UT Vols set to hire DeBord as offensive coordinator

UT Vols set to hire DeBord as offensive coordinator

February 6th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks about the 2015 recruitment class on National Signing Day on Feb. 4, 2015, in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.
KNOXVILLE -- Butch Jones is delving into his past for Tennessee's next offensive coordinator.

The Times Free Press confirmed multiple reports Thursday afternoon that Jones will hire Mike DeBord, his former boss at Central Michigan and a former offensive coordinator at Michigan, to fill the vacancy left by Mike Bajakian on the coaching staff for the Volunteers.

Tennessee made no official announcment regarding the hire, but one could come today.

MIKE DeBORD

Age: 58

Education: Master's degree from Ball State in 1981.

Playing experience: A four-year starter on the offensive line and an All-American at NAIA Manchester College in Indiana; inducted into the state's football hall of fame in 1995.

Current job: Olympic sport administrator at Michigan, assisting with football and overseeing the men's and women's cross country, track and field and tennis teams.

Coaching connections: With the Seahawks he worked under longtime Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren for one year and current UCLA coach Jim Mora for the other. Mike Martz, a longtime NFL offensive coordinator, ran the Bears during two of DeBord's three years on staff.

Coaching experience:

1982-83: Franklin College (Ind.), OL

1984-86: Fort Hays State, OL (1984), OC/QB/WR (1985-86)

1987-88: Eastern Illinois, OL

1988-89: Ball State, OL

1990-91: Colorado State, OL

1992: Northwestern, OL

1992-99: Michigan, OL (1992-96), OC (1997-99)

2000-03: Central Michigan, HC

2004-07: Michigan, ST (2004-05), OC/TE (2006-07)

2008-09: Seattle Seahawks, OL (2008), TE (2009)

2010-12: Chicago Bears, TE

During his signing day news conference Wednesday, Jones, who attended recruiting celebrations in Memphis and Nashville on Thursday, said he was "closing in" on hiring someone to replace Bajakian, who left the Vols to become the quarterbacks coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15 days ago.

"I would expect to have somebody in place hopefully by the end of the week," Jones said Wednesday.

In multiple radio interviews he's done since Bajakian left, Jones stressed the importance of fit, and continuity and stability have been key aspects of his tenure at Tennessee, which seemingly featured a revolving door of assistant coaches prior to his arrival after the 2012 season.

Though the 58-year-old DeBord has been out of football the past two years while serving in an administrative role at Michigan and hasn't been in the college game since 2007, he is a coach with whom Jones would be comfortable.

Between two stints with the Big Ten's Wolverines, DeBord was the head coach for four seasons at Central Michigan. Jones cut his coaching teeth as a running backs coach and offensive coordinator under DeBord.

After leaving the Wolverines when longtime coach Lloyd Carr was fired after a 9-4 season in 2007, DeBord spent five years in the NFL on the staffs of the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears.

"It's all about finding the right fit," Jones said during an appearance on the "Paul Finebaum Show" on the SEC Network last week. "The fans want you to hire a resume and all that, but I know what's best for Tennessee football. I know exactly what we need and what we need to take the next step.

"I'd like to know them," he said later in that interview. "I think trust is big in our football program, and chemistry of a staff is very, very important."

In addition to Jones, DeBord coached with Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek and secondary coach Willie Martinez for one season apiece while going 12-34 in four years at Central Michigan, and defensive line coach Steve Stripling was on the Michigan staff with DeBord for three seasons.

His lone tie to Tennessee's offensive staff is graduate assistant Nick Sheridan, who played quarterback at Michigan in 2006 and 2007 and helped Bajakian with Tennessee's quarterbacks last season after one season as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at South Florida.

During the five seasons DeBord spent as Michigan's offensive coordinator, the Wolverines were 52-11 and won a share of the 1997 national title. Tom Brady, the four-time Super Bowl winner for the New England Patriots, was Michigan's quarterback under DeBord's watch in 1998-99. He also coached Brian Griese, Chad Henne and Ryan Mallett.

In 2006 and 2007, Michigan averaged 29.2 and 27.2 points per game.

Though Michigan used more traditional pro-style offenses, DeBord will run the same up-tempo power-spread offense Jones has employed with Bajakian at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee the past eight seasons.

The Vols return 10 starters on offense, including quarterback Josh Dobbs, tailback Jalen Hurd and some talented receivers, and finished last season averaging more than 34 points in the six games with Dobbs.

"We're not looking for a major overhaul offensively," Jones told Football Scoop Radio nearly two weeks ago. "We're just looking to enhance our system. Going into year three and playing the inordinate amount of freshmen that we had to play last year, now they understand the system.

"The thing we can't do is go backwards and spend our time installing a new offensive system. We have to be able to enhance it, continue to grow and elevate it. That's where we can spend more time on the fundamentals and the fine details of what it takes to play winning football."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.


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