We don’t know yet when Butch Jones will pull the trigger on his biggest coaching hire this offseason, but we do know some of the candidates who have caught his attention. Reportedly.
According to Jimmy Hyams of radio station WNML in Knoxville, Jones has interviewed five outside candidates for the Vols’ vacancy at offensive coordinator: current Michigan administrator and former UM coordinator Mike DeBord, as well as 2014 coordinators Matt Canada (North Carolina State), Clay Helton (USC), Noel Mazzone (UCLA) and Kurt Roper (not retained at Florida). Additionally, UT wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni is listed by Hyams as a candidate as well.
Hyams notes that Jones has interviewed those individuals in locations such as Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas.
Of the reported candidates, Mazzone and Helton would be the most noteworthy.
Mazzone has spent the past three seasons as the Bruins coordinator. During those three seasons, the Bruins finished 37th (33.5 ppg, 2014), 21st (36.9 ppg, 2013) and 31st (34.4 ppg) in scoring; in the two years prior to Mazzone’s arrival, the Bruins were 88th (23.1 ppg, 2012) and 103rd (20.1 ppg) in that category.
Helton has spent the past five seasons as the Trojans’ coordinator/quarterbacks coach. In his first season under new head coach Steve Sarkisian, Helton did not hold play-calling responsibilities.
Jones, incidentally, was on DeBord’s coaching staff at CMU from 2000-03. DeBord has been out of the coaching game since serving as the tight ends coach of the Chicago Bears in 2012. Hyams notes, though, that DeBord has NFL opportunities from which to potentially choose as well.
Whoever it is that Jones hires will replace Mike Bajakian, who left to to take the quarterbacks coach job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month.