Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema Still Making Smart Moves with Jim Chaney Hire

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 13, 2012

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim ChaneyRandy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

One day after new Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema hired Chris Ash to coordinate the Razorback defense, he tabbed former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to take control of the offense, according to a release from the university.

Chaney was the brains behind the 2012 Tennessee offense, which finished second in the SEC in total offense with a 475.9 yards per game average.

"He knows the SEC, having coached at Tennessee, and is familiar with what it takes to be successful in this conference," said Bielema. "He is an upbeat and positive person who has proven at every stop he is an elite coach in our profession."

That's not hyperbole—he really is.

Chaney may be guilty by association for being a part of the Derek Dooley/Tennessee debacle, but he was one of the lone bright spots of the Vols in 2012.

It's a great hire for Bielema.

Tennessee posted the second-best passing attack in the SEC in 2012 with an average of 315.6 YPG, with future NFL stars Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson lining up outside. He did so with quarterback Tyler Bray seemingly creating as many headaches as highlights, despite leading the SEC with 3,612 yards and 34 touchdown passes.

The Vols' rushing offense improved by more than 70 YPG from 2011 to 2012, despite losing Tauren Poole and moving Rajion Neal back to running back from wide receiver on a full-time basis.

He has worked with several talented quarterbacks in the past, including current New Orleans Saints signal-caller Drew Brees during his time at Purdue.

Chaney has proven that he can be a successful coordinator in the SEC even when times are tough, is familiar with the current recruiting landscape and can help ease the transition for Bielema and his staff from Wisconsin to the SEC.

However, it will take some time to turn the Hogs around.

With quarterback Tyler Wilson, wide receiver Chris Gragg, wide reciever Cobi Hamilton and running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson gone, 2013 is going to be a rebuilding year in Fayetteville.

Patience will be important with the new staff, particularly on offense.

Don't be influenced by the fact that Chaney was part of Dooley's staff at Tennessee, because he wasn't the problem in 2012. It's a solid hire for Bielema.


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