KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer has spoken to Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin about a possible coaching position with the Vols in the past 24 hours, a source with direct knowledge of the conversation tells SEC Country.
The phone conversation “was very positive,” according to the source, but there were no deals reached between the men for a head coaching position nor an offensive coordinator position at the time of this report Tuesday afternoon.
Martin, 39, has enjoyed great success at USC. But whether his connection to the Vols, whom he quarterbacked to the 1998 national championship under Fulmer, is strong enough to pull him back to Knoxville is unclear. Martin has told those close to him he’s not in any rush to leave the Trojans staff, with the program having just won the Pac-12 championship under coach Clay Helton.
Martin has also said, however, he would entertain the notion of returning to Tennessee “under the right circumstances,” according to the source.
My thought is Tee Martin would need more than just an OC role or title to justify leaving USC for Tennessee — Tee would be a home run hire, but Phillip Fulmer needs to find a way to make sure it would make sense for the USC OC.
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 5, 2017
Fulmer is believed to be leaning toward hiring a coach with a defensive background, with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables believed to be finalists.
Martin’s oldest son, Amari Rodgers, is a freshman wide receiver at Clemson. Martin is acquainted with Venables from Rodgers’ recruitment by the Tigers.
NFL teams have also expressed interest in Martin. A look at USC’s coaching tree provides ample evidence of the opportunities that could lie ahead for Martin. Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian are among the most notable former Trojans coaches to leave there and go on to other notable coaching positions in the college ranks and the NFL.
Fulmer has not put a timetable on hiring a coach, but a source close to the situation said the hire is expected to be made in the next 48 hours.
Tennessee is hosting recruits on official visits this weekend, and the early signing period begins Dec. 20.