Barry was blessed to enter the 2002 season with a strong returning offensive line and tons of talent coming in as true freshmen. He spent several extra hours working with the likes of freshmen Rob Smith and Cody Douglas in hopes of having them in the main O-line rotation going into the 2003 season.
Inconsistent play by guards and centers, Barry's main area of coaching, left questions surrounding his position on the staff. The aforementioned combined with a rumored questionable desire to be coaching at Tennessee, today's announcement was not a complete surprise. The lackluster play by his players was mostly inpart because of injuries sustained by frontmen Chavis Smith, Jason Respert and Anthony Herrera.
Barry's slot will be filled for the moment by tackles/tight ends coach Jimmy Ray Stephens. It is unclear who will be a replacement, but there is speculation that former Tennessee assistant Doug Marrone returning to Knoxville is a possibility. Marrone is currently on the New York Jets staff that is in the middle of the NFL playoffs, so a timetable on Marrone is surely up in the air at this point.
Barry said this upon his departure, "I want to thank Phillip (Fulmer) and the University of Tennessee for the opportunity to be a part of this fine program. I enjoyed working with Coach Fulmer, his staff and especially the players. It is truly a great place. I simply feel at this time there are other opportunities to pursue in or out of coaching."
Head coach Phillip Fulmer also commented on Barry's tenure as an assistant. "Mike did a good job for us and I wish him well in his pursuits. He was a part of our national championship team, two SEC championships and three Eastern Division titles, and I appreciate his contributions."
The former Vol aide could possibly be looking to break into a broadcasting role. In ESPN's pregame coverage of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the station asked Barry to breakdown the offensive philosophies of Ohio State and Miami. Barry will also be widely questioned by many schools and teams about his interest in coaching on their respective staff.
Stay tuned to InsideTennessee.com for more on the coaching situation and Barry's departure.