Tennessee Football: No Bowl, but Plenty of Coaching Turnover on Rocky Top
When Tennessee's miserable 2011 season came to a merciful end following the Vols' first loss to Kentucky since 1984, many expected there to be plenty of news surrounding Derek Dooley's coaching staff over the next few weeks.
Since the final seconds ticked off the clock in Lexington, two coaches have left, seemingly of their own accord.
Less than a week after the season ended, veteran wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett retired. Dooley hired former Vols running back Jay Graham to coach his old position after Baggett's exit became official.
It was recently reported that Vols special teams coach Eric Russell had accepted a position on Mike Leach's staff at Washington State.
Now, after weeks of speculation, it appears that Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox could be at or near the top of Arizona State's wish list for its open head coach position.
With the move of former quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw to wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney expected to takeover the quarterbacks coaching position, it appears Dooley will have to replace Russell and possibly Wilcox in the next few weeks.
As bad as Tennessee's special teams were in 2011 with a coach, try and imagine the team without a special teams coach.
Russell's departure is not nearly biggest hole Dooley will have to fill should the Wilcox rumors come to fruition.
Which assistant coach can the Vols least afford to lose?
The former Boise State assistant has been at Tennessee for both of Dooley's first two seasons in Knoxville. Even before accepting the job at Tennessee, Wilcox was thought of very highly among the top young, up-and-coming assistants in the nation.
Wilcox's two young, depth-less defenses at Tennessee have been overachieving units.
What's more interesting in the whole musical coaches situation going on at Tennessee is the fact that Dooley has reportedly had nothing to do with either of the two confirmed departures.
Many expected offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to be the first coach dismissed by Dooley based on the lackluster performance of the Vols' running game throughout the season. Yet, nearly three weeks after the season ended, Hiestand still has a job and is still presumably on the road recruiting for Tennessee.
It appears, however, that the turnover on Tennessee's staff will keep the Vols' program in the news despite the fact that the team won't play in a bowl game for the third time since 2005.
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