KNOXVILLE -- Uncertainty is the only certainty at this point, but is seems more and more likely that the University of Tennessee won't have a defensive coordinator in place for Tuesday's national signing day.
Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said he wouldn't rush to fill his staff, and he took the job with little time to assemble his first signing class. Even college programs with full staffs scramble late in the recruiting cycle, and coaches become increasingly hesitant to part ways with assistants.
Dooley has contacted several candidates for the defensive coordinator position, most notably Clemson's Kevin Steele -- though Alabama's Kirby Smart may have been the top choice. Regardless, both turned down lucrative offers to stay with their current employers.
At least two more candidates, Joe Barry and Bob Sanders, have essentially been ruled out the past two days.
Barry left his position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to coach linebackers for former UT coach Lane Kiffin at Southern California, and Sanders was retained by Chan Gailey as the Buffalo Bills' defensive line coach.
Other names have surfaced in connection with the position. TCU's Dick Bumpas and North Carolina's Everett Withers have maintained happiness with their current jobs, but neither has specifically turned down the Vols. New Orleans Saints assistant Travis Jones has also been mentioned.
Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.