Defensive Coordinator Search: What's Taking so Long?
It has only been a handful of days since Tennessee's rising star of a defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, left and took linebackers coach Peter Sirmon with him to Washington, but in the world of major college athletics, mere days can equate to much longer.
The longer some of the Vols key recruits go without news of a replacement, the bigger the chance for decommitments and reconsiderations. In the immediate days following the news of Wilcox and Sirmon's departure, each of those scenarios played out among a small handful of Tennessee recruits.
With college football's clock racing toward National Signing Day (Feb. 1), many who follow the Vols football program have begun to question what the hold up could be in naming a replacement for both defensive coaches.
Is Tennessee willingly taking its time in in the process, or are the Vols selected candidates as skiddish about Dooley's future at Tennessee as most of the Vols faithful?
Recently, there were two high-profile SEC defensive coordinator positions open.
Ted Roof left Auburn for Central Florida on Dec. 8, 2011. Two days earlier, Willy Robinson resigned his coordinator position at Arkansas. Three days after Robinson left, Arkansas announced Paul Haynes as Robinson's replacement. Auburn, on the other hand, officially hired Brian VanGorder over one month after Roof left.
However, one of those programs was the defending national champion until Monday night's BCS National Championship Game, and the other just finished at No. 6 in the final BCS rankings for the 2011 season.
In other words, those programs could afford to take whatever time they needed to fill those all-important positions.
Derek Dooley and Tennessee have no such luxury.
Candidate names have run the gamut from the longshot (Randy Shannon) to the underwhelming (Kevin Steele) to the flat-out ridiculous (Phil Bennett).
If you have believed every report, you have likely been riding an emotional roller coaster for much of the last few days.
For all we know, Shannon could still be the guy, even though talk surrounding the former Miami head coach has cooled greatly since the first night of the search
Kevin Steele's Clemson defense giving up 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl apparently was a slight deterrent for Dooley, as Tennessee has reportedly "moved away" from Steele within the last few hours.
The report of Baylor's defensive coordinator, Bennett, turning down an offer from Dooley came via a Waco, Tex. radio host.
The big orange nation would have openly revolted if Dooley had hired a coordinator who was the mastermind of a defense that gave up over 40 points per game against teams from the FBS in 2011.
Among the latest names on the Tennessee coaching rumor mill are Former Florida and Illinois head coach Ron Zook, longtime Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green and Alabama assistant coach Sal Sunseri.
Will the Vols next defensive coordinator come from the latest round of names mentioned? Will the search end in time to save some key Vols commitments?
For the sake of the 2012 signing class, the 2012 season, and ultimately, Derek Dooley's job security, the process needs to speed up.