John Jancek’s sudden departure as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator came as a surprise. While Jancek wasn’t considered a dominant defensive coach, the Vols had performed admirably during his three seasons with the team. Tennessee showed consistent improvement with a roster bereft of talent.
However, the Vols have more power to hire a coach than they did in 2013, which was Jones’ first season as a head coach of a rebuilding program.
Here are some possible replacements for Jancek:
North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik
Chizik has more panache than any other coach on this list, given that he was head coach when Auburn won a national title following the 2010 season. However, things went south after that with a 3-9 season in 2012. Still, Chizik has an impressive resume. He’s was the defensive coordinator at Auburn twice and once at Texas. Chizik became the defensive coordinator at North Carolina last season. It’s unclear if he’d be ready to make another jump quite so quickly.
Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis
This would be a heart-warming hire for Tennessee fans longing for past glory days. Chavis coached at Tennessee from 1989-2008 and was the defensive coordinator for his final 14 seasons in Knoxville, helping lead the Vols to a national title in 1998. He also played for the Vols. Chavis has since been the defensive coordinator at LSU and, more recently, A&M. Would he be willing to consider a return home where much of his family still lives? It’s probably worth a phone call, especially since the Aggies appear to be sliding.
Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop
Shoop is considered one of the top, young defensive coordinators in the nation. He reportedly turned down an offer recently to join Auburn’s staff. Shoop knows the SEC thanks to his time at Vanderbilt from 2011-13. Shoop would be considered a fantastic hire but he seems tied to Penn State, where he has built a strong defense despite severe scholarship restrictions.
Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Lance Thompson
Thompson coached at Tennessee during Lane Kiffin’s one season. Thompson was one of the few holdovers from that staff to Tennessee’s next coach Derek Dooley. Thompson was recently hired by South Carolina as its defensive coordinator. Is he ready to be a coordinator? Many believe that Thompson was heavily involved with the Vols’ defensive front after the LSU debacle in which the Vols sent far too many defensive linemen on the field in a clutch situation. Thompson is also considered a fantastic recruiter, especially in the Atlanta area.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack
Wommack has been Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator for four seasons. He has helped coach his teams to over 20 bowl games and over 30 winning seasons. Wommack has been a four-time candidate for the Frank Broyles Award, which is designated to the top assistant coach in college football. Statistically, Wommack has helped lead the Rebels to become one of the most highly rated defenses in college football during his time in Oxford. He’d be a fantastic hire for most any school in the country.
Former Southern California defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox
Wilcox left Tennessee after the 2011 season when things appeared to be on shaky grounds. However, he was thought to have done a mostly impressive job given the lack of talent Tennessee had at the time. Wilcox wasn’t retained last season by Southern California. He may not be the Vols’ first selection but he’s worth consideration. And he’s available.