KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones announced this evening the addition of Brady Hoke as associate head coach/defensive line and Walt Wells as offensive line coach. Steve Stripling was named director of football program development after serving as associate head coach and defensive line coach for the Vols over the past four seasons. Don Mahoney did not have his contract renewed after serving as offensive line coach for the past four seasons.
Hoke spent the 2016 season at Oregon as defensive coordinator/defensive ends coach after 12 seasons as a head coach at the FBS level. Wells served as the Vols’ offensive quality control in 2016.
Wells, a Nashville native, has more than 21 years of coaching experience as an offensive line coach and coordinator with previous stops at Eastern Kentucky (1997-2002, 2015), New Mexico State (2014), South Florida (2013) and Western Kentucky (2003-12). He was assistant head coach/offensive line coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2015 and served as South Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2013. He worked as Western Kentucky’s offensive coordinators and running game coordinator in his final four seasons with the Hilltoppers.
Hoke has 33 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level including 12 seasons as a FBS head coach with Michigan (2011-14), San Diego State (2009-10) and Ball State (2003-08). The 58-year-old Ohio native earned conference coach-of-the-year honors in three different leagues as a head coach while posting a 78-70 overall record. In his time as a head coach, Hoke’s teams produced 74 all-conference selections. He brings 18 seasons of experience as a defensive line coach with stops at Grand Valley State (1983), Western Michigan (1984-86), Oregon State (1989-94) and Michigan (defensive ends coach 1995-96, defensive line coach 1997-2001, associate head coach/defensive line coach 2002).
Hoke, 58, spent four seasons at the Michigan helm where he guided the Wolverines to a 31-20 mark including an 18-14 conference record. He became the first Michigan head coach to go undefeated at home in his first two seasons since Fielding Yost in 1901-02. The Wolverines were a perfect 8-0 at Michigan Stadium in 2011 and 6-0 at the “Big House” in 2012.
In his first season in Ann Arbor, Hoke led the Wolverines to an 11-2 record and an Allstate Sugar Bowl victory in his first season. Hoke became one of eight coaches to direct a team to a BCS bowl in his first season while he became the third coach to direct a team to a BCS bowl victory in his first season. Nationally, he was named the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year and was named a finalist for three other national coach-of-the-year honors: the Bear Bryant, Eddie Robinson and Liberty Mutual awards. The Big Ten Conference’s coaches voted Hoke as the inaugural recipient of the Hayes-Schembechler Coach-of-the-Year Award, while the Big Ten media named him the Dave McClain Coach of the Year.
Hoke was only the fifth Big Ten coach to win at least 10 games in his first season as head coach and became the third Michigan coach to win his first six games (along with Fielding Yost-1901; and Bennie Oosterbaan-1948). With four more wins than the 2010 squad (7-6), Hoke tied Yost’s 1901 team as the school’s only two teams with a four-win improvement under a first-year head coach from the previous season.
A former linebacker at Ball State, Hoke’s defense at Michigan improved from a unit that ranked 108th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring defense prior to his arrival and 110th in yards allowed to one that ranked among the top 20 in the country in scoring and total defense in 2011 and 2012. The final year of his tenure was the Wolverines’ best on defense as they ranked seventh in the nation, allowing only 311.3 yards per contest.
Twenty-one Wolverines earned All-Big Ten distinction in four seasons under Hoke, including back-to-back-to-back Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year winners in center David Molk (2011) and left tackle Taylor Lewan (2012-13). Devin Funchess also earned Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year honors in 2013.
Hoke also excelled on the recruiting front, signing a pair of top-five recruiting classes at Michigan. His 2013 class ranked No. 2 nationally and produced 2015 All-America selections Jake Butt (TE) and Jourdan Lewis (CB).
Prior to joining Michigan, Hoke spent two seasons as head coach at San Diego State. He earned Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2010 and guided the Aztecs to their first bowl game in 12 years during his final season as well as the most wins (9-4) since 1977. Six of his players earned All-MWC first team honors in 2010, including running back Ronnie Hillman, the league’s Freshman of the Year. Seven additional players earned second team (4) honors and honorable mention (3). In 2009, five players were named to All-MWC teams, while 11 were MWC All-Academic selections in Hoke’s first season at San Diego State.
Hoke earned his first head coaching job at his alma mater, Ball State, where he directed the program for six seasons to a 34-38 record. His tenure culminated with 12-1 campaign in 2008 and an undefeated Mid-American Conference regular season. Ball State earned its first-ever Associated Press top 25 ranking and Hoke was named the 2008 MAC Coach of the Year. He mentored players to 35 All-MAC selections in six years en route to a back-to-back bowl game appearances in 2007 and 2008.
Hoke began his coaching career as a defensive coordinator at Yorktown (Ind.) High School in 9881 before entering the collegiate ranks as an assistant coach at Grand Valley (Mich.) State in 1983. His coaching career has also stops at Western Michigan (1984-86), Toledo (1987-88), Oregon State (1989-94) and Michigan (1995-2002). He served as defensive line coach at each of his assistant coaching stints with the exception of Toledo, where he coached the Rockets’ linebackers.
As a defensive line coach at Michigan, Hoke was part of three Big Ten champion teams (1997, 1998, 2000), including the 1997 national champion and Rose Bowl-winning squad, before being elevated to associate head coach in 2002.
A 1982 graduate of Ball State University, Hoke earned four letters (1977-80) with the Cardinals. He was part of the only two teams in Ball State football history to post undefeated conference seasons: as a player in 1978, and as the head coach in 2008. Hoke led Ball State to the 1978 MAC championship and as a team captain in 1980, earned All-MAC second-team honors. He graduated from Fairmont East High School in Kettering, Ohio, in 1977.
He and his wife, the former Laura Homberger, have one daughter.
BUTCH JONES, HEAD COACH
“We are excited to welcome Brady and Laura Hoke to the football family. We feel extremely fortunate to get someone of Coach Hoke’s caliber that will continue to develop our defensive linemen while also providing expertise and experience to all of our players and coaching staff. He has an extensive track record of success as a head coach and on the defensive side of the ball. He will be a great fit to our entire organization.”
“Coach Stripling and I have a special relationship and I know how valuable a resource he is for myself and our coaching staff. This new position will allow him the opportunity to be involved in every facet of our football program, not just the defensive side or the defensive line room. Every coach and player will benefit greatly from Coach Strip.
“Coach Wells did a great job last season serving as a quality control coach on the offensive side of the ball and we are looking forward to him taking over the offensive line. He has extensive experience as an offensive line coach and will do a great job with our players.”
BRADY HOKE, ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE LINE
“Tennessee has a great tradition, a great program and a rabid fanbase. That is something you always want to be involved with. To come here and be a part of this staff — Coach Jones and I have known each other a long time — it’s something that we are very excited about and can’t wait to get started.
“I think we will work great together. These guys are all very professional at what they do. They are all in it for the right reason — to see kids grow from a spiritual standpoint to an academic and an athletic standpoint. Coach Shoop and I have been able to talk some and get together and I know Coach Thigpen. It’s something that we are very excited about. We can’t wait to get it started.”
WALT WELLS, OFFENSIVE LINE COACH
“I would like to thank Coach Jones for giving me this opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting to work with our offensive staff and our group of offensive linemen as we continue to develop in the spring. We have a solid nucleus of players returning and a group of young players eager to learn and make an impact this season.”
STEVE STRIPLING, DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
“I’m really excited about this new opportunity. I have enjoyed the past four seasons at Tennessee and I’m looking forward to continuing to see this football program grow into one of the best in the country. It’s a chance for me to be heavily involved in all areas of the football program on a daily basis. I think I can be a valuable resource to Coach Jones, our players and coaching staff.”