Tennessee coaching search: Day 22

Tennessee coaching search: Day 22

Football

Tennessee coaching search: Day 22

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee’s coaching search is in day No. 22 and Birmingham-based insider Nick Taylor discusses his thoughts on a handful of coaches that standout to him in relation to Tennessee’s staff vacancy with Vols Wire.

From the coaches below, Taylor views Frank Cignetti Jr., Chip Long and Joe Osovet as being top candidates.

Frank Cignetti Jr. — Green Bay (Quarterbacks)

Cignetti Jr. is part of a staff that is already in transition at Green Bay following Mike McCarthy’s firing as the Packer’s head coach. Cignetti Jr. has a lot of connections with Jeremy Pruitt and Tino Sunseri who currently serves as UT’s quality control analyst.

Cignetti Jr. was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Sunseri played quarterback at Pittsburgh. Tino’s brother, Vinnie, played safety at Alabama under Pruitt from 2011-12. Curt Cignetti, Frank’s brother, served as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Alabama from 2007-10 during the time Pruitt launched his college coaching career at Alabama.

“He has been around the block and he will definitely be available,” Taylor said of Cignetti Jr. “With Frank’s strong ties to Tino Sunseri and Pruitt’s ties to Curt Cignetti from their Alabama days and Vinnie playing at Alabama, he is name to really keep an eye on.”

Darrell Dickey — Texas A&M (Offensive Coordinator)

Dickey came to Texas A&M in 2018 from Memphis where served as offensive coordinator at both schools. Dickey coached alongside UT’s wide receivers coach David Johnson at Memphis.

At the beginning of UT’s search, Curley Hallman, former LSU head coach and Alabama defensive backs coach, discussed Pruitt and his first season alongside his pursuit to replace Helton with Vols Wire.

Hallman was a mentor to Pruitt as he served as a graduate assistant under the former Alabama defensive backs coach in 1997. Hallman had Dickey on his LSU staff from 1991-93.

“Obviously there is a connection with David Johnson from being together at Memphis and with Curley Hallman having had him on his staff at LSU,” Taylor said of Dickey. “Pruitt’s strong relationship with Hallman, there is a connection, but may not be strong enough to leave a place like Texas A&M.”

Chip Long — Notre Dame (Offensive Coordinator)

Long played at North Alabama when Pruitt was coaching in the high school ranks at Fort Payne and at Hoover. Long is an up-and-coming coach that would be available following a potential College Football Playoff game loss against Clemson — if he were to leave. Long also coached with UT wide receiver coach David Johnson at Memphis when he served as offensive coordinator in 2016.

“There is a reason why Notre Dame is 12-0 and that is because of Chip Long,” Taylor said. “He deserves a lot of credit. Tennessee being a rich tradition program, Long would consider making the move because he is not getting a lot of the notoriety he deserves. Tennessee’s in prime position to wait for a guy like Long to finish his season.”

Joe Osovet — Tennessee (Player Development)

Osovet is the only coach on Tennessee’s staff with prior collegiate head coaching experience. With Osovet already within the program, Taylor gave his thoughts on the RPO innovator.

“He’s very talented and has a good resume,” Taylor said of Osovet. “We will have to see if he gets a strong look. With him being on staff already and the search going this long, that sits well with him.

“You have to look at it if you are Jeremy Pruitt and think if Nick Saban can have success with spread tendency offenses, Osovet can bring that there and make for a smooth transition.”

Steve Sarkisian – Atlanta (Offensive Coordinator)

Sarkisian worked with Pruitt at Alabama in 2016 while serving as an analyst and offensive coordinator during the national championship game. His Atlanta job status will be in question as the final games unfold.

“He has a lot of experience and he did a good job at Washington turning the program around,” Taylor said. “This year has not gone as well for him, but it is hard to grade someone off the NFL. I think he would prefer to be back in college right now and with a guy like Pruitt that he has worked with.”

 

 

 

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