As Tennessee prepped for its Music City Bowl date in December, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was rumored to be on the shortlist to join Mack Brown’s staff at Texas. At the time, the rumor mill suggested that Wilcox was having some personality conflicts Tennessee defensive line coach Chuck Smith.
When all was said and done, Wilcox stayed at Tennessee. But Smith isn’t. In what the school called a mutual decision, the former Vol player is leaving the UT program to “pursue other career opportunities.” I think we can do the math on what Derek Dooley might have done to keep Wilcox in Knoxville. FootballScoop.com reports that Dooley “has dismissed” Smith.
Smith will be replaced by linebackers coach Lance Thompson who will take over the D-line group. Ex-NFL player Peter Sirmon will be promoted from grad assistant to linebackers coach.
“I am grateful for the personal investment, hard work and passion that Chuck contributed to our program this past year,” Dooley said in a statement. “He is a dear friend to me, and more importantly, will always be part of the Tennessee family.”
Why such glowing words for a man who spent just one year on the UT staff? Public relations, partly.
Smith was one of the first positive “gets” of the Dooley era in Knoxville. Vol fans, thirsty for someone with a connection to their program in the wake of the Lane Kiffin disaster, latched on to the former Vol D-lineman who had been working as a consultant with the New York Jets before returning to Knoxville.
In addition, Smith and Dooley were high school teammates years ago in Georgia.
Don’t be surprised to see Smith go back into private business for himself, working as a pass rush consultant to players and/or teams.