Source: Graham was offered $40,000 raise to $300,000

Source: UT makes offer of $300,000

Running backs coach Jay Graham during spring practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, March 29, 2012. 
 (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2012

Running backs coach Jay Graham during spring practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, March 29, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Jay Graham, a record-setting Tennessee running back who developed a reputation as an ace recruiter and an impressive coach, is leaving his alma mater for Florida State.

Jones confirmed the news on his Twitter account Monday morning. As of Monday night, Florida State had yet to officially announce Graham’s hiring.

“The process of adding a new coach to our staff is under way, and we will hire the best person possible as we continue to build our program,” Jones wrote.

Attempts to reach Graham Monday were unsuccessful. His university-issued cellphone went straight to voice mail.

Graham, 37, was slated to make $260,000 in 2013, a $35,000 raise from what he would have made on former coach Derek Dooley’s staff, but still the second-lowest salary on Jones’ nine-man coaching staff. A source in the athletic department familiar with the negotiations said Tennessee had offered Graham another raise to $300,000.

Graham’s salary or title on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State has not yet been announced.

He came to Tennessee from South Carolina after the 2011 season and spent one year under Dooley. He was credited with helping develop Tennessee running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane as part of a renewed rushing attack.

Graham was the only coach from Dooley’s staff retained by Jones, who credited him with helping build the 2013 signing class. Graham was the primary recruiter for highly touted receiver MarQuez North.

Graham, a North Carolina native, played for the Vols from 1993-96, rushing for 2,609 yards before embarking on a five-year NFL career.

Last month, FSU hired running backs coach Randy Sanders, who spent 22 seasons as a player and assistant coach at UT before joining the staff at Kentucky from 2006-12. Sanders was Graham’s position coach during his playing career at UT.

Graham will also be reunited with defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, who was UT’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and was hired by Fisher in December.

Graham was a popular figure with Vols’ fans, receiving three standing ovations during a post-National Signing Day tour of the state earlier this month.

Jones told fans that Graham was “rehired” not “retained” for his new staff, and that Graham had helped him get the lay of the land during his first few weeks on the job.

Jones did not make an appearance on UT’s weekly, statewide coaches call-in radio show Vols Calls on Monday night.

For his part, Graham said he felt welcome on a staff in which he was one of only two coaches who had not worked with Jones previously.

“This is a great group of guys,” Graham said in December. “I’ve enjoyed being around them and I’ve enjoyed being around Coach Jones. There are no egos; they just work hard. They’re blue-collar coaches that understand recruiting and watching tape and understand what they’re looking for.”

Graham’s departure leaves Tennessee with only one black coach in an on-field coaching role — linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. Every other SEC team has at least three black assistant coaches in on-field roles. Eight of the 14 SEC teams have at least four black assistant coaches.

If Jones turns to someone he has worked with before, Roy Manning could be his first option. Manning coached running backs for Cincinnati last year but was not offered an on-field coaching job at UT. Manning, who is black, is now at Northern Illinois.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 79

troken writes:

Don't let the door hit you!

NYvolFan writes:

What a joke....clearly he didn't feel Welcome after all he did. How many people turn down a $40K raise. It's all a joke. these people are paid WAY too much. But, I'd like to be closer to the beach, not that African-Americans think that way. Traitor! No VFL!

HooRay_Vol writes:

Now the vols administration will overpay someone to fill the position (to cover their EFFiNG mistake) and will end up costing more than what Graham was to make.

florida-volfan writes:

And he turns that down.....after the players that came here because of him. Butch Jones goes out of his way to keep him since he was UT family and well liked, then he bolts to FSU to join up with that moron Sunseri. GTFOH!!!

NYvolFan writes:

While we pay Dooley for 5 years. Shocking how inept this Tennessee Administration is! We're still paying Mike Hamilton...correct?

Orangeblood64 writes:

With the losers that Florida state has hired I think jay screwed up. just like T out at USC. jumped on a sinking ship. just hope they don't crawl back to knoxville.well at least we didn't have to buy out his contract.

volthrunthru#658770 writes:

The real problem is not what it appears to be, in this continuing saga of incompetence personified.

Jones stinks. So do his staffmembers.

Graham said it best---blue-collar coaches.

No heavy hitters; no top drawer types. Just lunch bucket level coaches.

Another group of losers in orange. Just that simple.

president downward need to go...

GloryDays writes:

I don't think we know the whole story. It is very disappointing. I thought coach Jones was trying connect with the past and now the homegrown coach and ace recruiter leaves. Please don't hire another northern yankee RB coach. Coach Jones this is the SEC not the Big East. Winning will solve a lot of problems but this is a big loss! If nothing else this is a bad PR move for coach Jones. It make him look really bad. A real disconnect for the fans!

FWBVol writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

The real problem is not what it appears to be, in this continuing saga of incompetence personified.

Jones stinks. So do his staffmembers.

Graham said it best---blue-collar coaches.

No heavy hitters; no top drawer types. Just lunch bucket level coaches.

Another group of losers in orange. Just that simple.

president downward need to go...

Nobody can honestly know how Jones and this staff will do in the SEC until the Vols line up against Florida, Alabama, Georgia....this fall.

As for the blue collar stuff, this nation was built by blue collar workers. The men in the steel mills were blue collar, the guys that built, and continue to build, the great buildings and highways in this country are blue collar.

Blue collar guys know what it means to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

olecountryboy writes:

This is as BAD as I have ever seen UT. Its like we are sailing a BURNING ship. If Butch and CO. cant turn this around SOON, we wont be relevant for another 5-10 years.

We have a HUGE stadium, that fans dont PACK out anymore, with outstanding Facilities, and still, we change HC's every 2 or 3 years, Assistant Coaches change almost every year that make lateral moves in the coaching ranks. I would like to see how many coaches that we have gone through since Fulmer was let go, compared to other schools in the SEC. I would almost bet that we have made more changes than all other SEC schools COMBINED.

Just dont understand why with all the things that we can offer, that we are still loosing coaches, and suffering humiliating losses (VANDY),(Kentucky). Then we get made a fool of when we do go looking for new coaches. We get turned down, over and over. Then you hear stories of kids that can get into your Georgia, bama, Auburn, Lsu, that cant get into TN. So in return, we have to settle for kids that have lesser talent, and I know it should be about education first, but in this day and age its about Players, Championships, and MONEY. Which is one thing that we have lost ALOT of lately.

Just seems like a BAD DREAM, almost everyday.

8inarow writes:

If they really offered a 40K raise, and he still left, what does that tell you about the program?

chipmurphy461 writes:

Butch Jones and his coaching staff are proven winners, unlike several previous hires. Jones and staff will bring UT back, but like all good things...it will take time. Jay Graham and Tee Martin the UT football players I like. Jay Graham and Tee Martin the football coaches are idiots. How can you not stay at a University that idolizes you? How could you choose to not live and work in a community that would embrace you and your family? How could you choose to go to 2 football programs that are on the brink of firing the entire staff next season? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever! If the salary difference elsewhere was in the millions, then sure why not. I am a bigger fan of UT football than I am of Jay Graham the coach or Tee Martin the coach so don't come back to Knoxville unless we're celebrating your UT football accomplishments!

Snapshot writes:

in response to 8inarow:

If they really offered a 40K raise, and he still left, what does that tell you about the program?

It tells us you are a moron!

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to olecountryboy:

This is as BAD as I have ever seen UT. Its like we are sailing a BURNING ship. If Butch and CO. cant turn this around SOON, we wont be relevant for another 5-10 years.

We have a HUGE stadium, that fans dont PACK out anymore, with outstanding Facilities, and still, we change HC's every 2 or 3 years, Assistant Coaches change almost every year that make lateral moves in the coaching ranks. I would like to see how many coaches that we have gone through since Fulmer was let go, compared to other schools in the SEC. I would almost bet that we have made more changes than all other SEC schools COMBINED.

Just dont understand why with all the things that we can offer, that we are still loosing coaches, and suffering humiliating losses (VANDY),(Kentucky). Then we get made a fool of when we do go looking for new coaches. We get turned down, over and over. Then you hear stories of kids that can get into your Georgia, bama, Auburn, Lsu, that cant get into TN. So in return, we have to settle for kids that have lesser talent, and I know it should be about education first, but in this day and age its about Players, Championships, and MONEY. Which is one thing that we have lost ALOT of lately.

Just seems like a BAD DREAM, almost everyday.

We have an administration that is hostile to what it takes to be successful at the top levels of football. We have people in charge that are so terrified of the NCAA that they are constantly breathing down the necks of whatever coaching staff is occupying the front office. We have made a series of really, really bad hiring decisions (extending Fulmer's contract, Derek Dooley, Sal Sunseri, and now this Big East experiment). We aren't willing to pay top dollar because the past administration thought investing in luxury boxes was more important than improving the quality of the product on the field. And UT demonstrated with Bruce Pearl that it's more than happy to throw a successful and loved coach under the bus to save itself.

Finally, recruiting at UT is like storming the beach at Normandy equipped with nothing but a bow and a quiver of arrows. You have to go toe to toe against Saban, Muschamp, Richt, and now Franklin. Sure we have great facilities and early playing time, but that is NOT what the best high school players want. The best high school players see a college program as prep for the NFL. Right now, UT utterly sucks in that department (and if you think that Hunter and Patterson will change this perception...you are wrong).

In short, UT hasn't made the huge commitment it needs to attract the best coaches. We hired an incompetent in Hart and Jimmy Cheek appears committed to the destruction of UT athletics. We embarrassed a hall of fame coach with the way he was dismissed and then left a popular coach to be devoured by the NCAA when he needed our help. If I was a coach, I wouldn't see UT as an attractive employment opportunity either. I would see them as a lucrative employment contract and potentially a huge buyout.

That is why we are still losing coaches.

VolzsFan writes:

This came down to a couple of things.

1. Zach Azzanni disrespected Jay and he left. Fact.

2. Jay was under paid. Fact.

3. Jay does not think this staff can get it done. Fact.

4. Jones did not let them do what they needed to do to get that kid that went to Ohio State. He will figure out how the SEC game is played and he will regret not paying up. Jay knew his hands where tied. Fact.

As I have said, it will be decades before they can hope to win. It will never be to the Hall of Fame level we fired.

JimmyJoe writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

This came down to a couple of things.

1. Zach Azzanni disrespected Jay and he left. Fact.

2. Jay was under paid. Fact.

3. Jay does not think this staff can get it done. Fact.

4. Jones did not let them do what they needed to do to get that kid that went to Ohio State. He will figure out how the SEC game is played and he will regret not paying up. Jay knew his hands where tied. Fact.

As I have said, it will be decades before they can hope to win. It will never be to the Hall of Fame level we fired.

What did jones keep jay from doing to get Vonn Bell? Just out of curiosity?

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Et tu Brutus?

He'll never be invited back, even for his class day after leaving us like that. What a BUTT to leave over money and working with Randy Sanders.. Jeezes man, why not go work with Lane Kiffin later on too?

nocleats writes:

This has as much to do with Jimmy Cheeks refusal to allow Tennessee Coaches to recruit the same players as the rest of the SEC and NCAA because of his stupid admission policies. It is something he, AD D Hart, Coaches and former coaches have been "looking at" and "addressing" for a few years now with Cheek only allowing a few "academic exceptions" per class. HOW CAN THEY BE ACADEMIC EXCEPTIONS IF THEY MEET SEC AND NCAA REQUIREMNTS?> Cheek needs to be removed.

CarlChilders writes:

"Ace recruiter" came up empty in 2013.

bigdisbig writes:

No one really knows why Jay decided to leave. Maybe it was a career move or maybe he wasn't happy. Maybe he heard Sasquatch was spotted in Florida? WHO KNOWS???
Why all the negativity against Jones and Jay already?
I think everyone should give Jones a chance and see how they do this year. There will be plenty of time for negativity after the first few games. I for one wish Jay the best of luck in his future. I've been accused of being negative myself so this is my attempt at being positive today! Go Vols!

usafvol writes:

in response to bigdisbig:

No one really knows why Jay decided to leave. Maybe it was a career move or maybe he wasn't happy. Maybe he heard Sasquatch was spotted in Florida? WHO KNOWS???
Why all the negativity against Jones and Jay already?
I think everyone should give Jones a chance and see how they do this year. There will be plenty of time for negativity after the first few games. I for one wish Jay the best of luck in his future. I've been accused of being negative myself so this is my attempt at being positive today! Go Vols!

Good post!

VolsFanInNC writes:

Hate to see him go, but did we really need the diversity lesson? Is the fact that Jay Graham is black have anything to do with him leaving?

usafvol writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Awesome! lol

westknoxrepub writes:

Ainge is saying he wanted the title of recruiting coordinator and that's why he left. . .it fits.

StoneJackBaller writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

The real problem is not what it appears to be, in this continuing saga of incompetence personified.

Jones stinks. So do his staffmembers.

Graham said it best---blue-collar coaches.

No heavy hitters; no top drawer types. Just lunch bucket level coaches.

Another group of losers in orange. Just that simple.

president downward need to go...

So, genius. Who is the "big name" heavy hitter coach we should've hired? Huh?

richvol writes:

If UT offered to match the 40k that Fla St offered then it's not about money. All of it will be eaten up in new taxes Fla.

titansfan1085 writes:

I am still trying to figure out what his race has to do with anything? I want the best coaches on the VOLS staff. They can be pink and green for all I care!!!!

Dickattrade writes:

in response to NEVERBECONSERVATIVEWITHKNS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seems as if you have a difficult time knowing fact from fiction.

BigBadVol writes:

If he left because he didn't get the job of recruiting coordinator then see ya later you little baby. He knew the backlash that would follow and he didn't care. No longer a Vol in my book. I couldn't care less what he has done in the past. He knew UT needed him and he bolted. Officially on my shiit list.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to richvol:

If UT offered to match the 40k that Fla St offered then it's not about money. All of it will be eaten up in new taxes Fla.

LOL! I didn't think of that. You are correct!

BrassMonkey writes:

The VFL garbage is overrated. I hope it is the next thing that Butch Jones does away with. So called "VFL's" have taken this program to new lows and I am ok with outside resources being brought in preparing a scorched earth to resurrect this once proud football program. Bottom line, our running backs were sub par and our recruitment of fresh talent stinks.

Hound_Dog69 writes:

in response to richvol:

If UT offered to match the 40k that Fla St offered then it's not about money. All of it will be eaten up in new taxes Fla.

Actually when it comes to taxes he's better off in Florida! We have no state income tax and food is not subject to sales tax like it is in Tennessee!

whatmeworry writes:

Jay's on his fifth job in five years.We offer him 300k and he still bolts.Now we find out he wanted to be recruiting coordinator.So he leaves his alma mater to go coach for Dumbo Fisher with Sad Sal and Sanders.If he had stayed and proved to be the ace recruiter then he might have been rewarded with that position sooner rather than later.If he left just because he didn't get exactly what he wanted then we are probably better off without the drama.

Rookie2 writes:

I know Jay and I doubt money was the key factor. There are likely several things at play. Jay is a guy that has ambition and his aspiration isn't to be a running backs coach and "good recruiter" the rest of his career. I'm sure the new position is a move upward and I suspect he felt pigeon holed behind all of Jones staff, and was pretty much starting back at the bottom of the totem pole. The opportunity came and he took it. BTW, the loyalty thing swings both ways. I think his loyalty was being taken a bit for granted. How would you feel if they were all stumbling over themselves to get a guy like Tee Martin, offering him close to $400K while they were only paying Jay $225K, after taking as big a risk as he did to come here?

volt11 writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

The real problem is not what it appears to be, in this continuing saga of incompetence personified.

Jones stinks. So do his staffmembers.

Graham said it best---blue-collar coaches.

No heavy hitters; no top drawer types. Just lunch bucket level coaches.

Another group of losers in orange. Just that simple.

president downward need to go...

exactly right

Ayres_Hall writes:

The complainers need to go to Bama where the grass is always greener. Please go.

Jay Graham's resume is short. He was the second lowest paid assistant. And he leaves to work with Randy Sanders.

What more do you need to know?

volfan2002 writes:

I think this came down to being comfortable in a job. A long time relationship with Randy Sanders certainly sealed the deal. This seems to be the reason he is leaving far more than the money issue.

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

There are no bama alums on their staff. How's that working out for them?

StoneJackBaller writes:

in response to volt11:

exactly right

All you guys who want to criticize Jones and his staff before they've even played the first scrimmage need a reality check.

Since you're the experts, tell me, who should we have hired?? I just want someone to tell me.

I'm not saying Jones is the answer, only time will tell. I just want to know who these "experts" on here think we should've hired that we didn't try to.

TheEffect writes:

"Manning coached running backs for Cincinnati last year but was not offered an on-field coaching job at UT. Manning, who is black, is now at Northern Illinois."

Just wondering if Manning were white, would they have mentioned this in the article?

whatmeworry writes:

I'm not sure why anyone wants to make this a race issue.If that was the case Jones didn't have to keep Graham in the first place.He left because he wasn't selected as R.C.Simple as that.He obviously doesn't stay anywhere long enough to create trust and entrench himself in a position.As I posted earlier,five jobs in five years doesn't resemble someone you want to put in charge of too many responsibilities.Not to mention someone who has no loyalty to his own school.

Southland writes:

Jay Graham is obviously looking to enhance his climb up the coaching ladder. FSU is primed to be a top five team. He gets more responsibility there and most likely has far better running backs to work with. Jones didnt mess up except he probaly should have addressed the pay scale a lot earlier but doubt he feels he has much wiggle room to be spending more money since UT owes everyone in coaching severance pay

tennrich1 writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Question: Why would you respond to an obvious set-up? Just curious....

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Rookie2:

I know Jay and I doubt money was the key factor. There are likely several things at play. Jay is a guy that has ambition and his aspiration isn't to be a running backs coach and "good recruiter" the rest of his career. I'm sure the new position is a move upward and I suspect he felt pigeon holed behind all of Jones staff, and was pretty much starting back at the bottom of the totem pole. The opportunity came and he took it. BTW, the loyalty thing swings both ways. I think his loyalty was being taken a bit for granted. How would you feel if they were all stumbling over themselves to get a guy like Tee Martin, offering him close to $400K while they were only paying Jay $225K, after taking as big a risk as he did to come here?

Actually the main recruit that I know of that Jay has landed was the running back at SC...other than that...this year we needed badly needed a big time back and quite frankly Jay struck out...If he had wanted to stay thats fine...he's the one that said there were no ego's here...well based on your comments apparently there was...BUT the truth is you dont know, I dont know and no one other than Jay knows why he left...so let him go for goodness sake and lets move on....

CarlChilders writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You usually can't expect orange blood to be there if it wasn't infused at an early age. Merely playing football at UT won't produce it for you. Jay Graham (NC), Tee Martin (AL), and countless others have chosen UT because they saw it as the best fit to further their skills at playing at the next level. There are exceptions of course, i.e. Peyton Manning.

Rocky_Fathead_Dennis writes:

Maybe Graham was used to Dooley's lazy staff that clearly lacked in recruiting effort and now Butch and his staff demand much more work that he does not want to do and he did not realize this until after he agreed to stay.

HooRay_Vol writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Actually the main recruit that I know of that Jay has landed was the running back at SC...other than that...this year we needed badly needed a big time back and quite frankly Jay struck out...If he had wanted to stay thats fine...he's the one that said there were no ego's here...well based on your comments apparently there was...BUT the truth is you dont know, I dont know and no one other than Jay knows why he left...so let him go for goodness sake and lets move on....

We struck out on a lot of recruits at EVERY position. We will really know the true cost of losing Jay Graham after this NEXT class....AKA will we land Jalen Hurd? If we lose out again on a big time RB, we only continue to pay for Grahams loss.....

DonK37920 writes:

I'm sure these decisions don't come easy. Everyone calling him a traitor etc.. has no idea what lead him to make this decision. Take the Tennessee part out of it. Jay left a very stable program to join the most unstable program in the country. His new program was on their 3rd coach in 5 years and now are on their 4th coach in 6 years. Shut up about he should have done this or is a traitor or whatever. He made the decision that he thought was best for his family and good for him. We live in a free country where this is possible. I'm sure he is comfortable with his raise and new title. Hopefully he makes us proud and continues to climb the coaching ladder. If we wanted to keep him we should have paid him a lot more and given him the recruiting coordinator title.

SummerfieldVol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

This came down to a couple of things.

1. Zach Azzanni disrespected Jay and he left. Fact.

2. Jay was under paid. Fact.

3. Jay does not think this staff can get it done. Fact.

4. Jones did not let them do what they needed to do to get that kid that went to Ohio State. He will figure out how the SEC game is played and he will regret not paying up. Jay knew his hands where tied. Fact.

As I have said, it will be decades before they can hope to win. It will never be to the Hall of Fame level we fired.

The only person who knows all the facts is Jay Graham himself, so if you are not Jay then it is all here say. I have seen a lot of people blog on here with the facts that later prove they did not what they were talking about. I think you fit into that group.

volthrunthru#658770 writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

So, genius. Who is the "big name" heavy hitter coach we should've hired? Huh?

You are all attitude and ignorance. Why would anyone want to exchange information with you?

You do not know anything or anyone in theknow, just that simple. So you walk around like some bantam capon.

Here's the answer to your question: I refuse to tell youspecifics, except to mention one about which you will argue.

And there were three respected, non-tainted ones that wanted to the job---and several who were so sleazy that even Hart would not have them---but the top three all refused to work for Hart---including Gruden.

Hart is a nasty litte man who gets agreement on one point and then suddenly asks for more---so that top people will not work for him.

Only creeps and cretins will take his abuse---or people who are so vested in the Tennessee retirement system that they cannot afford to eave.

Just that simple.

Hart has been trying to stop a couple of folks from sharing information, but thus far has been unsuccessful.

Why don't you stop being an internet cowboy...and make some friends in the right places.

Or is it that they do not want to deal with your kind?

Just asking...

By the way...is that you, Hart?

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