Butch Jones' staff taking shape; Tee Martin reportedly has offer

Reports: Thigpen added to staff, Martin has WR offer

Former Tennessee quarterback and current coach Tee Martin greets Tennessee defensive back Brent Brewer at the conclusion Tennessee's 24-14 win Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Photo by Michael Patrick

Former Tennessee quarterback and current coach Tee Martin greets Tennessee defensive back Brent Brewer at the conclusion Tennessee's 24-14 win Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Dave Hart answers questions about the coaching search and Butch Jones hire

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University of Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley, left, and strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery, right, point out highlights of the weight room during a tour of the new Brenda Lawson Athletic Center and Neyland-Thompson Sports Center on Friday, July 27, 2012. The 145,000-square-foot practice facility is slated for completion this fall.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS

University of Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley, left, and strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery, right, point out highlights of the weight room during a tour of the new Brenda Lawson Athletic Center and Neyland-Thompson Sports Center on Friday, July 27, 2012. The 145,000-square-foot practice facility is slated for completion this fall.

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Although there was no official word from new coach Butch Jones on Sunday, numerous reports hinted at what Tennessee's new football staff will look like.

It might include Tee Martin. It won't include strength coach Ron McKeefery. Tommy Thigpen, one of Gene Chizik's Auburn assistants, has reportedly been hired by Jones.

Martin, the fan-favorite quarterback of the 1998 national championship team, has an offer from Jones to coach receivers, several websites reported.

Martin just finished his first season coaching receivers at Southern Cal. He would be a popular addition to the staff with UT fans.

Jones, who was hired Friday from Cincinnati, said having a Tennessee influence was an important component of his staff. He has apparently secured one link by retaining running backs coach Jay Graham from Derek Dooley's staff.

Paul Harris, a UT receiver commitment, also used his Twitter account to say Martin had an offer, although Harris may have been merely repeating Internet chatter.

Thigpen, 41, was hired Sunday, according to al.com.

Thigpen is from Virginia and was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference linebacker at North Carolina. He has coached for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Ron Turner at Illinois and returned to his alma mater to coach linebackers from 2005-08 before Chizik hired him at Auburn.

Willie Martinez, another Chizik assistant, was reported Saturday to be in consideration for a position on Jones' defensive staff.

If Thigpen and Martinez are on board, the defensive staff would appear set if Jones brings John Jancek and Steve Stripling from Cincinnati.

Jancek was defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and his name has been removed from the program's website. Previously he was on Georgia coach Mark Richt's staff from 2005-09, but previously was at Central Michigan when Jones was offensive coordinator.

Stripling coached the defensive line at Cincinnati and Central Michigan.

The offensive staff would have two openings if Graham is retained and Jones brings Mike Bajakian and Don Mahoney from Cincinnati.

Bajakian was offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and also worked for Jones at Central Michigan, helping develop Dan LeFevour.

Mahoney coached the offensive line at both Cincinnati and Central Michigan. He would be UT's third O-line coach in as many years for a group that returns four starters.

One opening would be receiver, where Martin would appear to be the favorite. If not Martin, then T.J. Weist would be a logical addition from the Cincinnati staff.

The other opening is tight ends. Jones has two options from Cincinnati.

Dave Johnson, a former Georgia aide, coached tight ends last year. Mark Elder previously coached tight ends but switched to safeties last year. Elder also coordinated special teams.

McKeefery, meanwhile, wrote about being fired on his personal website Sunday.

"It is also important to understand that this business is tough and gets harder to stay in," wrote McKeefery, who was earning $240,000 this season. "I recently spoke at the CSCCA National Convention and asked a question to the round table discussion I was leading "How many of you can name 5 Strength Coaches that have retired being strength coaches?". Maybe 5-10 people out of 300+ could. At 36 years old I know I will rebound from this position, but what if I was 46 or 56? It is important that we think about our mortality in this business and how we can make it better or what are some alternative to it."

McKeefery's departure means Tennessee will hire its sixth strength and conditioning coordinator since 2008.

Dave Lawson was assistant AD/Sports Performance at Cincinnati and previously worked for Jones at Central Michigan.

Darin Hinshaw, Dooley's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2012, was linked Sunday by Internet reports to Kentucky, where new coach Mark Stoops is assembling a staff.

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Comments » 197

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Uhhh, if Graham is the only one he retained that's kind of obvious the SACC would get the boot.

TritanVol writes:

The more I learn about CBJ and his past coaching jobs it's hard to not be impressed. Just watched the video made upon his arrival and it's not very hard to get fired up. This guy is a winner.

nocleats writes:

Hate that the players have to start a new program, but it goes with the change I guess. Still feel there is alot of room for improvement in overall strength, especially on the Oline and Dline, and an obvious need for speed and explosion in the defensive secondary.
Hopefully Coach Jones fulfills his goal (Best Staff) and is given the money to get the best S&C coach in the country, that also is a great recruiter as well. Very important.

Snapshot writes:

Too bad, from all I have heard McKeefery has done a very good job. Some continuity at that position certainly would not have hurt anything.

PUL4VOLS writes:

I have no ill will toward Coach Dooley and supported him as long as it was possible but the need for change all over is obvious. Thankfully, we keep Jay Graham. That will pay off in many ways. It will be a long climb but we have to put some trust in Coach Jones. I for one will be glad to not hear anymore lawyerspeak and see a head coach who is truly fired up pretty much all the time. Now I hope we can become really excited to see some top notch recruits come to Rocky Top. But let us please be forewarned this year. It may take a year for his staff to heat up the recruiting trail. We can, however, hope for some good/great results this year. GO BIG ORANGE!

willaustin writes:

Offensive lines don't come very much stronger than what Bray threw behind last year.

orange_eVOLution writes:

I hope they hire Tee Martin.

utvolz#637682 writes:

Hire the best; we can afford it!

iowa_vol writes:

Cautiously optimitic at this point in time. He talks a good game, but seems a little implausible with some of his sentiments. Not sure it is a good thing to stand in front of a group of guys who beat you and talk about leaving a championship team. Also, if you weren't interested in leavng Cincinnati for any othr job except Tennessee, then why go interview?

Don't get me wrng. I like the hire and think that he should have been closer to the top than #3...or lower. Just mark your comments and be ready to deliver. You have entered into a whole new level of compeiton in the SEC and you aren't inheriting a great sitation.

VOLsince68 writes:

I really wish he would keep Pittman. Our O-Line was possibly the brightest spot on this team this year.

Also, I'm not convinced that we will have the best coaching staff if he brings that many from Cincy with him. Time will tell and I hope I'm wrong.

He really needs to add Tee Martin to this staff.

GBO VFL!!!

pingkr62 writes:

in response to TritanVol:

The more I learn about CBJ and his past coaching jobs it's hard to not be impressed. Just watched the video made upon his arrival and it's not very hard to get fired up. This guy is a winner.

I agree. I think CBJ is going to be an excellent coach. G.B.O.!!!

BSweet writes:

Who knew "the best staff in the country" was mostly tucked away at Cincinnati? Seriously, I hope CBJ comes in and does a bang up job. I'm ready to win again. But let's not overhype coaches before they prove something.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Tee Martin has been offered a position by CBJ..If he doesn't return to Knoxville it's not the fault of our new HC..GBO!

snuffysmiff writes:

Willie Martinez? Not sure this is a good hire.

Ironcity writes:

in response to snuffysmiff:

Willie Martinez? Not sure this is a good hire.

Great hire as long as he is not the DC

PHAT_VOL writes:

Yes he is an impressive talker. But can he walk the walk. I think all the salesmanship is a little much. The SEC is a totally different ball game. And as one poster stated your tell a team that drubed you about winning conference championships. The MAC and the Big East are just not the SEC.

NOW, first off lets see if he can recruit the hot beds like the state of Florida, Texas and California. I hope Butchy understands that because of the geographical boundary of the state of Tennessee you have to recruit nationaly.

GO VOLS!!

doctorvol#211700 writes:

in response to snuffysmiff:

Willie Martinez? Not sure this is a good hire.

As I stated several hours ago, he is a very good DB coach, just wasn't a good coordinator.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Great hire as long as he is not the DC

Great hire? Enlighten..

pcorange writes:

in response to VOLsince68:

I really wish he would keep Pittman. Our O-Line was possibly the brightest spot on this team this year.

Also, I'm not convinced that we will have the best coaching staff if he brings that many from Cincy with him. Time will tell and I hope I'm wrong.

He really needs to add Tee Martin to this staff.

GBO VFL!!!

Gotta agree with you here. I'm excited about CBJ and think he will be a very good coach, but I wonder if he shouldn't leave some of the Cincy coaches up there.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to snuffysmiff:

Willie Martinez? Not sure this is a good hire.

Why not? Got any specifics..

Retiredvol writes:

Is this the same Willie Martinez Georgia canned a few years ago? He was horrible!!! Please say it isn't so.

Vol-TIL-I-FaLL writes:

in response to willaustin:

Offensive lines don't come very much stronger than what Bray threw behind last year.

youre so right.. now how about running behind them..they only knew blocking schemes for passing,all that wasnt jus our backs but also blocking schemes, theyre old enough and big enough and been together long enough that the line coach, pittman shouldve had them road grinding at some time or another , but they never had a running scheme for the line, that says alot

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Retiredvol:

Is this the same Willie Martinez Georgia canned a few years ago? He was horrible!!! Please say it isn't so.

Yeah, that's the one..I'm almost certain he's not going to be the DC, probably LB's along with Tommy Thigpin DB's.

BMSvol writes:

anyone remember the before and after photos of aj johnson?

looked like ron was doing a good job to me.

abnermc writes:

in response to Retiredvol:

Is this the same Willie Martinez Georgia canned a few years ago? He was horrible!!! Please say it isn't so.

I had the same question. Ga. fans finally complained so much he was fired if i remember.

reidtownriverrat writes:

My first hire would be a speed coach!!!

pupvol writes:

Auburn was pretty bad on Defense this year!

Ironcity writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Great hire? Enlighten..

Was 2nd best recruiter at UGA and put a ton of guys in the NFL from the secondary. Move to DC when Van Gorder left and just appeared to be over his head (like Sunseri but not nearly as bad). UGA dumped him and I think he ended up at Oklahoma. Has great ties in the SE would be a coach who has been their and done it.

GreerVol22 writes:

On the surface these staff hires don't sound all that encouraging. Recycling some old Georgia and Auburn rejects. We'll see if Tee martin still has it in him.

frblalack writes:

I support Coach Jones 100%! Annd I am Big Orange for life. But isn't Coach Pittman one of the very best offensive line coaches in the country? And Martinez does not have a good rep from those in Georgia. Don't know much of Thigpen except I believe he was fired at Auburn. And it was fairly obvious to all Vol fans that Coach McKeefery was an excellent strength & conditioning coach. I understand bringing loyal team players, but the Tennessee offensive coach was pretty damn good!

Get ready Coach Jones; the SEC is BIG BOY football! We played no less than five (5) top ten teams this year...Al, Ga, Fl, Sc, and LSU!!! MS State and Vanderbilt were no pushovers!

I hope I'm just being cautious, but since we play at the highest level of competition in the entire country...we really need the BEST coaches & players! If you really want to bring in someone who bleeds Orange & exemplifies the spirit, then get Al Wilson! Hiring castoffs from other schools is IMHO NOT the answer.

Good luck Coach! I'll support you throughout!!!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - I BLEED Orange!!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Was 2nd best recruiter at UGA and put a ton of guys in the NFL from the secondary. Move to DC when Van Gorder left and just appeared to be over his head (like Sunseri but not nearly as bad). UGA dumped him and I think he ended up at Oklahoma. Has great ties in the SE would be a coach who has been their and done it.

Gotcha..

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Why not? Got any specifics..

Martinez was Richt's DC at UGA and was fired after the 2009 season. Rumor is, as DB coach, he was talked into leaving Oklahoma after the '11 season so Bob Stoops could retain the honor of never having fired an assistant coach. He was at Auburn this year. Some say he will be fine as long as he isn't a DC, in the manner Sal Sunseri might have been a good linebacker coach but not DC material.

Snapshot writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually ESPN reported that you are a dork, gater turd. But that is old news here.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to iowa_vol:

Cautiously optimitic at this point in time. He talks a good game, but seems a little implausible with some of his sentiments. Not sure it is a good thing to stand in front of a group of guys who beat you and talk about leaving a championship team. Also, if you weren't interested in leavng Cincinnati for any othr job except Tennessee, then why go interview?

Don't get me wrng. I like the hire and think that he should have been closer to the top than #3...or lower. Just mark your comments and be ready to deliver. You have entered into a whole new level of compeiton in the SEC and you aren't inheriting a great sitation.

I'd say you go interview for the same reason Hart ultimately called Gruden's agent -- because you just never know. Best to leave no stone unturned.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

On the surface these staff hires don't sound all that encouraging. Recycling some old Georgia and Auburn rejects. We'll see if Tee martin still has it in him.

Don't know about the UGA guys, but aren't the Auburn guys just out looking for jobs because Chizik got schit-canned?

apriliaracing writes:

in response to TritanVol:

The more I learn about CBJ and his past coaching jobs it's hard to not be impressed. Just watched the video made upon his arrival and it's not very hard to get fired up. This guy is a winner.

I agree.

larrycook99#274374 writes:

Surely no one will be surprised if Jones brings in all new coaches. And no one should be surprised if he brings some of them from Cincinnati. A new head coach almost always means a completely new staff as well. When you fire/hire a coach you are also firing/hiring the staff as well.

stormblast writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

http://coachingsearch.com/component/c...

The video at this link is well worth watching. The reaction of the players when he tells them what kind of offense he's going to run is hilarious.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to Snapshot:

Actually ESPN reported that you are a dork, gater turd. But that is old news here.

Just mention "Jawga" to the lad.

GBO

MarbleCitySon writes:

Dooley was reported to have been offered the receivers coach position at florida.

Mudcat58 writes:

in response to MarbleCitySon:

Dooley was reported to have been offered the receivers coach position at florida.

I thought he got a job with Ogle, Elrod & Baril ("We'll Turn Your Wreck Into A Check")

clvolfan writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Uhhh, if Graham is the only one he retained that's kind of obvious the SACC would get the boot.

These coaches who come in don't seem take into con-
sideration that we are in the south,I don't like the idea of an amost all yankee staff.He will find out about SEC football his 3rd game against"you know who".

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to VOLsince68:

I really wish he would keep Pittman. Our O-Line was possibly the brightest spot on this team this year.

Also, I'm not convinced that we will have the best coaching staff if he brings that many from Cincy with him. Time will tell and I hope I'm wrong.

He really needs to add Tee Martin to this staff.

GBO VFL!!!

It is a great O-line. Tennessee fans are grateful to Pittman for his efforts.

But if a new coach could improve our run-blocking...
---------
As for the Cincy staff, I wonder how our player personnel compares to theirs, size and talent wise? If the Cincy staff achieved as they did with lesser raw materials... maybe they are especially good coaches.

Maybe.

MarbleCitySon writes:

Dooley has accepted the job as receivers coach at florida!!

VolsUpsetYetAnother writes:

All past records and body of work aside. Auburn????? Why would we want anybody from Auburn??? And lastly - thank you for the article I haven't slept for two days wondering what was going to happen to our strength and conditioning coach! Thank goodness he is a blogger! Good night. And Go Vols!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to clvolfan:

These coaches who come in don't seem take into con-
sideration that we are in the south,I don't like the idea of an amost all yankee staff.He will find out about SEC football his 3rd game against"you know who".

Well, if Martinez and Thigpin are any pattern he's already hired 3 from the SEC counting Graham.

CasuallyAvid writes:

Smart move by CBJ...shows he knows what he is doing. The SACC spends more time with the players than anyone on staff including dead zones, etc. CBJ will want someone who is 110% aligned with his ideals and processes. Comes as no surprise that he wants his own coach there. No offense to McKeefery, he seemed to be doing a good job and I hope he lands on his feet elsewhere...it's just part of the carousel process.

fearthehound writes:

I was hoping he would move his Cincy DC to a position coach and get somebody with SEC experience for DC. Kevin Steele maybe (if he's available)?

MarbleCitySon writes:

Florida changed its mind and went with Dooley.

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