I have a lot of questions about Tennessee’s hire of former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele this week:
1. Did y’all see that Steele’s contract in Knoxville is a TWO-year deal? Good for Kevin! Anyway, ESPN reported last week all pending extensions for existing assistants on Pruitt’s staff are currently frozen.
2. Does anyone else find it weird that Tennessee just hired a popular alumnus who was also under heavy consideration for its head coach opening during the same 2017 cycle where Jeremy Pruitt was hired?
3. Did you know the Vols hired Steele as simply a “defensive assistant?” Current defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley is still on staff. That’s weird too, isn’t it? I’m sure having three defensive coordinators on staff, one of whom is the embattled head coach, will work out somehow.
4. If you already have a Jeremy Pruitt, career Power 5 defensive coordinator, as head coach, why would you then hire another career (well, mostly career) P5 defensive coordinator generally considered to be of equal value? That’s like Burger King for lunch and Arby’s for dinner and Arby’s for breakfast the next day.
5. Did y’all notice the Vols are bad on offense, not defense? Yep. In 2020 UT finished 90th in Offensive FEI and 108th in total scoring. Seems like if there was an exception made for a big-time hire during a personnel freeze amidst an internal investigation, it would be on the side of the ball that benefits the sitting head coach. Just sayin’.
6. Speaking of, did anyone see where the Vols just lost a five-star offensive tackle from the 2019 class to the transfer portal this week? I mean, that’s not technically a sign of a program under duress. According to portal rules Wanya Morris could return to the program if [holds earpiece] ah yes, OK then.
7. Perhaps you’re asking me why I’d tie the hire of Steele, on a multi-year deal when every other football or football adjacent human on staff is in investigation-induced stasis, to some kind of back-end transfer of power? I mean hey, it’s not like there’s an incredibly recent blueprint for that exact kind of plan featuring the same human being.
8. Speaking of featuring the same human being,
9. And why are some parties connected to the UT program SO EMPHATIC that Steele’s hiring was Pruitt’s move? Seems to be a kinda “methink the V’s doth F-L too much” type of statement, you know?
10. Even if you’re a diehard Tennessee fan or Jeremy Pruitt acolyte _ and if you’re the latter, I’d love to meet you, albeit via a plexiglass divider – can’t you admit it’s really odd that the Vols are making key staffing hires in the middle of an internal investigation into the football team? Apropos of absolutely nothing, this one time? When the NCAA was investigating Ole Miss? Their offensive line coach, Matt Luke, got a better offer for the same job at another school in the league, and the AD immediately matched said offer because he was worried — so much so he said it out loud around the building — that he’d need an interim head coach in the near future.
Anyway, it’s a great hire. Kevin Steele’s Auburn defenses were impressive, so much so that you could say they really took over and became the identity of that program.