Tennessee head coach Butch Jones spoke vaguely about other schools coming after his assistant coaches during a press conference on Monday. That may have been for good reason.
Yet another Tennessee assistant could be in play for another coaching job after the Vols finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, which is the most regular season wins by Tennessee since 2007. According to a report by Volquest.com, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Mark Elder has applied for the head coaching position at Eastern Kentucky.
Elder has had a strong run in his three seasons at Tennessee since coming with Jones from Cincinnati. Elder was interviewing for the vacant position, according to FootballScoop.com.
The Vols were widely thought of as having one of the best special teams units in the nation. Sophomore kick returner Evan Berry averaged 38.3 yards per return, which led the nation, and returned three kickoffs for a touchdown this season. Junior Cameron Sutton led the nation in punt return average with 18.7-yards per return and scored twice on punt returns this season. However, special teams are coached by several different Tennessee coaches so it’s hard to determine just who has the strongest influence in any one phase of the kicking game.
Elder isn’t the only Tennessee assistant with coaching options outside of Knoxville. Passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni has been reported as a candidate for the offensive coordinator position at Maryland after D.J. Durkin was hired last week. Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez could have an opportunity at Miami, where his good friend, Mark Richt, was hired last week after parting ways with Georgia.
“It’s not my job to speculate on other programs’ job openings,” Jones said on Monday. “I will say this, when other institutions want to inquire information about our coaches, that is a compliment to what we are building here. We have very good football coaches and even better individuals. People around the country understand what we have done here in a very short period of time and how far we have come. It’s been noticed around the country, but in terms of speculation, it is not my place.”