Jim Chaney's last offensive coordinator job is a little different from his new one.
For starters, he called every offensive play during his nine seasons at Purdue. In his new gig as Tennessee's coordinator, coach Lane Kiffin will almost certainly handle the play calls.
And Tennessee's offensive scheme? That belongs to Kiffin, too.
That could be a deal-breaker for some, but Chaney knew what he was getting into when he decided to take the job in January after three seasons as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Rams.
"At 47 years old and put a few years in, my ego isn't so big to have to worry about all that other stuff," Chaney said. "My job is very clear-cut here - to help Lane and this staff achieve the best offense we can. By sitting back and looking and helping the other coaches at their positions and helping coach in all the other stuff we need to do, in my opinion, to make the offense as efficient and productive we can. That's my role."
And while Chaney's role is different, so is the offense he'll spend his time working on.
At Purdue, the Boilermakers helped advance the one-back spread offense behind quarterbacks like Drew Brees, now with the New Orleans Saints, and Kyle Orton, who recently was traded from the Chicago Bears to the Denver Broncos.
"Jim, to me, was ahead of his time a bit with that spread offense," says Greg Olson, who was Purdue's quarterbacks coach from 1997-2000 and hired Chaney when Olson was the Rams' offensive coordinator. "I think the year after I left (for the NFL), Urban Meyer came down to Purdue and learned from Jim. A number of coaches came down and spent a lot of time with Jim to learn it and then they added their own little wrinkles to it."
But three NFL seasons led Chaney to add his own wrinkles to his offensive philosophy. Those pass-happy days at Purdue, when the Boilermakers led the nation in total offense six times in Chaney's nine seasons, are a thing of the past.
"You change as you go through this profession," Chaney says. "We could never get over that hump at Purdue running that style of offense. You can win seven or eight games. I think it's a great equalizer, some of the spread offense. But to achieve maximum goals, personally I don't believe philosophically it's the way to go.
"I think a more balanced, pro-style offense is the way to go. After living through it the last three years (in St. Louis), I feel comfortable that way. That was one of the things when I came down to visit with Coach about (becoming UT's coordinator) was to make sure we're on the same page philosophically. And we've been very, very cohesive that way."
While moving away from the spread might sound like a major departure, Chaney hasn't been afraid of change during his career.
Former Purdue coach Joe Tiller recalls Orton's junior season, when the Boilermakers dialed back their offense and relied on a defense that wound up leading the Big Ten.
"Some fans who liked that wide-open style of football thought that Jim was losing his marbles or something," Tiller said. "The reality of it was that was planned and we talked about it, and we just said this is the best way for us to be successful.
"I bring that up because I think he's a guy that's going to do a good job of adjusting to the talent on hand. I think he'll maximize whatever talent it is that's there."
He'll also find a way to stay within Kiffin's pro-style offense that seeks balance.
Chaney said he hopes to sit down with Kiffin sometime after the spring evaluation period ends and UT's coaches return to Knoxville. Chaney will offer some suggestions and tweaks to the scheme, but at its core UT's offense will be Kiffin's.
"He'll do whatever it takes," Olson said. "If the head coach thinks it's the direction they need to go in order to win, he'll follow that direction.
"I think Lane's real lucky to have him."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.