Tennessee has essentially hit the reset button on its coaching search, which it probably badly needed.
The Vols have replaced athletic director John Currie with Hall of Famer Phillip Fulmer. The former Tennessee coach didn’t give any indication in his introductory press conference who he will be looking at to fill the void of head coach.
Picking someone with Tennessee ties, and a previous connection with Fulmer would make a lot of sense.
Two names, in very different stages in life, who fit the description stand out on Friday night. Duke coach David Cutcliffe and Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin could both be getting calls soon from Fulmer.
Here is a breakdown of what else could bring to the Vols.
|Year||Scoring offense||Scroing offense rank|
Cutcliffe would bring a wealth of experience to the coaching position. He’s familiar with Tennesse and coach Fulmer having been on the coaching staff in two stints from 1982-1998 and 2006-2007 both times featured time working under Fulmer.
His head coaching record won’t jump off the page at 102-96. The two coaching gigs with Ole Miss and Duke aren’t exactly cake wakes, though. Tennessee would easily present the best opportunity in his career to win at a high level.
Cutcliffe’s bread and butter is offense, but his offensive stats the past five years aren’t the most impressive. The numbers look a little better in the context Duke is really around the sixth best program in the ACC.
Still, the numbers will cause alarm for some fans. In the past five years, Duke has one finish in the top 40 in total offensive yards which came in 2015. The Blue Devils ranked 36th with 439.4 yards a game.
The most important stat is wins vs. losses, though, which Duke has more of in the past five years than recent history. Cutcliffe has led the Blue Devils to a 37-27 record with a fourth bowl appearance in the span coming this season.
It has actually been the Duke defense which has helped lead the team.
|Year||Scoring Defense||Scoring Defense Rank|
Cutcliffe would certainly bring a stabilizing sense with the hire. Tennessee could use that after the past 9 years, and especially after the coaching search this past week.
Tennessee has reached out to David Cutcliffe about the Vols' head coaching job, but Cutcliffe informed UT officials that he wasn't interested and plans to finish his coaching career at Duke. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the 5th time in the last 6 years.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) November 28, 2017
Cutcliffe did reportedly turn down the Vols on Monday, but that came before Fulmer took over as athletic director. He’s a mature coach who would bring a steady hand to the program
|Year||Scoring Offense||Scoring Offense Rank|
Martin would bring a completely different vibe if he were hired. He played quarterback for the Vols from 1996-1999 and led Tennessee to the National Championship victory in 1998.
What Cutcliffe would bring in experience; Martin bring in potential
He has spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator for USC. It’s a team with a lot of talent and was set up to win when he took over as offensive coordinator. The offense improved upon a solid 2016 season in points per game. USC also ranks 12th in the country with 488.6 yards per game.
The Trojans have posted a 20-5 record in the past two seasons with Martin as offensive coordinator.
Martin is just such an unknown at this time, though. He’s only 39 and would likely bring a jolt of energy to the recruiting trail Cutcliffe likely wouldn’t at 63-years-old.
Martin could fill the coaching staff out with a mix of former head coaches and Tennessee players to create a support system while he grows into the led position.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold could be a first-round draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Martin has helped developed the redshirt sophomore in his time at USC which is attractive to Tennessee. The Vols started three quarterbacks in 2017 in Quinten Dormady, Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride. None were particularly impressive for long stretches this season. Martin could give them guidance and help them grow as passers.
Martin is much more of a question mark than Cutfliffe, but his ceiling is likely much higher.
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