Volunteer offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is in the same position as head coach, Derek Dooley. They are both on the proverbial hot seat as fall practice picks up the pace with more situational work.
Coach Chaney is the only holdover from the staff originally hired by former Volunteer—now current Southern California coach, Lane Kiffin. When Dooley took the job at Tennessee, he asked Chaney to stay on as offensive coordinator.
That was one of the very good decisions in what turned out to be a mixed bag of decisions coach Dooley made early on. Now as the third year arrives for Tennessee football under the Dooley administration, that decision is going to start paying off in ways the fans can see. That is an appropriate statement because the decision has always paid dividends that were not as easily seen.
For one, the guy is a tireless and very successful recruiter. So, getting out of the talent hole the Vols were in was a huge job—which Coach Chaney played a big part in.
By the way, that job is still going on. It is a never ending job that successful college coaches are good at. Coach Dooley has assured the fan base that the Vols have dug their way out to a point where they can compete with any team again.
Still, the momentum must keep going forward to get back amongst the elite ranks in college football.
Some look at the UT offense through the three years Chaney has been here and question what is the big deal with this guy? Total yards, total rush yards and total points have all dropped each of the three seasons under Coach Chaney.
To those fans who were saying in 2011, "I'm tired of excuses, they need to win now." Sorry guys, it just doesn't work that way when the talent level has fallen off. You can put Nick Saban and his whole staff in at Akron and they will still be Akron this year. Yes, they would win games they normally lose but no, they would not finish a top ten team.
Now, give that staff the budget, facilities and support you get at an Alabama or Tennessee and they will recruit Akron right out of the cellar. By year three or four, it would be a top 10 team.
For proof of Chaney's offensive coaching ability when he has proportional talent, simply look at the rankings when he was at Purdue:
1997: 13th passing, 7th total offense
1998: 7th passing, 16th total offense
1999: 4th passing, 8th total offense
2000: 6th passing, 4th total offense
2002: 31st passing, 7th total offense
2004: 4th passing, 13th total offense
Those are total in the nation—at Purdue University! Three of those years (1998, 1999, 2000) were with Drew Brees, who Chaney recruited and developed into a Heisman candidate. Also, while the passing numbers were very good, so were the rush numbers.
Tennessee's offensive numbers have been down because Chaney and the other coaches didn't have the players to properly do the job. Now that the situation has changed, expect the payoff to begin. Expect the offensive numbers to start getting back on tract.
How that is divided between run and pass remains to be seen.
You have to expect with a quarterback and receivers as talented as UT has, it may be a little on the pass happy side. That is all good as long as defenses respect the run and they score better than 35 a game on average—OK, OK, how about 31?