With a couple of names off the board and new jobs opening up, this search has taken on a totally different feel. We may be here for a while, so this feels like as good of a time as ever to reset the board.
Timeline update: Volquest reports that the hire will be made after the early signing period.
(That’s probably a good idea at this point.)
Briles is currently working as Houston’s offensive coordinator. The Cougars finished sixth in total offense in 2018, averaging just north of 46 points per game. That production earned Briles a new contract, reportedly worth 2.1 million dollars over the span of three years. His new deal was signed on Monday, December 3rd.
Update: Briles is expected to interview with Jeremy Pruitt for the job, per 247 Sports.
Update (12/7): Chris Low also reports that Tennessee is interested in Briles and will interview him on Friday.
Update (12/7): Bruce Feldman says the Vols are interested, but Briles wants to bring his own OL coach.
#Tennessee is very interested in hiring Kendal Briles for its OC vacancy. One potential snag is he'd like to bring his OL coach/run game coordinator Randy Clements from UH, another former Baylor guy, with him. And Pruitt likes his own OL coach.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 7, 2018
Yurcich climbed pretty quickly through the coaching ranks, making the jump from Shippensburg University to Oklahoma State as an offensive coordinator back in 2013. Since then, Oklahoma State hasn’t missed a beat offensively.
The Cowboys just put together another season inside of the top ten in total offense, putting up 500 yards of offense per game. Yurcich received a raise back in June, bringing his salary to $800,000 annually. Considering Tennessee paid Tyson Helton 1.2 million last year, they should be able to increase that number for Yurcich.
Update: John Brice and Jimmy Hyams report that Tennessee could have interest in Yurcich.
Update (12/7): Chris Low says that Yurcich is a guy that Jeremy Pruitt has talked to.
Lebby’s name surfaced over the weekend in a report from John Brice. Lebby is the brother-in-law of Kendal Briles, who has also been connected to this search. Lebby spent nine seasons at Baylor working under Art Briles. He was the offensive coordinator at Southeastern University in 2017 and spent 2018 as an offensive assistant at UCF.
The longer this drags out, the more of an option Freddie Kitchens could become. The NFL’s coaching carousel’s timeline begins about a month after college football’s. Could Tennessee really wait that long for Kitchens? That would mean going through the early signing period without an offensive coordinator in place.
Kitchens has done outstanding work with Baker Mayfield and the Browns since taking over the offense after Hue Jackson got fired. That small sample size could very well have him in play for more NFL offensive coordinator jobs, if he’s not retained by the new head coach in Cleveland.
If he does come available, would Pruitt have enough pull to bring him back to the college ranks? The two remain close and are former college teammates. I’m still not sure how realistic this timeline is, but Tennessee doesn’t exactly seem to be in a hurry either.
Dominos that have fallen: Eli Drinkwitz (HC App State), Dan Enos OC Alabama), Hugh Freeze (HC Liberty), Chip Lindsey (OC Auburn)
As usual, we’ll keep an eye out and add any names that gain traction along the way.