KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — For all the talk of a “bidding war” or “arms race” for top college football assistant coaches, Tennessee’s shakeup at running backs coach last month appears to have few financial ramifications.
New assistant Robert Gillespie will make $300,000 at UT in 2013, which is exactly what he would have made at West Virginia.
Former running backs coach Jay Graham was scheduled to make $260,000 at UT and had been offered a raise to $300,000 before leaving. Florida State has not released his new salary, but it’s expected to be in the same ballpark as UT’s offer.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It didn’t take long for the newest member of Tennessee’s coaching staff to get a new Twitter handle.
New running backs coach Robert Gillespie is now @UTCoachG. In just one morning, he surged over 5,000 followers from about 1,500 at West Virginia when he was a semi-regular tweeter.
Gillespie did post a goodbye message to fans in West Virginia before switching over.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — We know Tennessee has interviewed former Chicago Bears assistant Tim Spencer and West Virginia assistant Robert Gillespie for the running backs coaching job recently vacated by Jay Graham.
UPDATE: Jones confirmed the hiring of Gillespie on Friday night.
But there was a third candidate, and he was from the SEC.
Georgia AD Greg McGarity told the Macon Telegraph that longtime Bulldogs assistant Tony Ball had interviewed with Jones, but elected to stay in Athens.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Who is Robert Gillespie?
The West Virginia assistant emerged Friday as the leading candidate to replace Jay Graham as Tennessee‘s running backs coach. A decision, and perhaps an announcement, could come soon. UPDATE: Butch Jones confirmed Gillespie’s hiring at 8 p.m. on Twitter.
Let’s run down what we know about Gillespie:
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — If you coach running backs and have ever bumped into Butch Jones or one of his staff members, congratulations — you made the list!
Well, not quite. But I did do a thorough search on the background of Jones and every other UT assistant coach, looking for ties with other coaches who might be good fits as Tennessee’s running backs coach.
Jones’ search should be a quick one, as spring football starts March 9. So this isn’t a “wish list.” In fact, there are some names that have been bandied about that we’re purposely leaving off this list until we get confirmation of interest. This is simply a list of coaching links.
The new coach doesn’t necessarily have to handle running backs. Tight ends coach Mark Elder has been a jack of all trades in his career, and he’s coached running backs before. In fact, many of the coaches on our list have handled multiple positions.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Why do coaches so rarely retain — or, as Butch Jones would say, ‘rehire’ — coaches from previous staffs?
The stunning news Monday morning that Jay Graham was leaving his alma mater for Florida State may be the best illustration.
Head coaches seek loyalty. Assistant coaches seek security and, at times, upward mobility. Those values sometimes clash. That can lead to breakups, particularly in marriages of convenience that occur in the frantic few months between the hiring of a new coach and National Signing Day.