Derek Dooley will have to keep looking for his first defensive coordinator at Tennessee.
Dabo Swinney is holding on to his.
The Clemson coach confirmed through a school spokesperson on Wednesday afternoon that UT alum and former assistant Kevin Steele would return to the Tigers for another season despite reports he could double his salary with the Vols. It was widely reported Steele had accepted a position on Dooley's staff Tuesday, but multiple outlets in South Carolina indicated he changed his mind after meeting with his players.
The News Sentinel was never able to confirm any deal between the coordinator and the Vols, and now it doesn't appear there will be one at all.
"Our head coach (Swinney) told me he was staying," Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret said.
Steele looked like a great fit for the Vols given his ties to the program and to Alabama coach Nick Saban, the longtime boss and mentor for Dooley. But with Steele apparently out of the picture, the search will head elsewhere.
UT has been tight-lipped about potential targets and is also still trying to fill two other positions. Linebackers coach Lance Thompson and defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza appear likely to be retained, which would 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.
Roles for all the members of the new staff have yet to be determined.