The Tennessee Volunteers are officially in the market for a new head coach. The Vols have fired Jeremy Pruitt after three seasons in Knoxville, leaving the Vols with a head coaching vacancy less than a month before National Signing Day. The Vols will be interviewing other candidates for the head coaching job, but they have named an interim coach in the meantime. Recently hired Kevin Steele has been named the interim head coach for the Vols. Steele was most recently the defensive coordinator at Auburn before being hired earlier this month to Tennessee’s staff.
Being hired at Tennessee represented a homecoming for Steele who played linebacker for the Vols from 1978-1979, and then began his coaching career with the Vols in 1980. Steele has four decades of coaching experience, primarily in the SEC, but with stops in the ACC, Big XII, and NFL as well. Steele was most recently the defensive coordinator for the Auburn Tigers from 2016-2020. He has also served as a defensive coordinator for Clemson, LSU, and Alabama in his career. Steele was previously the assistant head coach during his time at Auburn. Steele does have head coaching experience in the college ranks. From 1999-2002, Steele was the head coach of the Baylor Bears. During his tenure in Waco, the Bears went 9-36. Since then, Steele has been widely regarded as one of the best defensive minds in college football, and has been a key member of multiple staffs.
The 62-year-old Steele is the first Tennessee alumnus to serve as head coach of the Vols in any capacity since Phillip Fulmer was fired in 2008. It remains to be seen whether or not Steele will be named to the permanent head coaching position, but he will certainly be considered. There were rumors that Steele was the early favorite for the Auburn job after Gus Malzahn was fired. Steele brings a coach with strong background, experience, and Tennessee ties to the position.