KNOXVILLE – Tennessee head coach Butch Jones reportedly assembled most of his staff within a few days of taking the job.
On Thursday, the school officially confirmed that Jones has assembled a staff of eight assistants, one short of the maximum of nine full-time assistants allowed per NCAA rules. After former UT quarterback Tee Martin turned down the wide receivers job earlier this week, it's listed as “TBA.”
There are no huge surprises. Jones is bringing five assistant coaches with him from Cincinnati – defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Jancek, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian, tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Mark Elder, offensive line coach Don Mahoney and defensive line coach/assistant head coach Steve Stripling.
Running backs coach Jay Graham was retained from former coach Derek Dooley’s staff. Cornerbacks coach Tommy Thigpen and safeties coach Willie Martinez were brought in from Auburn after they were dismissed by its new head coach, Gus Malzahn.
Dave Lawson, who was also at Cincinnati, is the new strength and conditioning coach.
"I am very excited about the staff we have been able to attract here to the University of Tennessee," Jones said on Thursday. "I said at my press conference that it would start with effective communicators, great teachers and individuals that could be become role models to our players. This staff features individuals are that fundamentalists in their techniques of the game and great recruiters who have a passion to be at Tennessee.
“We have been able to assemble a championship staff. When you look at the experience of these coaches over their careers, there is a great amount of continuity and familiarity.”
Nooga.com has already profiled Bajakian (here) and will continue to have full profiles of each new coach over the next week. Here’s a list of Tennessee’s new staff with a few notes on each:
Mike Bajakian: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
• Two-time Broyles Award (top assistant coach) nominee; named CBSSports.com’s best offensive coordinator in the Big East before the 2012 season
• Has been Jones’ offensive coordinator for the last six years
• Was a quality control coach for the Chicago Bears and was on their staff during Super Bowl XLI
John Jancek: Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach
• Spent the last three years in the same position under Jones at Cincinnati
• Coached at Georgia from 2005-08; was co-defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs in 2009
• Coached in seven bowl games, won five conference championships, one SEC championship and one D-II national championship
Mark Elder: Tight ends coach/special teams coordinator
• Has coached tight ends, running backs, special teams, linebackers, defensive backs and has been a defensive coordinator during his career
• Has been an assistant to Jones since 2007
Jay Graham: Running backs coach
• Was the only coach retained from last season
• Played at UT as a running back from 1993-96; ranks seventh on UT’s all-time rushing list with 2,609 yards
• Coached running backs at South Carolina from 2009-11; mentored All-American Marcus Lattimore
Don Mahoney: Offensive line coach
• Has been an assistant to Jones since 2007
• Led an offensive line that has averaged 189.1 rushing yards per game the last two seasons, good for first in the Big East
• Coached the offensive line at Tulane from 1999-2006
Willie Martinez: Safeties coach
• Served as Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2005-09
• Was in charged of Oklahoma’s secondary from 2010-11 and Auburn’s in 2012
• Won a national championship as a player at Miami in 1983
Steve Stripling: Assistant head coach/defensive line coach
• Has been Jones’ assistant head coach since 2009
• Was interim head coach at Central Michigan when Jones left for Cincinnati in 2009 and is holding the same role for Cincinnati this season through its bowl game on Dec. 27
• Also had stops as a defensive line coach or linebackers coach at Michigan, Louisville, Michigan State and Indiana
Tommy Thigpen: Cornerbacks coach
• Won the 2010 BCS National Championship as an assistant coach at Auburn
• Has coached linebackers, safeties or cornerbacks at Auburn, North Carolina, Illinois and Bowling Green
• Chosen one of Rivals.com’s Top 25 Recruiters in 2007
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @Daniel_LewisCBS
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