Kevin Steele is the new Defensive Coordinator at Tennessee

January 19, 2010

The Tennessee Volunteers have reportedly hired Clemson Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele to fill the place left by Monte Kiffin who left with his son for USC. Steele has worked as defensive coordinator for Clemson for the past year while the team went 8-5 for the season and won their bowl game.

In charge of a defense that finished 27th just behind West Virginia in 2009, Steele lead the Clemson Tigers to their worst defensive rankings since 2004. How much of this was an unavoidable product of a fresh coaching switch? We’ll never know. Steele only had one year to put together and implement his defensive strategy for Clemson, and now he’ll have to do it again at Tennessee. If we’re to learn from history, it looks like we shouldn’t expect any drastic improvements in Tennessee’s defense in 2010.

And now that sources are reporting his move to the Tennessee position, should Vols fans be worried? I don’t think so. Steele boasts a relatively impressive resume. Coaching under Nick Saban in Alabama from 2007 through 2008, Steele bolstered the Tide’s defense from 30th in 2007 to 6th in 2008. He also worked under Bobby Bowden in Florida State for 4 years.

Tennessee will be glad to have someone to fill the position and start putting the exodus of the Kiffins behind them. With their lightning fast exit earlier this month, Tennessee students rioted and sent obscene messages to Lane Kiffin in protest of his lack of commitment to their school. Hopefully this will appease the Vol’s violently loyal supporters while this situation blows over!

Looking at his track record, it seems that Steele needs at least two seasons to make a positive impact on a defense’s performance. Let’s hope his history at Tennessee (he was a linebacker for the Vols back in the 70’s) will keep him there long enough to have a positive impact on the school!

Do you think Tennessee has made a good hire? Check out Steele at a postgame interview after Clemson vs. TCU below.

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