of the land. He is crazy enough to consider it. Remember, he loves the river. So, there’s that. It can’t hurt to ask.

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