Dooley Hires: Defensive Staff and Football Coaches Salaries Reviewed

Derek Dooley asked us to be patient as he focused in on recruiting in the weeks after his hiring and assured us that he would hire the right people at the right time. 2 of the last people he hired were the defensive line coach and the defensive coordinator. These two hires taking place so late faced scrutiny in light of the recruiting situation with defensive linemen. It was felt that a quick hire would have helped secure more of these players and while that may or may not have been the case, Dooley did the right thing and hired men of character who would be great for this program in the long and short run.

Defensive Staff

Justin Wilcox-Defensive Coordinator

Having previously served as defensive coordinator for the Boise State Broncos and compling an impressive 49-4 record with them during his tenure over the defense Justin Wilcox has quickly become a hot commodity rising through the ranks very quickly. His connection to Dooley is having coached against him in the WAC the past 3 years. He is highly regarded as an impressive X’s and O’s coach. He showed just that when he changed his base defense that he went with for the entire season during the bowl practice period to confuse the TCU offense and it paid off.

While some coaches look for experience and records when making hires, Derek Dooley was more concerned with character. “There were a thousand coaches that wanted the job,” said Dooley. “And finding the right person who was going to fit was more important to me than some resume hire. What really sold me on Justin was the three hours I spent eyeball-to-eyeball with him. He believes in the same things I believe. He’s got a great personality, he’s very humble, he wants to grow professionally. I’m happy to have him. I’m very thrilled.”

Dooley ensured his defensive recruits that he was intent on making the right decision, not the quick one. “I wasn’t going to rush into a hire and then two weeks later regret it because we were concerned with this year’s recruiting class,” said Dooley. “I told the players: I can go hire a guy right now that has 15 or 20 years of coordinator experience in the NFL, but that’s not really fair to you. What’s important to me is that I get the right coach that fits on this staff that’s going to support you; that I want him to support you. That’s why I took my time on it.”

Even though Dooley was looking at Wilcox’s personality, his on-the-field resume isn’t too shabby. The Broncos defense finished ranked No. 14 nationally in both scoring defense and total defense last season with Wilcox running the defense, allowing an average 300.2 yards and 17.1 points per game and coming up with dominating performances in the Boise’s’ biggest games. The unit held a TCU offense that averaged 38.3 points and 239.5 rushing yards per game to just 36 yards on the ground and 10 points in Boise’s 17-10 win in the Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl last month.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Wilcox said of his Tennessee assignment. “I’m really humbled to be considered and for Coach Dooley to offer me the job. Boise State is an incredible place and I really wasn’t looking to leave there. All this happened pretty fast. But after talking with Coach Dooley and a couple of the other coaches, and getting a feel for the way he wants to model the program and a lot of the philosophies he has, I just felt like it was a great opportunity at an unbelievable place in terms of the tradition. I think it’s just one of those things that was too good to pass up and I’m excited to be here.”


  • 2001-2002 Outside Linebacker Coach Boise State
  • 2003-2005 Linebacker Coach California
  • 2006-2009 Defensive Coordinator Boise State

Reaction: While its not officially been announced Wilcox should be handling the West Coast for the Vols which i think is a fabulous idea. I think he is an extremely bright mind with a high football IQ and in my opinion is a great hire. He was ranked as the second best assistant in the country last year by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit

Lance Thompson – Linebackers

Lance Thompson is the lone holder over from the Lane Kiffin era on the Defensive side of the ball. Him staying was a huge bonus for Dooley’s early career as he handled alot of our recruiting and knows a lot about whom we offered, who we signed, and who we have here already. I am so glad he stayed and hopefully he continues to stay. He was a part of two national championship teams at LSU and at Georgia Tech. He knew coach Dooley from his time at LSU. Thompson is highly regarded as an ace recruiter and was elected to the top 25 Rivals recruiters this past season for his efforts at holding our top 10 class together. He has been recruiting coordinator at two schools previously (Georgia Tech and Alabama) but Dooley wants him on the road as much as possible and felt that title and the administrative duties that go with it would bog him down here in K-Town.


  • 1988-1989 Graduate Assistant Georgia Tech
  • 1990-1991 Volunteer Assistant Georgia Tech
  • 1992-1994 Director of Football Operations Georgia Tech
  • 1995-1998 Defensive Line Coach & Recruiting Coordinator Georgia Tech
  • 1999-2000 Defensive Line Coach Alabama
  • 2001 Defensive Line Coach & Recruiting Coordinator Georgia Tech
  • 2002-2003 Assistant Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, & Tight Ends Coach LSU
  • 2004-2006 Defensive Coordinator UCF
  • 2007-2008 Outside Linebackers Coach & Recruiting Coordinator Alabama

Reaction: This is by far my one of the top 2 favorite people on this staff. His loyalty to the program and helping us through the transition on the recruiting front proved invaluable to Derek Dooley’s career in the early going here at Tennessee. He has a very impressive Resume and is a smart coach who is well liked by his players. His ties to the Atlanta area, and the states of Georgia and Alabama which he will be recruiting for the Vols have been recruiting hot spots for the Vols during his two years here and have been tabbed as important to Dooley. Keep him for as long as it takes.

Chuck Smith – Defensive Line

As Derek Dooley’s final hire Vol fans are greeted by a familiar face with former vol star defensive lineman Chuck Smith. Smith also played in the NFL and had a successful career. He was a teammate of Dooley at Clarke Central High School in the 1980’s in Athens, Georgia. The 40-year-old spent this past season with the New York Jets’ No. 1-ranked defense as pass rush specialist and assistant defensive line coach. Jets head coach Rex Ryan first hired Smith in Baltimore in 2008 when Ryan was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator and named Smith his pass rush coach.

“I want to thank Mike Hamilton and President Jan Simek for running UT like a first-class organization and bringing Derek in,” Smith said of his new head coach. “I know exactly the kind of character Derek has and exactly the kind of football coach he is.” Smith built his coaching reputation as a defensive line specialist throughout the previous decade. There are nearly 60 NFL players over the last five seasons to whom Smith has personally taught, trained and mentored the art of defensive line play. Among his star pupils are three former Vols — Albert Haynesworth, who this past season signed a $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins; Robert Ayers, a 2009 NFL first-round pick of the Denver Broncos; and Shaun Ellis, a Pro-Bowler with the New York Jets. Others include Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, Oakland’s Richard Seymour, the New York Giants’ Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta’s Jonathan Babeneaux, the New York Jets’ Bart Scott, San Diego’s Larry English, Cleveland’s Shaun Rogers and Seattle’s Patrick Kerney, just to name a few.

In the 2009 NFL Draft, seven linemen selected in the first five rounds trained under Smith. Smith also taught and instructed coaches from the professional to high school levels as part of Defensive Line Inc., a firm he started in 2001. Since then, Smith has concentrated his efforts on teaching and coaching what it takes to be a successful defensive lineman. “I’m just excited about this opportunity to be a part of a program that believes not only in winning championships but also having champions off the field,” Smith said. “Integrity always will be one of our goals.” This is Chuck’s first coaching job on the college level.

Reaction: This is by far my other top 2 favorite people on this staff. With his personality, his reputation of character, him being a former Vol, and his connections in Georgia through his company Defensive Line Inc., I think that Chuck Smith is the crowning jewel of this staff and will turn out to be invaluable in the long run. I wish we could have got Tee in here with him and those two plus Thompson would have locked down AL and GA for us in recruiting. Chuck will be handling north Georgia and Atlanta with Thompson in Recruiting.

Terry Joseph – Defensive Backs & Recruiting Coordinator

Joseph is by far the least experienced coach on this staff at least on the Defensive side of the ball. He served under Dooley at Louisiana Tech as Secondary coach and Recruiting coordinator where he was regarded as the nations # 4 recruiter from a non BCS conference. His arrival helped turn the Bulldogs defense around in both total defense and scoring defense. They sliced their scoring defense average in half in one season. He was a graduate assistant at LSU under Les Miles before arriving at L.A. Tech.  Before this he was a very successful high school assistant coach in Louisiana.


  • 2006 Graduate Assistant LSU
  • 2007-2009 Secondary Coach & Recruiting Coordinator Louisiana Tech

Reaction: Least favorite hire on the defensive side of the ball but he does hold strong potential and can at least recruit. He is very structured and by the book and will stay organized as Recruiting coordinator. He will handle Mississippi and Louisiana for the Vols and should prove successful given his Resume and high school contacts in the region.

Coaching Salaries Reactions

Derek Dooley Head Coach 6 years $1,800,000 – I think for a coach as unproven as he is this is exactly where he should be. If we have a successful year or two he can be bumped up to the 2.4-2.8 range but for now should remain here. I think he got a deduction from where he originally was to give more money to some of his assistants which I also think is admirable. Originally he was going to be brought in at 2.1 million a year.

Charlie Baggett Assistant Head Coach/WR 3 years 375,000 – I think this is a steal as he could have easily garnered more money in the NFL with his resume. I think he will prove highly valuable and well worth his salary.

Jim Chaney Offensive Coordinator/RB 3 years 425,000 – I think Coach Chaney deserves more considering what Wilcox is making and looking at what he has done for us and comparing their resumes.

Harry Hiestand Offensive Line 2 years 200,000 – Coming from the NFL this is a steal but I think its what he is worth.

Darin Hinshaw Quarterbacks 2 years 150,000 – Good price keep it here and maybe someone will steal him and we can get Tee Martin!

Terry Joseph Recruiting Coordinator/DB 2 years 175,000 – For his resume this is about right until he becomes more proven.

Eric Russell Special Teams/Tight Ends 2 years 200,000 – Great price and well worth it

Chuck Smith Defensive Line 2 years 225,000 – Good price probably will earn a raise with in two years

Lance Thompson Linebackers 3 years 375,000 – Should have been bumped to at least 400,000 considering what he did during the turnover time period and his resume. This will be easy for a school looking for a coordinator to come in and steal him from us. Lets hope we can hang on to him for a while.

Justin Wilcox Defensive Coordinator 3 years 600,000 – Over paid should be 100,000 less at least

Tennessee also announced the hiring of Bennie Wylie as head football strength coach under a two-year contract for $225,000 a year. I think its hilarious that he is getting paid more than 3 coaches and the same as another on the staff. Lets hope his salary is indignant of his work which we will see this season if this depleted team has the strength to compete.

Texas Head Coach Mack Brown makes more than this entire staff combined, and Saban, Meyer, and Miles all make way over 2x as much as Dooley


About Steven Harris

Steven Harris is a fifth year senior at the University of Tennessee. Majoring in sports journalism, this blog provides an outlet for Harris to share his thoughts on the state of the University of Tennessee's athletic department''s Volunteer teams. View all posts by Steven Harris

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