'Country guy' Chaney says it's time to roll at UT

(Editor's note: This is the second of a nine-part series as the News Sentinel takes a closer look at Tennessee's new assistant football coaches.)

For the last four months, Jim Chaney's life has centered around football. Unless, of course, the focus shifts to football recruiting.

Since arriving in Knoxville in January, Chaney's world has revolved around football the way the earth orbits the sun.

About the only break is a Webcam chat with his wife and two daughters each morning. Other than that, Tennessee's new offensive coordinator is devoted to football, either on the practice field or inside the football offices in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.

"Quite honestly, I think sometimes when you relocate and the family stays behind, that's a good thing in a lot of ways," said Chaney, 47, whose family will soon join him. "Right now in this period in our transition into Tennessee, it needs to be all football. That's all I've thought about for four and a half months - Tennessee football.

"Coming into this thing, it's all been enthusiasm. It's all been energy. It's been fun. Time to roll."

And keep them rolling, too.

For all the time spent on football, Chaney's a devoted family man and a deep thinker in possession of a razor wit.

For all the homespun tales about growing up on a farm in a small Missouri town, Chaney's nearly always one of the smartest and funniest guys in the room.

"You're thinking, here's just a country guy from Missouri, a pig farmer from Missouri," says Greg Olson, who coached with Chaney for seven seasons at Purdue and with the St. Louis Rams. "It may not come across right away, but you spend any amount of time with Jim Chaney and you realize here's a real sharp, sharp person."

The Lifer

Chaney never set out to be a football coach.

Sure, he loved the game he played growing up in Holden, Mo. He missed it when he graduated from Central Missouri State in 1985 shortly after being named an all-conference nose guard his senior season.

Chaney moved west to California with his sights set on a master's degree in sports management at Cal State Fullerton.

One of his college coaches put him in touch with Gene Murphy, then the coach at Fullerton, about a job as a graduate assistant.

"I didn't go in with the purpose of ever thinking of being a college football coach," Chaney said. "I had no idea. I was going to use that to try to pay for a graduate degree and try to get into some professional team, be a general manager or something like that.

"Well, I was too damn dumb for that."

Or too darn good at coaching.

Chaney spent the next eight years in Fullerton, eventually becoming offensive coordinator. He could have stayed there longer had the school not decided to drop its football program after the 1992 season.

Suddenly out of a job, Chaney moved to Wyoming with the intention of becoming a graduate assistant on Joe Tiller's staff to help pay for law school.

Once again, though, a coaching career got in the way.

When a full-time position opened up on the coaching staff, it was an easy decision for Tiller to hire Chaney. And when Tiller left to take over at Purdue in 1997, it was an easy decision to take Chaney with him.

"I always wanted to surround myself with smart guys. Guys smarter than me, preferably," said Tiller, who retired after last season as the winningest football coach in Purdue history. "He's a smarter guy than I am."

Chaney, it turns out, was in for the long haul.

"You never realize when you get into something if you're going to be a lifer or not," he said. "I watched a lot of people come in for a few years or leave over the years. It's been a lot of fun. It's been good for me."

And pretty good for those who hired him, too.

'Smelling The Roses'

During his nine years at Purdue, Chaney helped Tiller restore the Boilermakers to prominence in the Big Ten.

Six times during that span, Purdue finished among the top 10 nationally in total offense. Alongside Olson, then Purdue's quarterbacks coach and now in his second season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chaney helped quarterback Drew Brees become a Heisman Trophy finalist. And in 2000, Purdue claimed its first Big Ten championship - and subsequent Rose Bowl berth - in 33 years.

But Pasadena isn't the only place Chaney likes to smell the roses.

"I love my family," he said. "I like the world we live in. I think there's a lot of complexities of life that I find amusing.

"I like things outside of just all football all the time. And I love football, don't misunderstand me. I think sometimes when coaches say those things you come off like, 'Oh God, he's not committed to the cause.' That's not the case, but I just like to think that there's other things that I have interest in also that are fun."

His passion is football, but Chaney likes to fish and golf. He maintains an interest in politics.

On the road recruiting, he's more apt to be listening to the Eagles or Carrie Underwood than he is sports talk radio.

And he's fascinated by those who excel in their chosen field.

"I just think the people that are at the top of their game no matter what they do are real special," he says. "Ultimately, I guess that's what excites me. Like a good trumpet player. Those are hard to find."

Finding a balance between football and fun is one of Chaney's strengths, said Tiller, who spent 13 total seasons with Chaney.

"He's a demanding guy on the field, and then off the field he's Happy Huey or whoever," Tiller said. "It's not that Jim doesn't (take football seriously), but it's just his personality that he's going to sniff the roses as he goes through life. He's not going to be Mr. Sourpuss. He's going to be an upbeat, positive guy."

For much of his career, that's been part of the job description.

In addition to being offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator (where he helped Purdue land top-10 classes each of the five years he held the title), he was Purdue's levity coach.

"Tiller gave him that," Olson said. "That was part of Jim's role, too, to keep the staff light. Make sure that if the players got too tight before a game that he'd do something to loosen them up. Certainly he fits the bill.

"You could talk to Drew Brees, who would just speak volumes about Jim. Most of the players there will. The first thing they'll say is that guy's hilarious."

And loyal.

Planting His Feet

Believe it or not, when Chaney arrived in Knoxville, it was only the fifth full-time stop in a 25-year career.

"I spent nine years in California," Chaney says. "Nine years at Purdue. I wouldn't have left Wyoming had Joe (Tiller) not left. It's something that I like to put my feet in the ground and get to know the community and live there, and that's what I enjoy doing."

His last move before UT came in 2006, when he left Purdue to join the staff in St. Louis, where Olson had just been named offensive coordinator.

"I told Greg if he ever became a (NFL) coordinator, I'd join him," Chaney said. "I said, 'You helped me when I was coordinator here at Purdue, so when you go I'll come with you.' "

Says Olson: "He was the first guy I thought of, to be honest, when I got the job. I still feel the same way about him."

Olson's tenure in St. Louis only lasted two years, but Chaney remained on staff for 2008 as tight ends coach. Olson, as it happened, landed in Tampa Bay.

And when UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin decided to leave the Buccaneers to join his son at Tennessee, Olson told him to give Chaney a call.

Chaney and new coach Lane Kiffin hit it off, and they spent plenty of time making sure they were on the same page offensively.

"Jim's been an integral part of putting in our offense at Tennessee," Lane Kiffin said. "He has a unique ability to coach all positions on offense and oversee our entire offense."

Despite running a one-back spread offense at Purdue - where Tiller joked the Boilermakers would "pass until we got hot and then when we'd get hot, we'd keep passing" - Chaney's three seasons in the NFL gave him a newfound appreciation for the running game and a foundation in the same pro-style offense that Lane Kiffin adopted during his time at Southern California.

"Right now, it's all Lane's stuff," said Chaney, who called plays at Purdue. "We're running with it. For the most part we're running the USC-style offense that Lane's been familiar with. I'm real familiar with it."

Keep It Rolling

When training camp rolls around this summer, the Rams will miss Chaney.

As an assistant offensive line coach and tight ends coach, sure, but especially when it's time for the annual rookie show.

In seven years with Chaney, Olson says there were too many times to count when Chaney helped cut the tension with a well-placed quip or kept players loose with a joke.

"He could bust the players up pretty good," Olson said.

The players could bust up Chaney, too.

In St. Louis, Olson and his fellow coaches loved watching first-year players perform skits lampooning teammates and coaches at the end of training camp.

"He's the first guy they'd go after, 'cause he's easy," Olson said. "Every time we had a rookie show, we couldn't wait to see who was going to do the Jim Chaney impression. They'd have the room on the floor laughing."

Chaney's new players at UT haven't gone that far yet, but they've seemingly taken to their new coordinator, especially the offensive linemen.

"He can get loud sometimes, but he can chew you out in such a calm way," guard Vladimir Richard said during spring practice, smiling. "When someone's loud and yelling at you, you're used to that. But when somebody can be so calm and talk to you in such a polite manner but really just chew you out, that's a scary sight."

That's Chaney, as intense and serious as the rest of UT's coaching staff on the field and smelling the roses off it. And that Midwestern country boy with the quick wit and football smarts knows how to keep it all balanced.

"When they put me down, say that I was a good father, a good husband, a good human being and a damn good coach," Chaney says. "That would be fine with me. In that order would be OK, too."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 76

teampenny#658108 writes:

LK will call i would bet. He is OC in name only. Go Vols

JohnsonCity_George writes:

I know it won't be Dave Clawson.

ThaiVolFan writes:

Great article, it is good to get a better for WHO the coach is and not just what we might see on t.v.. I feel like we can better understand the team chemistry after we find out about WHO each coach is. Looking forward to the next article up. Seems like we do have a real good one in Chaney, I just hope we can be a productive offense THIS year...we'll wait and see

old_number1 writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let me see- CK calls the plays. It will be easy. Running play, running play, running play, running play, ect.

OrangeCrush writes:

Great Bio and values, however, as a TN fan, we all heard a lot of this last year w/all the new coaches (Dave Clawson, Stan Draghton, etc.)

I for one want to see results.

FLAVOLS writes:

There is no doubt about it. Jim Chaney is a Hell of a Coach and we are damn lucky to have him. He is head coaching material down the road soon - just hope not too soon.

AppStVol writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

AppStVol writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Crompton is gonna play well this year. Why don't you so "called Vol fans" support our players. Crompton is going to play well with a normal OC. You haters need to hit another site, your not a true big orange fan if your not pulling for the kid.
Come on.

VOLFORLIFE writes:

Second in a series of nine. Keep spreadin' em out, KNS, and you can waltz us right into August when preseason practice starts. Maybe that will make the doldrum period seem shorter if we have something related to Big Orange football to read during the long, hot summer.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

carsontwin writes:

I think Crompton will be fine. I dont think he will put an all-star performance, but he will win games for us. I know its hard to beleive in Crompton after last years' disaster. This is an easier playbook and i think he will be fine. I have faith. GO VOLS!!!!

kennedymj1#206091 writes:

All the coaches sound great ,but as a Vol Fan, I want to see results. Just win baby.......

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to carsontwin:

I think Crompton will be fine. I dont think he will put an all-star performance, but he will win games for us. I know its hard to beleive in Crompton after last years' disaster. This is an easier playbook and i think he will be fine. I have faith. GO VOLS!!!!

is an easier playbook easier for defenses to defend. I believe so. We may execute better but the heat will be intense on our offense. Defense needs to carry us this year. If they break down the going will get rough. An newspapers and sports stations all realize we will be good copy. All publicity is not always good. Under the radar until you get the players in the past has always worked best. Remember all the teams that poked U Conn women? Go Vols

dvhill100 writes:

Good article KNS. I really appreciate the background/bios on the coaches. I am looking forward to the next one as well.

I agree with the other posters above: I think LK will call the plays initially, but somewhere down the road he'll turn it over to Chaney. LK is going to have a lot on his plate to deal with as the head coach, and delegation of work is a necessary attribute for a supervisor.

As far as the personal appearance shot by butch, I guess by his opinion on looks Einstein was an idiot because he had bad hair. Perhaps you would like to make a comment on Stephen Hawking, taking in account his appearance.

Couchdummy writes:

in response to ThaiVolFan:

Great article, it is good to get a better for WHO the coach is and not just what we might see on t.v.. I feel like we can better understand the team chemistry after we find out about WHO each coach is. Looking forward to the next article up. Seems like we do have a real good one in Chaney, I just hope we can be a productive offense THIS year...we'll wait and see

Well said! I think coach profiles are interesting features that the KNS should do in this off season. I also would like to see a periodic "Where are they now" article on past Vol players. We seldom know unless there is a special happening or a catastrophic event. Good job Drew!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Good read.

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

Well said! I think coach profiles are interesting features that the KNS should do in this off season. I also would like to see a periodic "Where are they now" article on past Vol players. We seldom know unless there is a special happening or a catastrophic event. Good job Drew!!

Good idea that would be interesting reading.

onevolfan99 writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

support ALL of the vols or find another team. personally I'm tired of the crompton bashing. The kid looked good when he started and played well enough to beat LSU as a freshman lets just hope that the coaching staff can bring that out of him. yes he had a bad year last year but lets wait until he plays a couple of games this season to evaluate him.

volhallathunder writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

https://secure.rivals.com/nssubscribe...

Free 7 day trial subscription to Volquest.

Vol43 writes:

Hey dc

Vol43 writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

is an easier playbook easier for defenses to defend. I believe so. We may execute better but the heat will be intense on our offense. Defense needs to carry us this year. If they break down the going will get rough. An newspapers and sports stations all realize we will be good copy. All publicity is not always good. Under the radar until you get the players in the past has always worked best. Remember all the teams that poked U Conn women? Go Vols

Sooooo, who 'poked' the Uconn women? ;)

tennesseebee writes:

in response to AppStVol:

Crompton is gonna play well this year. Why don't you so "called Vol fans" support our players. Crompton is going to play well with a normal OC. You haters need to hit another site, your not a true big orange fan if your not pulling for the kid.
Come on.

In keeping with the spirit of Sunday morning--Amen, Brother!

HtownVol writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you really think that any one on here other than you tea bag followers will want to see that game. Yes, the Florida are may watch it. But Vol fans dont worry about what other teams are doing. Unlike yourself, too bad you obviously can not say the same. Dont argue, you scared UF fans are on here every day hoping that we are not stealing more of your recruits and on our way back to the top. Go Vols!

HtownVol writes:

Every one the UF spring game " in on this morning" as says DC.... Yeah thats what I thought, WE DONT WORRY ABOUT UF!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Most of these Crompton bashers, like the guy calling him Crapton, are just high school punks anyway.

Everyone should now get behind the team and stop the bashing. What good is it gonna do?

Go Vols!!

TommyJack writes:

in response to grvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're half right. They (FHCPF) were crazy for staying with JC for so long.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

good call, re OC duties. Hope you're right about offense surprising. Got to have some decent production out of qb slot.....Seems problematic at best.

belayvol writes:

in response to Vol43:

Sooooo, who 'poked' the Uconn women? ;)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

wagee12 writes:

in response to OrangeCrush:

Great Bio and values, however, as a TN fan, we all heard a lot of this last year w/all the new coaches (Dave Clawson, Stan Draghton, etc.)

I for one want to see results.

OrangeCrush writes:
Great Bio and values, however, as a TN fan, we all heard a lot of this last year w/all the new coaches (Dave Clawson, Stan Draghton, etc.)

I for one want to see results

Ridiculous, asinine comparison. Drayton (not Draghton) was a young assistant, Clawson had never worked in D1 before.Neither one had coached in the NFL. Did you not read about his offenses and his recruiting at Purdue? Sorry you can't be enthusisatic and excited about what is going on in Knoxville. Enjoy being cynical for the rest of your life.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True. As the running game goes, so goes the offense (and the success of the qb).

tennezz writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Believe it or not, only you and a few other swamp rats care what is going on down in the azzhole of the united states called florida!

mjaichele writes:

in response to LawCoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Who keeps letting the Gimp out of his box?

littleorange writes:

A very good read.....this series of coaching articles is excellent. Sure beats John Adams tearing down of the program.

iowavol writes:

in response to AppStVol:

Crompton is gonna play well this year. Why don't you so "called Vol fans" support our players. Crompton is going to play well with a normal OC. You haters need to hit another site, your not a true big orange fan if your not pulling for the kid.
Come on.

AppStVol, you are killing me with your your's. Typically I'll leave it alone but you keep doing it over and over again. It makes reading your comments painful. Please, for the love of a good post, quite using "your" for "you're".

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to slovog:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Beware of her She bleeds orange and blue. Normally now days she will throw back the first husband. Maybe, move back to Gainesville. Tens are always more trouble! Go Vols

hotrodvol writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Naval, I'm with you on this one. Chaney will learn what CLK wants and all the asst. coaches will be on the same page as time goes by. Wilson is the coach I would like to hear about, I beleive he hasn't coached WRs before.

The only doubt I have is in Crompton, can he make the right throws under pressure, not fumble the ball under pressure, who knows? From what I've seen they will roll out the QBs and move the pocket, either way these coaches and players have my full support.

rockytopfrog writes:

Dude has serious manboobs. Yuck! You would think these guys could manage themselves a bit better.

Go Vols

kazoo writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Congrats: you win the pierce of the day award. You should be proud. I guess you haven't done much with your life...

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

and reading another of your stupid comments makes us believe you more of an idiot that we already knew

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

did your moma help you write that? How sweet

are you wearing Teblow panties?

we could give a hoot about your analagies

tennezz writes:

in response to gatorsownya:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Got your teeeebo panties in a wad, have you?

101st_AIRBORNE_VOL (Inactive) writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So I guess Ole Miss was Buster Douglas to Florida's Mike Tyson

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to iowavol:

AppStVol, you are killing me with your your's. Typically I'll leave it alone but you keep doing it over and over again. It makes reading your comments painful. Please, for the love of a good post, quite using "your" for "you're".

iowavol, please, for the love of a good post, quit using "quite" for "quit".

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

Ringleader writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I want someone to explain to me how she justifies attending Florida's spring game. There have been several post about her praise of Tebow, etc. and that she is a Certified Florida Gator.

SignalMtnVol writes:

Pretty good read. Maybe Chaney can help put some other guys on this list.

http://cfn.scout.com/2/861713.html

SignalMtnVol writes:

c) Urban Meyer doesn't lose games to coaches who act like punks.

So, would Urban whip Urban in a one on one? Cuz from what I've seen, Meyer is the biggest punk of all.

SignalMtnVol writes:

Keep saying no you can't, DC. It'll hurt all the much more when it happens. You don't ever count anyone out (Ole Miss), or it comes back to bite you in the arse. Just remember "Great pride cometh before a great fall", and it'll be a helluva fall with that smug attitude you have.

SignalMtnVol writes:

DC, I know quite a few Gator fans personally, hell I'm related to a ton of 'em since my family is from Florida (Newport Ritchie), and not a damn one of 'em are the smug bastards that you portray. Guess it's easy to talk that trash when your behind a keyboard. You can take out all the frustrations of your normal life that you never would in person. I think that's a damn shame. I've never tried to run anyone down, except in response to people like you. It's awful that a seemingly intelligent person could come on here and waste time with juvenile rants, instead of talking serious football, and bringing something to the table. It probably doesn't matter to you, but that's why you get nothing but insults hurled back at you. You act surprised that we Vol fans will not "bow down to the greatness of UF". Get a grip. The day I say I EXPECT someone to beat Tennessee will be the day I hang up my Big Orange hat.

SignalMtnVol writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

uh huh. They also have Houston Nutt, a coach that's never won an SEC title in front of Les Miles, who won an SEC AND national title in 2007.

SignalMtnVol writes:

Yeah, Nutt can coach, but what has he done to be ranked ahead of two NC winners (plus multiple SEC titles)? If you're going on a body of work to rank these guys, wouldn't you have titles at the top? Sure, Kiffin is an unproven commodity, I understand that, and have no problem with his low rank. He'll work his way up quickly, though. And to answer your question, yes, I follow football closely, more than just the Vols, and I can tell you, just because Nutt WHUPPED Urban's arse, he still doesn't merit a top 3 ranking as a coach. If that were the case, Lloyd Carr would still have a job after that beating he and Michigan put on the gators in '07.

senracjr writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man, you sure are stupid! Were you born that way or did it just creep up on you all the sudden?

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