Tennessee tried dipping into its past for a defensive coordinator.
The Vols will apparently have to look elsewhere.
Multiple reports Tuesday afternoon indicated Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele had accepted the same position with the Vols and new coach Derek Dooley. But by the end of the day media outlets in South Carolina reported that Steele had changed his mind and would remain with the Tigers after meeting with his players.
No deal between Steele and UT was ever confirmed by the News Sentinel, and the school did not release any information about filling the position.
“There is no news to report,” the 51-year-old Steele told The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Steele signed a three-year deal worth $375,000 per season last year. The State newspaper reported that Steele would get a significant raise to remain at Clemson after “mulling a lucrative offer from Tennessee.”
The UT graduate spent two seasons with Alabama before working with the Tigers in 2009, and he worked two separate stints with UT in the past as well.
Steele started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Johnny Majors in 1981 before earning a promotion to coach outside linebackers for a season. He returned to the program in 1987 for two years working with the defensive backs, and at least considered a third tour of duty.
With Steele electing to stay, Dooley will continue his search for a defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Lance Thompson and defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza appear likely to be retained, which would also leave a vacancy on the defensive line.
On the other side of the ball, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will return for a second season with the Vols. He’ll be joined by new hires Charlie Baggett, Terry Joseph and Eric Russell.