When a team projected to contend for the national title limps home 8-4, changes in the coaching staff are likely. Yet, the latest word on potential changes in the University of Tennessee staff involves two coaches who were expected to stay put.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis and running backs coach Woody McCorvey are being mentioned in connection with the head coaching vacancy at East Carolina
, where Steve Logan recently resigned following a 4-8 season.
Chavis says he has not been contacted by ECU officials but conceded on a Knoxville radio show that he is at an age (46) at which he might consider a ''new challenge.'' A UT grad, he has been a member of the Vol staff since 1989, serving as defensive coordinator since '95.
Chavis turned down a chance to be defensive line coach of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts in 1999 and declined a chance to become linebackers coach of the expansion Houston Texans last winter.
McCorvey, 52, is in his fourth year at UT following a stint at Alabama. He turned down a job coaching the Atlanta Falcons' running backs last year.
Meanwhile, speculation continues that Phillip Fulmer will shake up his coaching staff before spring practice commences in March. Significant changes are unlikely, however. Fulmer has made just two coaching changes during his tenure at Tennessee. He dismissed secondary coach Tim Keane following the 1992 season (reportedly because Keane wasn't too keen on recruiting) and dismissed tight ends coach Mark Bradley two years ago (supposedly due to a personality conflict).