Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney leaving for Tennessee job

Georgia will be searching for a new offensive coordinator. Jim Chaney is leaving the Bulldogs for the same position at Tennessee.

Tennessee announced the hiring of Chaney Wednesday.

Chaney has been at Georgia since Kirby Smart was hired as head coach in 2015. He was Smart’s first hire when he brought him in to coordinate the offense and coach quarterbacks.

Dawgnation reported that Chaney has negotiated a deal with the Vols worth between $4.5 and $5 million over three years — a significant raise from the contract he has had in place that paid him $950,000 annually ($2.85 million over three years) through June of 2021 at Georgia.

Smart was under the impression as late as Monday that Chaney would be staying, and the Bulldogs offered Chaney a raise to maintain his post.

Tennessee’s offer, however, grew too rich for Smart to match without disrupting his offensive staff’s financial harmony.

Recently promoted co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley is at $850,000 a year, and valuable offensive line coach Sam Pittman is making $825,000 annually.

In addition to their coaching prowess, Coley and Pittman are two of the top recruiters in the nation, as evidence by Georgia’s wealth of talent on the offensive line, and the talented prospects on the roster from South Florida.

Running backs coach Dell McGee is at $550,000, and receivers coach Cortez Hankton completed his first year on the staff at $375,000.

Smart has already been considering his options for a new defensive coordinator after Mel Tucker left the staff for the Colorado head coaching position.

Tucker had received the type of raise Chaney was seeking — $600,000 — following the 2017 season and was up to $1.5 million a year with the Bulldogs.

Defensive line coach Tray Scott made $420,000 last season and linebackers coaches Glenn Schumann and Dan Lanning were each making $325,000. Special teams coach Scott Fountain makes $300,000 a year.

Chaney also coached the tight ends at Georgia in 2018.

“I thought it went well,” said Isaac Nauta, who is leaving the Bulldogs for the NFL. “I thought the tight ends had a lot better year and did some good stuff. There was nothing that would’ve ever indicated to me he’d be leaving. The last time I talked to him was to tell him I was leaving and to thank him for everything he’s done.”

Former Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is the head coach at Tennessee. Last season, the Vols hired Georgia outside linebacker coach Kevin Sherrer to be the defensive coordinator for the Vols.

“Jim couldn’t be a better fit for our program,” Pruitt said in a statement. “His track record of success guiding offenses speaks for itself from his time at Purdue with Drew Brees to his time in the NFL and his success in the SEC at Georgia, Arkansas, and, of course, previously with the Vols.”

Chaney replaces Tyson Helton, who left Tennessee after one season to become the head coach at Western Kentucky. Chaney will be the Vols’ fourth different offensive coordinator in as many years.

Chaney was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee from 2009-12. He has a very close relationship with Pittman. Former Georgia assistant Will Friend is the offensive line coach at Tennessee.

Chaney’s three-year tenure at Georgia is his longest at any job since his four years at Tennessee.

Chaney coached under Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley as the Vols went 23-27 with him calling plays.

Georgia was 32-10 with Chaney as offensive coordinator the past three seasons, winning the SEC East Division each of the past two years.

As far as potential replacements for Chaney, Coley has previous experience as a coordinator at Miami.

Chaney never had “co-” added to his coordinator’s title. He remained the Bulldogs’ primary game-planner and play-caller.

Georgia finished 14th in the country in points per game this season, averaging 37.9. The Bulldogs have led the SEC in rushing in each of the past two seasons.

Georgia went 11-3 this past season, but scored just 21 points in a season-ending loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

Smart publicly supported Chaney throughout this season, even as the veteran offensive coordinator struggled to manage the Bulldogs’ quarterback situation with both Jake Fromm and Justin Fields.

Chaney said before the Sugar Bowl he felt he “did right” where Fields was concerned, but Fields announced last week he was transferring to Ohio State after filing the NCAA paperwork.