KNOXVILLE — In the end, comfort and familiarity count.
Tennessee will imminently name Mike Canales its new quarterbacks coach, sources told multiple members of 247Sports including Ryan Callahan, filling the final truly open position on its coaching staff — though more changes are expected as both Don Mahoney, offensive line, and Steve Stripling, defensive line, are under contracts that expire at the end of next month.
Canales is the only of Tennessee’s myriad candidates to be quarterbacks coach who received two in-person, on-campus interviews, being on Rocky Top as recently as Monday.
The Vols also spoke with Ken Dorsey, Kevin O’Connell and Chris Weinke among others. Dorsey is reportedly receiving an NFL promotion, and both O’Connell and Weinke, who had strong interest in the job, now are expected to land back in the NFL. Weinke was told last week by UT officials he still was in the mix as late as mid-week, but O’Connell and Canales ultimately emerged as the top choices.
Canales and soon-to-be-named offensive coordinator Larry Scott have a shared history, and Canales, a longtime coaching veteran most notable for his work with potential NFL Hall of Famer Philip Rivers, has called plays more than 20 years of his collegiate coaching career
In fact Canales, currently an associate head coach and running backs coach at Utah State who was not promoted by the Utes last month to their offensive coordinator position, has called plays more than 20 years of his collegiate career. And just like Scott, Canales has experience as an interim head coach.
While the Vols interview a number of quality candidates, the fact is that most coaches either wanted to be both quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, or, more frequently, made clear they wanted to remain in the NFL.
It’s hard to overstate just how much NFL coaches have grown averse to the recruiting process and longer work calendar of the college game, which far exceeds that of both the high school and professional levels.