UT Vols: Jim Chaney agrees to three-year deal to become Tennessee offensive coordinator
Chaney agreed to a three-year, $4.8 million deal that runs through Jan. 31, 2022. He’ll earn $1.5 million in 2019, with $100,000 increases in each of the next two seasons.
Tennessee also agreed to cover up to $500,000 in buyout costs for Chaney leaving Georgia in the midst of a contract that ran through June 2021.
Chaney replaces Tyson Helton, who left UT after one season to become the head coach at Western Kentucky on Nov. 27.
Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt pillaged an SEC East rival to get his man. Chaney spent the past three seasons as Georgia’s offensive coordinator under Kirby Smart.
He’s a familiar face in Knoxville. Chaney was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator from 2009-12, working for Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.
“I’m thrilled to announce Jim Chaney as our offensive coordinator,” Pruitt said in a news release. “Jim couldn’t be a better fit for our program at the University of Tennessee. 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.
“What most impresses me about Jim is his knowledge of the game and also the way he has adapted his offenses to his players’ strengths. He’s had years where he has guided one of the nation’s top passing offenses and years where his offenses have been near the top in rushing. He could coach every position on offense and is a true teacher of the game.
“Jim has proven to be a great mentor for young men, and I’m excited to have him here at Tennessee.”
Chaney’s Georgia offenses operated a pro-style system, which is what head coach Jeremy Pruitt favors at Tennessee.
After ranking 87th nationally in total offense in Chaney’s first season in 2016, the Bulldogs improved to 32nd in 2017 and 18th this season.
Tennessee had one winning season during Chaney’s first stint in Knoxville, but Chaney’s offenses had their moments – particularly in 2012, when the Vols ranked second in the SEC in total offense despite a 5-7 record.
Chaney served as interim coach in the finale of that season after Dooley was fired. He led the Vols to a victory over Kentucky.
Georgia’s offenses were built on power run games, and quarterback Jake Fromm is a steady hand who thrives on play-action passes and smart downfield shots.
Tennessee’s offenses were balanced in Chaney’s time in Knoxville, favoring the run in Kiffin’s lone season before shifting to a slight passing edge throughout the Dooley era.
Chaney has stewarded several quarterbacks who have gone on to the NFL, including Drew Brees and Kyle Orton at Purdue, Tyler Bray and Jonathan Crompton at Tennessee, Brandon Allen at Arkansas and Nathan Peterman at Pittsburgh.
The 56-year-old Chaney is a Holden, Missouri, native who played nose tackle in college at Division II Central Missouri. He started his coaching career in 1985 at Cal State Fullerton.
He’s an experienced play caller who has worked in a variety of systems.
Chaney brought a pass-heavy spread system to Purdue in his first stint as an FBS offensive coordinator, but since then, he’s worked in mostly pro-style systems.
FAST FACTS: 5 things to know about Jim Chaney
$1.5 million — Where would that salary rank Jim Chaney among his peers?
According to ESPN’s Chris Low, Tennessee will pay Chaney somewhere in the range of $1.5 million/year.
That’s a steep raise, compared to his salary of $950,000 at Georgia.
According to the USA Today’s archive of 2018 NCAA football coaches’ salaries, that number would rank Chaney in the top-10 of all assistants nationwide.
A $1.5 million salary would make Jim Chaney:
–The highest-paid offensive coordinator in the country.
–The highest-paid assistant coach in the SEC East.
–The 4th highest-paid assistant coach in the SEC.
The highest-paid offensive coordinator in the country in 2018 was Tennessee’s Tyson Helton, who left in December to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.
(All numbers are based on 2018 coaching salaries)
These numbers may shake-out slightly different, when it’s all said and done, due to coaching changes, raises, etc.