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Every year coaches are on the hot seat in college football. The rumors seem to never die and your job never seems to be safe. Alumni, media and the fans will always have something to poke at.
There are always exceptions to the rule. There are and were a few coaches that were looked to be the face of the program and university.
The University of Tennessee football program seems to be in limbo. Full of rich tradition and a roster that features a ton of talent, the Volunteers can’t find a coach to get their program back in the national spotlight. Former head coach Butch Jones had his moments and for a minute it looked like the Vols were relevant in the SEC again.
Disappointment would be a nice way to put how this season has turned out for the program. Losing 50-17 to a struggling Missouri Tiger team is unacceptable in the eyes of the university. The administration had to do something. Now that Jones is gone, unsettling reports have surfaced. Allegedly, tight end Daniel Helm is transferring from the program because of Butch Jones’ verbal abuse. Despite all of this, the Tennessee job is still very attractive.
The Vols have a young offense that will return just about everybody, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. It’s hard to look past the 4-7 record and a winless conference record in the SEC. The Vols needs to make their next hire a really good one.
There has been some rumble on who could be the next coach. The coaching landscape has some intriguing prospects. Whoever gets the job will need to get right to work on changing their fortunes on the field. Here are five possibilities to be the next coach of the program.
Manny Diaz, Miami Hurricanes’ Defensive Coordinator- The Hurricanes’ Defensive coordinator’s name has not been mentioned so far in the coaching search for the Vols, but he should at least be given a look. He has spent time in in the state as the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Diaz has the Hurricanes’ defense playing as one of the best units in the country. The SEC is built off playing great defense and running the ball. The team who does that the best usually wins the conference, just ask Nick Saban at Alabama. Everywhere Diaz goes, the defense improves. At 43, this would be Diaz’s first head coaching job. Tennessee would be the ideal fit for him as another program he could help build back into a contender. The only difference is this time the program would be his.
Randy Shannon, Florida Gators’ Defensive Coordinator/Interim Head coach– Shannon is currently serving as the interim Head coach of conference foe Florida, but with the Gators still looking for a new coach, Shannon could become available. The last time Shannon was a head coach it was for the Miami Hurricanes 2007-10. The Hurricanes were at an all-time low but Shannon had them playing well for stretches. Shannon has shown he can be a great coordinator and decent head coach. He would give Tennessee good leverage in the state of Florida for recruiting. Shannon has a background coaching in the SEC outside of Florida, serving as linebackers coach at Arkansas in 2012. Like Diaz, Shannon has not been linked to the job, but don’t be surprised if the Vols look his way.
Matt Canada, LSU Tigers’ Offensive Coordinator- The LSU offensive coordinator has been regarded as one of the top assistants in line for a head coaching job. With some of these young weapons on offense, Canada can make some noise. The Vols fans would love to have him come in and make this his program. He has shown he can coach in this SEC in his first year for LSU. At 45 years old, Canada would love his first head coaching job to be in one of the best conferences in college football. If Tennessee wants Canada to be their next head coach, the money needs to talk. If LSU allows Tennessee to talk to Canada it will be interesting to see how things play out.
Mark Helfrich – The former Oregon coach-turned-analyst was linked to this job early on. Helfrich has shown he can coach, and be successful as well. Doing it in the SEC is a different story. With his resume, he should transition nicely with some time to get things going his way. Helfrich is a great offensive mind that can develop a quarterback. He would be a nice choice if given the opportunity. While at Oregon, he played a key role in developing the fast paced offense that had the nation tuning in every Saturday. Helfrich likes his job at Fox Sports, but for the right price, he will listen.
Mario Cristobal, Oregon Co-Offensive Coordinator & Offensive Line Coach– The Oregon Duck coordinator has previous coaching experience in the SEC as Alabama’s offensive line coach from 2013-16. During his tenure, Cristobal helped coach some of the best units in the country. He also had prior head coaching experience leading FIU in the programs’ early existence. As the co-offensive coordinator of the Ducks, their offense is ranked in the top 35 in the country in total offense. Cristobal has the pedigree to be a head coach, all he needs is a chance. The next step for the Oregon coach is landing a head coaching job in a power 5 conference.