Wide receivers coach Latrell Scott has been hired by Virginia, where he will fill the same role he did in his lone season at UT.
The Vols' entire 2008 defensive staff – coordinator John Chavis, tackles coach Dan Brooks, ends coach Steve Caldwell and secondary coach Larry Slade – was let go earlier. And, of course, head coach Phillip Fulmer cleaned out his office mere hours after the season finale vs. Kentucky.
That means only tight ends coach Jason Michael and running backs coach Stan Drayton remain from the '08 crew, and Michael reportedly is looking at a return to the NFL, where he coached from 2005-2007.
For the moment at least, it appears that Drayton will be the only holdover from Fulmer's 2008 staff retained by new head coach Lane Kiffin. That's probably a good idea for several reasons:
- Drayton is an exceptional recruiter with strong ties in talent-rich Florida. If Tennessee is to reclaim its status as a top-10 program nationally the Vols must recruit better than they have the past few years.
- Drayton is an African-American. Releasing him would leave Tennessee's staff without minority representation, and if you think opposing recruiters wouldn't use that against the Vols in the coming weeks, think again.
- Drayton did a good job coaching UT running backs last fall. Even with no help from an utterly inept passing game, Vol backs Arian Foster (4.4 yards per carry), Lennon Creer (5.3 per carry) and Montario Hardesty (6 touchdowns among his 76 carries) managed to be reasonably productive.
I have a lot of respect for the members of Tennessee's 2008 staff that will not be back for '09. At the same time, I can understand Kiffin's reluctance to retain them. Chavis, after 14 years as Fulmer's defensive coordinator, was fiercely loyal to his former boss. Brooks (15 years), Caldwell (14) and Slade (10) also had strong ties to the ousted head man. Besides, when your dad is Monte Kiffin, you might as well turn the defense over to him and let him bring in whatever staffers he wants.
Adkins' offensive linemen underachieved in 2008, but I thought he might have saved his job when he helped get a commitment from four-star prospect Eric Gordon of Nashville. I was wrong.
Scott's receivers also underachieved in '08 but I thought his recruiting ties in Virginia might earn him a spot on the '09 Vol staff. I was wrong again.
Ultimately, the program now belongs to Lane Kiffin, and he should hire the staffers he wants, without regard to who was here previously. As the departure of Greg Adkins and Latrell Scott indicates, the new head coach is doing just that.