Vol staff an unusual mix

University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer enters the 2007 season with an intriguing staff makeup. His defensive aides are a bunch of grizzled veterans, while his offensive staff features a bunch of relative newcomers.

Both offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe (52) and defensive coordinator John Chavis (50) are in their 19th year on The Hill. If you discount them, the Vols' three longest-serving position coaches are all defensive aides. Tackles coach Dan Brooks is in Year 14 and ends coach Steve Caldwell in year 13. Secondary coach Larry Slade is embarking on Year 9. That's an average of exactly 12 years' service per man.

Brooks (56), Slade (56) and Caldwell (51) also are the three oldest members of Fulmer's staff. They average better than 54 years per man.

Conversely, the four newest Vol assistants all work on the offensive side of the ball. Line coach Greg Adkins is in Year 5 and wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor in Year 4. Both running backs coach Kurt Roper and tight ends coach Matt Luke are starting Year 2 in Knoxville. That's an average of just over three years per man on the Vol staff.

Adkins (39), Taylor (37), Roper (32, as of July 25) and Luke (30) also are the four youngest members of Fulmer's staff. Their average age is 34½ years, making them nearly 20 years per man younger than UT's defensive aides.

Regardless, athletics director Mike Hamilton recently appropriated $161,000 in raises for the Vol aides, saying the pay hikes "show our commitment to the staff and that we believe in what our coaches are doing."

Fulmer divided the raise money as follows: Cutcliffe $40,000, Taylor $36,790, Chavis $25,000, Roper $17,500, Adkins $9,986, Brooks $8,922, Slade $8,817, Caldwell $8,500 and Luke $2,500.

"If you look at the defensive side of the ball, it's somewhat of a reward for loyalty and longevity," Hamilton said.

Although Tennessee's offensive staffers are a bit inexperienced, the athletics director also has a high level of confidence in them.

"We have a very good, young staff on the offensive side of the ball," Hamilton said, "and I believe we're pointing toward some good things over the next few years."

Fulmer, who got a two-year contract extension following the 2006 season, expressed gratitude for Hamilton's show of faith in the Vol staff.

"I'm excited about the assistant coaches having the contracts they have," the head man said. "That came from the efforts of our administration, and that's a great statement of support."

(NOTE: An earlier story reported that Cutcliffe and Chavis received pay increases based on their escalating contracts with Adidas but no raises from UT. In fact, both coordinators did receive pay hikes.)

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