KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s offensive coordinator search continues on a national level, but there remains a strong possibility the hire could come from within the staff.
A source with knowledge of the search has said former Miami (Fla.) interim head coach Larry Scott emerged as the leading in-house candidate for the job.
Scott managed the Vols’ special teams and tight ends last season in addition to becoming one of the top recruiters in the SEC his first year in the conference.
Coach Butch Jones talked with several potential offensive coordinator hires at the collegiate and NFL level and will continue to meet with others, taking great care to be thorough before making the pivotal hire.
Former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was the most visible offensive coordinators available, but a source indicated Helfrich is not currently among the viable candidates for the Tennessee opening.
The good new for the Vols is Jones has an offensive system in place that doesn’t appear to need fixing or an overhaul.
Tennessee’s offense has been on an upswing since Jones’ took over a program that had won just two of its previous 16 SEC games entering into the 2013 season.
The Vols averaged more points per game from one season to the next each of Jones’ four years at the helm.
The continuity of in-house hire might be too tempting for Jones to resist, particularly after Tennessee set single-season records for touchdowns and points this season despite a barrage of injuries that left only two offensive starters capable of starting every game.
Jones, however, also said that quarterback development would be a priority during the staff transition.
Nick Sheridan, who previously coached the Vols’ quarterbacks as graduate assistant, was hired away to Central Michigan.
If Jones were to promote Scott from within, he would still need to make a hire from outside the staff to work with quarterbacks.
That hire could bring in the new elements Jones referred to when he said he wanted to enhance the current offensive scheme in place.
Or, Jones might still wind up finding an outside coordinator hire that could call the plays and develop the Vols’ quarterback.
The search will continue for Jones, who is operating without the benefit of an active athletic director or chancellor in place that could provide support.