Former University of Tennessee track and field standout Aaron Ausmus is UT’s main target to become the next head football strength and conditioning coach, according to a source within UT’s athletic department.
Before Ausmus can be hired, the Vols have to resolve an ongoing stalemate with their current head strength and conditioning coach, Mark Smith.
Smith was still in his UT office Friday amidst mostly loaded packing boxes.
“I’m still here,” Smith said, then offered no further comment.
That won’t likely be the case much longer. Smith is under strict review by first-year UT coach Lane Kiffin.
The nature of Smith’s exit is still at question. If Smith resigns, he wouldn’t be owed anything financially by the university. If Smith is fired without cause, he would be due a buyout, which is thought to be the remainder of his one-year contract. Smith was hired by UT in December.
When Smith was hired, UT said he would earn $190,000.
Smith was one of Kiffin’s first hires in December. Now with a full complement of coaches, there are more opinions about UT’s strength and conditioning program to consider.
Ausmus was hired as head strength and conditioning coach by Ole Miss when Ed Orgeron was named coach in January 2005. Orgeron is UT's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
Ausmus served as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Southern California from February 2001 until 2004, then spent one season at Idaho as head strength and conditioning coach.
Considered one of the up-and-coming young strength coaches, Ausmus was instrumental in helping the national championship team at USC as the top assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2003 when Kiffin was an assistant coach. The Trojans also won the Pac-10 in 2002 and 2003.
Prior to going to USC, Ausmus served as a part-time assistant strength and conditioning coach at the Tennessee (2000-01) and was a strength and conditioning graduate assistant with the Vols from August 1998 to January 2000.
Ausmus was the 1997 NCAA indoor shot put champion and a two-time All-American, earning both indoor and outdoor honors. He served as a team captain in 1997, earned Academic All-SEC honor roll status in 1998, and was a 13-time SEC track and field point scorer.
Ausmus earned his Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Sport Management from UT in 1998 and then earned his Master of Science in Education degree, also in Sport Management, from UT in 1999.