According to John Brice of Grid Iron Now, the Tennessee coaching search has narrowed to three sitting defensive coordinators in the SEC. Here’s the quote.
Three candidates are undergoing second interviews with Fulmer’s University of Tennessee contingent in the Big Apple: Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt; Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele; and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
In addition to this, Brice says that Miles, Morris and Venables aren’t in Fulmer’s plans.
Les Miles, Chad Morris and Brent Venables, barring any late-breaking changes, do not appear to be in Fulmer’s plans for UT at this point.
So barring any mystery candidates here, it sure seems like we’ve narrowed the pool down to Jeremy Pruitt, Kevin Steele and Mel Tucker. All three of which are current SEC defensive coordinators. Each candidate has SEC ties.
Of the three, Steele would absolutely be the hardest sell for Fulmer. He’s 59 years old and has that ugly 9-36 record hanging over his head from his days as Baylor’s head coach. However, that stint was 15 years ago.
An easy way to sell Steele would be to pair him with Tee Martin, which Brice reports is in play. Brice says Martin could join “multiple candidates as the Vols’ offensive coordinator.” Martin and Fulmer talked today, per multiple reports.
It continues to be indicated that Tee Martin could “likely be in position” to join the staff of multiple candidates as the Vols’ offensive coordinator. If Martin does not land the Tennessee head coaching position – and he remains in the mix, although on the periphery – it’s obvious there are plenty of people around the program who want to see him back at the school and positioned for the head coaching job in the future.
Pruitt and Tucker seem like the superior candidates to me, simply because of age. Both are in their mid 40s and each have stops at multiple SEC powerhouse programs. Steele gets the “Tennessee guy” label, however. He played linebacker at Tennessee in the late 70s and became a graduate assistant in the early 80s. Steele came back to Tennessee for two years to coach defensive backs in 1987 and 1988.
So will Fulmer go with the Tennessee guy, or opt for a younger assistant like Tucker or Pruitt? According to Brice, we are going to find out in the next 48 hours with a big recruiting weekend coming up.