Current position: Running backs coach, Georgia
Credentials: The Chattanooga native and UTC alumnus is in his third season at Georgia after eight years as the wide receivers coach at Virginia Tech. He coached the wideouts at UTC in 1990-91 before going to Holy Cross and Louisville.
Why him: Ball played for Joe Morrison at UTC from 1977 to ’80 and was inducted into the UTC Hall of Fame last year, and he was named to the school’s all-century team in 2003. One of the program’s most prominent alumni, Ball would be a very popular choice among a large section of the alums and boosters. For a program that is low on the local radar, hiring Ball could create a lot of buzz.
Current position: Head coach, North Alabama
Credentials: Hudspeth is in his seventh season at UNA, annually one of the top Division II teams in the country. The Lions have been ranked in the top six of the final D-II poll in four of the past five years, have won two Gulf South Conference titles and reached the semifinals of the playoffs twice during Hudspeth’s tenure.
Why him: After going 4-7 in 2002, his first season at UNA, Hudspeth led the Lions to a 13-1 record and a spot in the semifinals the following year, so he can engineer a turnaround. Hudspeth is also a spread-offense guy whose teams pile up yardage and points.
Current position: Linebackers coach, Appalachian State
Credentials: A former Bradley Central High School and Tennessee standout, Jones has been the linebackers coach since 2005 and was the defensive line/special teams coach at ASU from 1996 to 2004. He previously spent four years at Georgia Military College and also has served one-year stints at Tennessee and Florida.
Why him: Jones has both area ties and the credibility of not only being part of Appalachian State’s three straight national championships but also being a former All-SEC linebacker at Tennessee.
Current position: Defensive coordinator, Calgary Stampeders
Credentials: A Chattanooga native and UTC alum, Jones is in his first season with the Stampeders and sixth as a defensive coordinator in the CFL; he was the Montreal Alouettes’ defensive coordinator from 2003 to ’07. In Montreal, Jones’ defenses consistently were among the best in the league in most statistical categories. After spending a year as a graduate assistant at Alabama and as defensive line coach at UT-Martin, Jones was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennessee Tech from 1999 to 2001.
Why him: Like Ball, the local ties and the fact he played at UTC could certainly benefit the program, both in terms of area interest and financially. The Mocs have struggled defensively in recent years, and his many years as a coordinator could help turn that around.
Current position: Quarterbacks coach, Kentucky
Credentials: A native of Morristown, Sanders is well known in these parts after spending 22 seasons at Tennessee as a player and coach. His last seven in Knoxville were as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. His first game as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator was the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, when the Volunteers beat Florida State for the national championship.
Why him: Sanders is a household name to football fans in this part of the state, and he knows how to recruit and how to develop quarterbacks. He was hired at Kentucky in 2006 and helped turn Andre Woodson into an All-SEC quarterback in 2006 and 2007. Since joining the Southern Conference, UTC has never had an all-conference quarterback.
Current position: Co-offensive line coach, Georgia Tech
Credentials: Sewak was Paul Johnson’s offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern from 1997 to 2001 and took over as head coach in 2002. In his four seasons as head coach, the Eagles went 35-14, made three NCAA Division I-AA playoffs appearances and won two SoCon championships. He was named SoCon Coach of the Year in 2004.
Why him: Sewak knows the conference and knows how to run the triple-option offense, which served the Eagles well for so many years. The Mocs have lacked an offensive identity for quite some time, and there’s no reason to think the triple option wouldn’t work at UTC.
Current position: Head coach, UT-Martin
Credentials: After two seasons as UTC’s offensive coordinator, Simpson took over at UT-Martin and won the Ohio Valley Conference in his first season, going 6-1 in league play and 9-3 overall and being voted coach of the year. The Skyhawks struggled to a 4-7 record last season, 4-4 in the conference, but have bounced back in 2008. While at UTC, Simpson directed a passing offense that ranked 14th in the country in 2004.
Why him: UTC’s offense was productive when he was the coordinator, and he knows firsthand the challenges the program faces. He’s also familiar with what it takes to recruit at UTC and with what it takes to compete in the SoCon. His last year at UTC, in 2005, the Mocs went 6-5, the program’s only winning season since 1997.