Top Candidates to Replace John Jancek as Tennessee Defensive Coordinator

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2016

Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Bowling Green Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Yet another school is in need of someone to run its defense after Tennessee announced on Wednesday that it has "mutually agreed to part ways" with defensive coordinator John Jancek.

Jancek had been the Volunteers' top defensive assistant since 2013, coming to Rocky Top from Cincinnati with head coach Butch Jones. That duo worked together for three seasons at Cincinnati and was on the Central Michigan staff in 2003-04.

Under Jancek, Tennessee ranked 36th nationally in total defense during the 2015 season, allowing 362 yards per game. During a six-game win streak to end the season, the Vols held opponents to 14.8 points and 303.8 yards per game. On Jan. 1, they held Northwestern to six points en route to a blowout win in the Outback Bowl.

The move comes at a time when several other power programs are also in need of defensive coordinators, including SEC schools Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina. With all of that competition, where will Tennessee look?

Here are a few notable candidates the school is likely to consider.

Bob Shoop, Penn State defensive coordinator

As soon as news broke that Jancek was out at Tennessee, Shoop's name was mentioned so much on Twitter that it's surprising he wasn't trending in Knoxville, as noted by SB Nation's Matt Brown:

Shoop is coming off a stellar year at Penn State, with his unit ranking 14th in total defense and second in sacks with 46. But he's going to be rebuilding up front, as three-quarters of the Nittany Lions' stellar defensive line is either graduating or turning pro.

At Tennessee, he'd be inheriting a rising defense that should bring back eight starters unless linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin or defensive back Cameron Sutton returns.

Shoop has been at Penn State for the past two seasons, coming over from Vanderbilt, where he worked with James Franklin from 2011-13. It could be expensive to lure him away, though, as he reportedly got a raise to near $1 million per season last January after LSU inquired about his services.

Jancek was making $520,000 per year, according to USA Today's assistant coach salary database.

John Chavis, Texas A&M defensive coordinator

Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

The SEC seems to have its own mini-carousel when it comes to coaching moves, with Georgia and South Carolina hiring its head coaches from the staffs of other schools in the conference this offseason.

This also extends to defensive coordinators, as Alabama is replacing Kirby Smart with Georgia's Jeremy Pruitt and Auburn hired Kevin Steele away from LSU to replace Will Muschamp.

And the year before that, Texas A&M lured Chavis away from LSU in a move that led to a lawsuit.

Chavis made noticeable progress with the Aggies defense in 2015, bumping it from 104th the year before to 51st. It allowed 21.9 points per game in SEC play, fifth-best in the league and almost 15 points better than the previous season.

But A&M is a program in turmoil right now, losing two quarterbacks to transfers and in search of an offensive coordinator. With the shocking resignation of athletic director Eric Hyman on Tuesday, it might be the right time for Chavis to jump ship as well.

Tennessee is very familiar with Chavis, as he was a player for the Volunteers in the late 1970s and spent 20 seasons (1989-2008) there as a coach, including 14 seasons as Phillip Fulmer's defensive coordinator.

Todd Orlando, Houston defensive coordinator

Head coach Tom Herman got most of the praise for what Houston accomplished in his first season at the helm, winning 13 games and beating Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

But without the effort of the Cougars defense, guided by Orlando, landing that New Year's Six bowl slot likely wouldn't have happened.

Houston led the nation in turnovers forced in 2015 with 35, including five against Florida State. The Cougars' run defense was eighth-best in FBS, allowing 108.9 yards per game, and they shut out a Vanderbilt team that scored 28 points against the Volunteers.

Prior to joining Houston, Orlando spent two seasons as Utah State's defensive coordinator and has also run defenses at Florida International (2011-12) and Connecticut (2005-10).

Statistics courtesy of

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.


    Vols Offer 3-Star 2019 Florida QB Brian Maurer

    Tennessee Volunteers Football logo
    Tennessee Volunteers Football

    Vols Offer 3-Star 2019 Florida QB Brian Maurer

    All for Tennessee
    via All for Tennessee

    LSU Lands No. 1 CB of 2019 Derek Stingley

    College Football logo
    College Football

    LSU Lands No. 1 CB of 2019 Derek Stingley

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Athlon Ranks Every FBS Team for 2018 👀

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Athlon Ranks Every FBS Team for 2018 👀

    Recruits, Be Warned. Frost Is Watching Your Social Media

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Recruits, Be Warned. Frost Is Watching Your Social Media

    Sam McKewon