TAMPA, Fla. — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has interviewed at least two new candidates to replace offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe. A third — and a more familiar name — could soon surface.
Michigan quarterbacks coach Scott Loeffler met with Fulmer here this week as the Vols prepare for Tuesday’s Outback Bowl against Wisconsin, a source within the program said. Michigan is preparing to play Florida in the Capital One Bowl in nearby Orlando.
Only running backs coach Fred Jackson was retained from Michigan’s coaching staff by new coach Rich Rodriguez.
Fulmer has also spoken with San Francisco 49ers quarterback coach Frank Cignetti, the source said.
Also, UT receivers coach Trooper Taylor would reconsider his decision to leave the Vols for the co-coordinator position at Oklahoma State, the source said, if he became a candidate.
Taylor was never offered the coordinator position at UT.
It is unknown if Fulmer, who did not return phone calls or text messages from the News Sentinel on Sunday, would re-consider Taylor now that Kippy Brown appears to no longer be a candidate.
Brown, who was reported by the News Sentinel to be the leading candidate for the job, is expected to named offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, according to multiple media reports. He has been receivers coach for the Lions for two seasons. The same multiple media reports claimed that offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be fired.
Brown’s decision not to return to UT, where he coached receivers in 1983-98 and 1993-94, is thought to be centered around Fulmer’s reluctance to allow Brown to hire his own offensive staff.
Final negotiations were ongoing with Brown late last week. Compensation was not thought to be an issue. Since leaving UT in 1994, Brown has primarily been a position coach in the NFL, although he was offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins from 1998-99.
Fulmer has said he’d like to have a complete offensive staff in place by Jan. 11, when UT will host a significant group of official visitors. UT’s coaches are scheduled to be on the road recruiting the following week. Meeting that deadline seems less likely now that Brown has been eliminated.
UT is also expected to lose running backs coach Kurt Roper and assistant offensive line/tight ends coach Matt Luke. The pair will join Cutcliffe at Duke. Roper is expected to be named offensive coordinator and Luke will be offensive line coach.
Fulmer has also interviewed Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence on Dec. 21 in Knoxville. Spence, who said he was never offered a job by UT, announced Saturday he was withdrawing his name and remaining at Clemson.
Cignetti, 42, has been with the 49ers for one season. He was offensive coordinator for North Carolina in 2006 and spent the four previous years as offensive cooridnator at Fresno State.
He spent two seasons (2000-01) as quarterbacks coach for the New Orleans Saints. He joined the Saints after coaching one season as an offensive assistant and quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.
From 1990-98, Cignetti was an assistant at his alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he coached receivers (1990-92), secondary (1993-94), quarterbacks (1995-98) and was elevated to offensive coordinator during his final two seasons.
Cignetti got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989.
Cignetti’s father, Frank, recently retired after 24 seasons as the coach at IUP and West Virginia.
Loeffler, 33, has been on Michigan’s staff the past six years, returning to his alma mater in 2002 after two seasons as quarterbacks coach at Central Michigan.
Loeffler spent 1993-99 with Michigan as backup quarterback (1993-95), as a student assistant (1996-97) when a shoulder injury ended his playing career and as a graduate assistant (1998-99).