FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will bring his high-flying aerial attack to Arkansas.
Chaney was hired to the same position by new Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema on Wednesday night, becoming Bielema's second assistant this week. Chris Ash was hired away from Wisconsin on Tuesday as Arkansas' defensive coordinator.
The former St. Louis Rams assistant spent the last four seasons with the Volunteers and was the team's interim head coach for their season finale this season following the firing of former coach Derek Dooley.
Tennessee was second in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense this season under Chaney, averaging 315.6 yards per game through the air. The Volunteers were second overall with an average of 475.9 yards of total offense per game.
"He knows the SEC, having coached at Tennessee, and is familiar with what it takes to be successful in this conference," Bielema said in a statement. "He is an upbeat and positive person who has proven at every stop he is an elite coach in our profession."
Chaney's reputation as a developer of the passing game will be a welcomed addition to an Arkansas fan base which had grown accustomed to being among the SEC's top passing teams under former coach Bobby Petrino. The Razorbacks led the conference in passing offense and points scored last season, but they fell to 12th in the league in points scored (23.5) this season following Petrino's firing in April.
His hiring also shows Bielema, who was known for a power running attack while guiding Wisconsin the last seven seasons, is serious about being committed to a balanced offensive attack.
"Jim Chaney's approach will blend well with my ideas as we work to put together a plan for the team we have and over time develop our specific philosophy," Bielema said.
The 50-year-old Chaney spent the most time in his career as the offensive coordinator at Purdue, where he guided New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in college.
The Missouri native left the Boilermakers to join the Rams in 2006. He spent three seasons in St. Louis, during which running back Steven Jackson rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each.
While at Tennessee, Chaney helped develop quarterback Tyler Bray into one of the nation's best. Bray passed for 3,619 yards and 34 touchdowns this season, also setting a school single-game record with 530 yards passing.