According to Volquest, Tennessee has hired Mike DeBord as offensive coordinator. DeBord has been the leading candidate since very early in the search, and we've already talked about whether he is the right choice this time around.
Debord has been out of coaching for a couple years now but has a long track record as a coach, spending time as an offensive line coach at Michigan and in the NFL and spending five years as an offensive coordinator at Michigan sandwiched around an unsuccessful run as a head coach at Central Michigan, where Butch Jones was on his staff.
There are plenty of things to be nervous about with this hire. In five years at Michigan, DeBord's offense never cracked the top 25 in scoring. The year the Wolverines won the national title, their offense ranked just 48th, and in two years with one of the NFL's all-time greats at the helm, they were just 42nd and 29th. In DeBord's final season before the coaching staff was replaced, a Michigan squad that started the season ranked in the top five finished just 64th in scoring offense. And beyond the inauspicious on-field results is the simple fact that DeBord hasn't coached football since 2012, when he was a tight ends coach with the Chicago Bears.
But while there are reasons to be nervous, there are positives. DeBord has worked with Jones before, so there is a familiarity between the two. This is a hire for stability, and with the offense returning 10 starters, stability is a good thing. And the simple fact is that the Tennessee offense is Butch Jones' specialty. He wanted someone to call the plays, but he was never going to hire someone to install a new offense. So hiring someone that Jones knows will work with him and not chafe under his restrictions was a necessity.
But the biggest positive from a program perspective is that Butch Jones is running his own ship. DeBord was never going to be a popular hire. He wasn't an exciting name in 2008, and he's not exciting now. But if you want a program driven by what excites the fans, you get Lane Kiffin. This is not a hire that the AD forced on Jones because he needed goodwill. This is Jones running his own program. And when you hire a head coach, you want him running his own program. If the AD is micromanaging, that's bad. If the coach is afraid of the fans, that's bad.
We know Butch Jones can recruit. The jury is still out on his eye for coaching talent, although John Jancek seems to have done better than most predicted, which is nothing but a positive sign. And ultimately, if Jones hires enough bad assistants, he'll eventually be fired. And if he hires enough good assistants--given his recruiting--he'll win championships. But the fortunes of Butch Jones and the Tennessee football program are going to depend on Butch Jones, and that's exactly how it should be. Trust the man in charge to be in charge.