Fulmer's final hire

The hiring of Matt Luke to coach tight ends leaves Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer with one vacancy remaining on his coaching staff. The obvious question: How will he fill it?

Since offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is unlikely to remain on the staff more than a couple of years (see my story entitled "Rent-a-coach" elsewhere on this site), I'd like to see Fulmer bring in a coach he can groom to be Cutcliffe's successor.

Bringing in a Kippy Brown, for instance, would enable UT to make a seamless transition when Cutcliffe leaves to become a head coach following the 2006 or 2007 season. Cutcliffe moves out … Brown moves up … Tennessee moves on. That way, Fulmer doesn't find himself launching another coordinator search 12 to 24 months down the road.

Fulmer has a very high regard for Doug Marrone, offensive line coach for the New York Jets. Hiring Marrone to succeed the fired Jimmy Ray Stephens would've provided a natural on-staff successor for Cutcliffe. Fulmer decided to go in another direction, however, promoting Greg Adkins from tight ends/assistant line coach to line coach.

Like Marrone, Kippy Brown is a veteran coach who has proven himself on both the college and professional levels. Like Marrone, he has coached under Fulmer and earned the Vol head man's respect. Like Marrone, Brown could step right into the coordinator's role when Cutcliffe vacates it in a year or two.

Hiring Kippy Brown is a no-brainer. He's an outstanding coach who had a big hand in developing Tennessee's reputation as "Wide Receiver U" a few years back. He's not just a position coach; he's a guy who's capable of providing valuable input that can help Fulmer and Cutcliffe get UT's offense back on track. He's also the kind of guy who could move right in when Cutcliffe moves on.

Kippy, currently on the staff of the NFL's Houston Texans, won't come cheap. He can help insure the Vols don't go 5-6 again next fall, though, and that ought to be worth whatever price tag he carries.

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