UT strength coach goes to Longhorns

KNOXVILLE -- An unsuccessful first raid of the University of Tennessee football coaching staff didn't work out for Texas.

But the Longhorns' persistence paid off Thursday.

Texas hired Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie to the same position a week after Volunteers defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox flirted with the Longhorns before remaining in Knoxville.

"It's an honor to be home," the 34-year-old Wylie said at his introductory news conference Thursday in Austin. "I'm from Mexia, Texas, which is just right down the road about two hours, so it's just an honor to be at this school that really represents my state.

"You don't really understand that completely until you coach in the SEC and you see what that means to a coach and work for your state. I'm just proud, and it's an honor to be here."

Wylie spent seven seasons at Texas Tech before Vols coach Derek Dooley hired him last year. He played and began his coaching career at Sam Houston State, and his job in Knoxville was his first outside of Texas in his career. His wife Jennifer is a native of Plano, Texas.

Wylie coached with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys (1999-2002) and the arena league's Dallas Desperados (2000-02) before going to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were 46-18 while he was there.

"I was contacted about three or four days ago through a third party," Wylie said. "Everything matched up right with our personalities, with our same coaching philosophies -- that we really want to discipline our kids, but we also want to train our kids hard and also want to do the right thing for our team here."

Many of the Vols raved during preseason practice and throughout the season about Wylie's methods and their results. Wylie also participated with the team during its offseason workouts and conditioning and wore heavy sweatshirts and sweatpants during practice, even in the blazing August heat.

The strength coach position has been even more of a revolving door than head coach recently for the Vols. They have gone through Johnny Long, Mark Smith, Aaron Ausmus and Wylie since the start of the 2008 season.

"I'm never going to beg people to stay at Tennessee," Dooley said after practice Dec. 20, then addressing rumors of Wilcox's departure, "because this is a great job and there are thousands of coaches that would kill to be here.

"We're never going to have one coach that's going to be bigger than the program, so I think we should expect this every year. So get used to it, because it's a good thing. When programs want your coaches, it means your coaches are doing a good job."

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