On New Year’s Day I wrote a post about Tennessee Football’s new coaching staff despite the fact that there were still quite a few vacant positions. Two weeks later, I wrote another post to bring more news of the Tennessee coaching staff but there were still vacancies. Then, shortly after that the complete coaching staff was in place, and for whatever reason I didn’t write about it. So now here I am, nearly two weeks after National Signing Day and finally getting around to report on the complete staff for the Tennessee Vols Football team. Here it is:
Head Coach: Lane Kiffin, 33 – During his time at Southern Cal, Kiffin served first as the Tight Ends Coach in 2001, then in ‘02 and ‘03 he took over the roll of Wide Receivers Coach. In 2004 he also remained as the Wide Receivers Coach as well as adding the responsibilities of Passing Game Coordinator. In 2005 Kiffin was promoted to Offensive Coordinator, kept all his other positions and also added Recruiting Coordinator to the list. Kiffin remained at USC with these same duties in ‘05, ‘06, and ‘07. During those three years he brought in the top recruiting class in the nation every year. Kiffin went on to be the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, where he coached for the 2007 season and for a quarter of the 2008 season before he was fired by the walking dead, oh, I mean fired by Al Davis. Now he is the Head Coach of our beloved Vols.
Defensive Coordinator: Monte Kiffin, 68 – Let me first start by saying that his resume is insane and there’s no way I can fit it all in, so let me hit on the main points. Kiffin is widely accepted as one of, if not the best defensive mind in NFL history. Kiffin served as the Defensive Coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 through 2008. During his early years with the Buccs, Kiffin developed the Tampa 2 defense with the then Head Coach of the Buccaneers and current just retired Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy. Kiffin’s coaching played a huge roll in the Bucc’s winning Super Bowl XXXVII. All I can really say is that he’s the best. If you’re a defensive player coming out of high school and you’re looking to go to a school that will best prepare you for the NFL, then there is no other coach in the nation that would fit your needs more than Monte Kiffin.
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Chaney, 46 – From 1997 to 2001 Chaney held the positions of Offensive Coordinator, Offensive Line Coach, Tight Ends coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Purdue. From 2002 to 2005 he had all of those same responsibilities for the Boilermakers except for Recruiting Coordinator. In each of his five years as Recruiting Coordinator the Boilermakers pulled in classes that were top 10 in the nation. While at Purdue he also helped develop NFL quarterback’s Drew Brees and Kyle Orton. In Chaney’s nine years with the Boilermakers they led the Big Ten in passing five times and in total offense three times and ranked top ten in the nation in total offense six times. From 2006 through 2008 Chaney has served as the St. Louis Rams Tight Ends Coach and Assistant Offensive Line Coach. Chaney will also be helping out as the Offensive Line Coach.
Offensive Line Coach: Jim Chaney, 46 – (See above)
Special Teams Coordinator: Eddie Gran, 43 – After graduating from California Lutheran in 1987, where he played for 4 years as a wide receiver he stayed at his alma mater as the Wide Receivers Coach until being hired by Southeast Missouri State as the Running Backs Coach. After his time at SEMO, Gran was hired by East Carolina as a Graduate Assistant for Defensive Backs, a year later he went to Miami to be a Graduate Assistant for Linebackers and Quarterbacks. Gran left his position with the Hurricanes to head to the University of Cincinnati for a brief stint as the Wide Receivers Coach. He then took a job at the Idaho State, again as a Wide Receivers coach, then Gran entered the SEC ranks in 1994 as the Runnin Backs Coach for Ole Miss, where he coached through the1998 season at which point he was hired by Auburn, again as the Running Backs Coach and also Special Teams Coordinator, a position he held until being hired by he accepted this job at Tennessee, where in addition to Special Team s Coordinator he will also be the Running Backs Coach. Notable players that Gran has coached are Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Kenny Irons, Rudi Johnson, John Avery, Deuce McAllister, Heath Evans and Brandon Jacobs.
Running Backs Coach: Eddie Gran, 43 – (See above)
Assistant Head Coach: Ed Orgeron, 47 – Let me start with a quote from ESPN writer Bruce Feldman when he wrote that Orgeron is “widely hailed as one of the top recruiters and defensive line coaches in football.” That speaks for itself but I’ll go on anyway. Orgeron coached at USC with Lane Kiffin, and both played big parts in USC’s 2004 National Championship. Before his Southern Cal days, he was the the Defensive Line Coach at Miami (FL) where he coached from 1988 to 1992 and during that time had eight of his linemen become All-Americans, including Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland and Warren Sapp, who were all first round draft picks for the NFL. During his time at Miami, the Hurricanes won two national championships. Orgeron was also name National Recruiter of the Year in 2004. Orgeron was head coach at the University of Mississippi from 2005 to 2007, where he pulled in the majority of the recruits that had the Rebels ranked in the top 20 this year. In 2008 he served as Defensive Line Coach of the New Orleans Saints. Now he’s a Volunteer.
Recruiting Coordinator: Ed Orgeron, 47 – Just read everything I wrote above but I will add that Wes Rucker of the Chattanooga Times Free Press called Orgeron a “nationally-acclaimed recruiter.”
Defensive Line Coach: Ed Orgeron, 47 – (See above)
Linebackers Coach: Lance Thompson, 43 – In 1987 Thompson graduated from The Citadel. This is important because it tells us he knows how to work hard, and he knows how to get others to work hard. After graduating Thompson was hired by Georgia Tech as a graduate assistant in 1988, and from ‘88 to ‘91 he coached the defensive ends, including Marco Coleman, and in the 1990 season the Yellow Jackets won the National Championship. He remained a member of the Yellow Jacket staff through the 1998 season. During that time he served many different positions on the staff, including Directory of Football Operations, Recruiting Coordinator, Tight Ends Coach, and Defensive Line Coach. After his time at Georgia Tech, Thompson went to Alabama as Defensive Line coach for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He then went to another SEC team, and became the Assistant Head Coach at LSU from 2002 to 2003 where he also was in charge of recruiting and being the Tight Ends Coach. The three years after that Thompson took the role of Defensive Coordinator at Central Florida, where he helped build a young and successful squad. In 2007 he returned to Alabama, this time as the Linebackers Coach and in February 2008 was named National Recruiter of the Year. That’s the big thing to keep in mind. Less than a year ago, he was named National Recruiter of the Year.
Defensive Backs Coach: Willie Mack Garza, 39 – After playing as a cornerback and free safety for the University of Texas (or as I like to call them, the other UT) in 1993 he stayed with the Longhorns as a Graduate Assistant until he got hired as the Defensive Backs Coach by Western Michigan in 1997, where he coached through the 2000 season. He was then hired as the Cornerbacks Coach at Texas Christian University and coached there until he moved to Tarleton State University, where he coached the defensive secondary for a year and then went to North Dakota State University, accepting the job of Defensive Backs Coach in 2005. The very next year he was promoted to Defensive Coordinator and kept that job until Tennessee hired him as the Defensive Backs Coach. Garza is also a member of the Texas High School Hall of Fame. During his playing career he was named a Freshman All-American in 1988 and despite missing the following year while recovering from a torn MCL and PCL had a great career at Texas but broke his leg in the final game of the 1992 season.
Quarterbacks Coach: David Reaves, 30 – In 2002 and 2003 Reaves served as a graduate assistant for the University of South Carolina, but since 2004 Reaves has been a full time member of the Gamecock’s coaching staff. In 2004 Reaves started out as the Assistant Defensive Backs Coach, working primarily with the safeties. In 2005 and 2006 Reaves was the Assistant Quarterbacks Coach (assistant to Steve Spurrier, the head coach himself) and in 2007 was handed the reigns and was promoted to Quarterbacks Coach. The previous year, in 2006, he was named Recruiting Coordinator, and the very next year brought in a top 10 recruiting class in the nation and he quickly earned “his reputation as one of the top young recruiters in college football.” Many considered that to be the best recruiting class in the school’s history. That year Rivals.com named him one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation. Reaves is the brother-in-law to Lane Kiffin.
Wide Receivers Coach: Frank Wilson, 36 – Wilson graduated from Nicholls State. He played on both sides of the ball at Nicholls State as a running back and defensive back. Wilson was a student assistant at his alma mater before spending a few years involved in high school sports in New Orleans. Then in 2005 Ole Miss hired Wilson as Running Backs Coach and Assistant Special Teams Coach, where he remained until being hired this year by the Vols. Mike Strom writes that Wilson is a “highly-regarded recruiter” which I always like to hear.
Tight Ends Coach: James Cregg, 34 – From 1997 to 1999 Cregg served as a Graduate Assistant at his Alma Mater, Colorado State. After that he served as the Defensive Line Coach for Colgate from 2000 to 2003. In ‘02 and ‘03 the Raiders won back-to-back Patriot League titles and in ‘03 they went undefeated until losing in the I-AA Championship Game. Cregg then spent three years as the Defensive Line coach at the University of Idaho, before being hired as the Oakland Raiders Assistant Offensive Line Coach in 2007, where he coached with Lane Kiffin. Cregg was hired by Kiffin as one of Tennessee’s coaches with two games left in the Raiders season. In addition to his coaching of the Tight Ends, Cregg will also be helping coach the Offensive Tackles.
Strength Coach: Mark Smith, 44 – Another staff member that we managed to pull away from Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina crew. Smith had been with Spurrier since 1998, when he was still at florida. I don’t really know a whole lot else about Smith other than he’s supposedly really good. On some South Carolina fan boards, they went as far as saying that he’s the best Strength and Conditioning Coach in the nation. I don’t know how true that is, but I like the sounds of it. I believe it was the $200,000 salary that Tennessee offered him that got him to cut ties with the devil. Smith took up his post in Knoxville on January 5 and Coach Lane Kiffin is already impressed with his work.
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