The Tennessee Volunteers coaching staff has lost its lone alumnus. Running backs coach and former player Jay Graham, who arrived in Knoxville just a year ago, has decided to take a job as an offensive assistant at Florida State.
The news was released earlier this morning by Warchant.com, the Rivals affiliate of Florida State.
Graham was integral to improving a running game that ranked dead last in the SEC in rushing each of the two years prior to his arrival in 2012. Tennessee improved to eighth out of 14 teams in one year under Graham's tutelage.
This marks the second time a Vol legacy has chosen to spurn the Vols for an opportunity elsewhere. In December, former quarterback Tee Martin opted to remain in Los Angeles with Lane Kiffin to coach wide receivers for USC.
The departure is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. I understand that wiggling your way to the top is necessary in the coaching profession, and he'll rejoin his old position position coach Randy Sanders in Tallahassee. But wouldn't Graham be wise to spend just another year or two in one spot?
Since 2005, he has had eight different jobs at seven different schools. That's eight jobs in 13 years.
So much for stability.
While Graham's mark on the running game was undeniable, in two recruiting seasons at Tennessee, he wasn't able to secure an elite running back. This remains his lone blemish as a Volunteer coach.
With spring practice set to start March 9, Butch Jones needs to festina lente—hurry slowly. Yes, you need to fill the vacancy soon, but the priority is finding a good fit, and if that takes time, so be it.
Jones, as is the norm for him, is confident and positive about the prospects for the future:
The process of adding a new coach to our staff is underway, and we will hire the best person possible as we continue to build our program.— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) February 25, 2013
As long as Jones is wearing orange, the Volunteers can stand to lose a position coach here or there.