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Former Vol Aide Says He Left For Job Security

Since a season-ending loss at Kentucky last November, the Tennessee football program has hemorrhaged some seven assistant football coaches from a staff that only runs nine-deep.  Former Vol tight ends and special teams coach Eric Russell — who left UT to join ex-boss Mike Leach at Washington State — undoubtedly spoke for many of his former co-workers when he said an uncertainty in the staff’s status contributed to his departure:

“I think at Tennessee, it was going to come down to how many games you won the next year, and unfortunately nobody’s got a crystal ball.  I tried to take the sentimental stuff out of it.  A chance to be an assistant head coach and concentrate purely on special teams was a little bit of a unique situation.”

Let’s play a little game.  Let’s say you’re an assistant football coach.  You can either:

A.  Stay in your current job on a one-year contract knowing that if your squad doesn’t win seven or eight games for some reason, you’re a goner at year’s end.


B.  You can re-start your coaching clock by going to another school and getting more guaranteed time (or money should you be blown up after a year).

I think it’s pretty clear that Option B is the safest, smartest bet.  Which explains — in part — why several Derek Dooley aides have vamoosed to other schools for job titles that would have to be considered even.

The fact that Dooley — like Alabama’s Nick Saban, his old boss — has a reputation for not being the best guy to work for likely also added to the mass exodus from Knoxville.  Of course, in Saban’s case, his assistants are paid handsomely and have plenty of security via their tremendous success. 

That’s not been the case at Tennessee under Dooley.


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