Vols lose Wilson to LSU

Vols lose Wilson to LSU

December 6th, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- Compiling college football's most expensive, and one of its most impressive, coaching staffs wasn't an impossible task for Tennessee's Lane Kiffin.

Keeping it together was a tougher and ultimately unsuccessful task.

UT wide receivers coach Frank Wilson flew to Louisiana on Saturday morning after accepting a similar position with LSU -- but including the "recruiting coordinator" title -- and Volunteers running backs coach Eddie Gran is entertaining an offer from Florida State.

Gran also oversees UT's special teams and is widely considered one of the nation's best recruiters in talent-heavy South Florida.

"Eddie is still going over both options," Kiffin said. "Obviously, (FSU) is a really good place. It's a tough decision for him. He has recruited Florida for years and years. It's a powerful school down there.

"He is going back and forth on some things, but I think he will have a decision pretty soon."

Wilson's decision came Saturday, after the Louisiana native turned down UT's counter offer.

"We are glad for Frank from the standpoint that he gets to go home," Kiffin said. "That's something that is a big deal to him. He and his wife have so many friends and family down there. Obviously that was a big reason, because he knows the direction of our program and where we are going. I think offensively we ended up ranked 34th in scoring and they ended up 100th.

"There were a lot of reasons for him to stay, but in the end, there are so many people close to him down there. He grew up an LSU fan. And obviously they offered him something we couldn't in being the recruiting coordinator."

Kiffin said the Vols will "lose a lot" with Wilson's departure but that it shouldn't deter bowl preparations. Kiffin coached many prolific wide receivers at Southern California.

"Frank is a great coach and recruiter," Kiffin said. "But if there's a position that we could stand to lose someone from a schematical standpoint, it's receiver, because that is what I have done before."

Kiffin didn't set a timetable for hiring Wilson's eplacement.

"We take a long time ... with the hiring process," Kiffin said. "We are very thorough. When we hire people, we actually interview them. We sit them down, put them on the chalkboard and see what they know. The process takes a long time, because we have to make sure we do it right.

"The last thing we want to do is hire the wrong people by making a quick hire. It's more important to get it done right instead of fast."

UT was initially scheduled to practice at 4 p.m. Saturday, but coaches moved it back to 2:30 so the players could draw motivation from watching the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Media weren't told of the time change, so Kiffin was the only player or coach available for a Saturday interview.

Junior wide receiver Gerald Jones said Friday night that he hoped Wilson would stay but would be OK if the coach left. The player said he and most teammates understand that major college football is a "business" and that most players and coaches want to advance their careers as quickly as possible.

"We've been through worse," Jones said. "It is what it is."

Jones said Wilson was a "big reason" for the Vols' consistent passing-game improvements this season.

"I wouldn't say he was overlooked, but I think he deserved more credit than he's gotten," Jones said. "At the beginning of the year, the receiver corps was suspect. It was, 'Oh, my gosh, the receivers aren't in the right spot. (Jonathan) Crompton's overthrowing them. Whose fault is it?'

"Now you barely see drops by the receivers. You see big-time plays. As a corps, we're coming together, and we're becoming I think one of the best receiver corps in the nation. And all credit is due to him."

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