When it was announced Tennessee tight ends and special teams coach Mark Elder was leaving to become the head coach at Eastern Kentucky, you probably weren't thinking, "That's fine, Tennessee will just replace him with the interim head coach at Miami who went 4-1 to close out the regular season."
Shows what we know. Today the Vols made a big hire by bringing in Larry Scott as the program's new tight ends coach.
Scott served as Miami's interim after Al Golden was fired following a 59-0 loss to Clemson on October 24. From there, Scott led the Hurricanes past #22 Duke thanks to their wild kickoff return, beat Virginia, lost at eventual division champion North Carolina, then beat Georgia Tech and won at Pittsburgh. The Canes were narrowly defeated by Washington State in the Sun Bowl.
This was Scott's third year as Miami's tight ends coach. UT's official release notes last year Hurricane tight ends caught 52 passes for 833 yards this year. This year they caught 48 passes for 702 yards. By comparison, this year Tennessee tight ends caught 31 passes for 418 yards.
Much of Elder's praise came in the special teams game, where Tennessee almost certainly had the best overall unit in college football this year. Scott's duties do not include special teams at this time, at least one puzzle piece left for Butch Jones to fill in. This hire does fill the only current opening on staff, and could leave graduate assistant Nick Sheridan in limbo, believed by some to become the quarterback coach when Elder left. There could still be some movement on Tennessee's staff overall as well.
But with Scott you get a strong south Florida connection: he played for and spent eight years as an assistant with the Bulls before moving to Miami. This will no doubt help in recruiting. But overall it represents a big get for Tennessee, scoring a guy who was successful at a major program on an interim head coach level and having him as your tight ends coach. Tennessee's commitment to winning is going to have to include a larger pool for assistant coaches to keep up with the rest of the SEC elite. We don't know how the dollars will shake out for the whole staff just yet, but in coaching value this is a great hire.