Tennessee officially hires Mike DeBord

Tennessee officially hires Mike DeBord

Azzanni, Gillespie receive promotions

February 6th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College
Receivers coach Zach Azzanni watches the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium in this file photo.

Receivers coach Zach Azzanni watches the Orange and...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee officially announced the hire of Mike DeBord as its new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Friday morning.

The hire of the former Central Michigan head coach and Michigan offensive coordinator, who replaces Mike Bajakian after he left the Volunteers to become the quarterbacks coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15 days ago, was widely reported on Thursday.

DeBord, who turns 59 on Saturday, has been out of football and serving an administrative role in the Michigan athletic department for the past two years. He last coached in 2012 as the tight ends coach for the Chicago Bears. His last season in college and as a coordinator was at Michigan in 2007.

"We are very excited to welcome Mike DeBord and his family into the Tennessee family," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said in the program's release. "Mike is a tireless worker and innovator with a proven track record of success as both an offensive coordinator and as a developer of quarterbacks at a high level.

Azzanni, Gillespie receive promotions

Tennessee assistant coaches Zach Azzanni and Robert Gillespie received promotions as part of the Vols' staff changes.

Azzanni, Tennessee's receivers coach, will assume the role of passing game coordinator, while running backs coach Gillespie will assume Azzanni's role as the recruiting coordinator.

"Zach has been instrumental in our continued growth, development and success as an offense, particularly in the passing game," Vols coach Butch Jones said in the program release announcing the moves for the two third-year coaches. "He is consistently on the cutting edge of offensive football, and I look forward to his continued contributions to our offense here at Tennessee.

"Robert continues to demonstrate the interpersonal and organizational skills required to lead a coaching staff in attracting the highest caliber student-athlete to Tennessee. He has made tremendous contributions with his efforts in coaching our running backs and with the entire recruiting process. We know he will continue to play a significant role in our recruiting success."

Both promotions are expected to come with raises. Both Azzanni and Gillespie made $300,000 in 2014. Tennessee is increasing its salary pool for assistants.

"I know both will continue to make strong contributions moving forward toward our progress in returning Tennessee football to its rightful place among the nation's elite," Jones said, "and I'm excited at what we can accomplish collectively as a coaching staff moving forward."

"He has demonstrated meticulous attention to the small details, and he is a great fit with our staff, players and the entire Tennessee football organization."

Jones worked for DeBord during his tenure as Central Michigan's head coach as his running backs coach, then his offensive coordinator. While in charge of the Chippewas, DeBord also worked with Tennessee assistants John Jancek and Willie Martinez for a year apiece. He and Steve Stripling were on staff together at Michigan.

Nick Sheridan, the graduate assistant who helped Bajakian with the quarterbacks last season after one year as the full-time quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at South Florida in 2013, played for DeBord for two seasons at Michigan.

Tennessee's release announcing DeBord's hire included endorsement quotes from Tom Brady and Brian Griese, two of his quarterbacks at Michigan, in addition to Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Holmgren, who hired DeBord to the Seattle staff in 2008.

"It is truly an honor and a privilege to be part of the great tradition and culture of the University of Tennessee football program," DeBord said in Tennessee's release. "I was very selection about the job opportunities presented, and I'm very excited to be part of the building of something special here at Tennessee.

"The familiarity with the system, the staff and Butch Jones will be a great asset as we build upon and enhance our offensive system at Tennessee."

DeBord was on Tennessee's campus two weeks ago, and Jones conducted interviews while making recruiting visits the following week.

The other finalist for the job was believed to be Boise State's Mike Sanford, who spent three years at Stanford before moving to his alma mater last offseason. Other names linked to the job were Southern California's Clay Helton and North Carolina State's Matt Canada, who reportedly received a raise and contract extension.

Bajakian, the only offensive coordinator Jones had in his eight seasons as a head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee, made $480,000 in 2014.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.