by UT Sports Information on December 13, 2012

in Tennessee Vols Football

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced today the assistant coaching staff for the 2013 Vols. The Tennessee coaching staff has coached and played in a combined 94 bowl games, including 13 bowls that are part of the Bowl Championship Series, as well as four NFL Playoff games and a Super Bowl. The coaches have helped guide their teams to 38 conference championships and three national championships.


“I am very excited about the staff we have been able to attract here to the University of Tennessee,” said Jones, who was hired on Dec. 7. “I said at my press conference that it would start with effective communicators, great teachers and individuals that could be become role models to our players. This staff features individuals are that fundamentalists in their techniques of the game and great recruiters who have a passion to be at Tennessee. We have been able to assemble a championship staff. When you look at the experience of these coaches over their careers, there is a great amount of continuity and familiarity.


“Our staff is comprised of teachers and mentors from all levels of football that have been successful and know what it takes to win championships. I have done my due diligence to compose what I feel is one of the best coaching staffs in the country, and I know everyone associated with Tennessee football will be proud of this staff. I know each of them is looking forward to representing the orange and being a part of Tennessee football.”


Current running backs coach Jay Graham will continue on the Volunteers staff, with the remainder of the 2012 staff members not retained. The wide receivers coaching position remains to be determined.


Mike Bajakian will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, with John Jancek serving as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Steve Stripling will be the Vols’ assistant head coach and work with the defensive line.


Joining Bajakian and Graham on the offensive side of the ball will be offensive line coach Don Mahoney and tight ends coach Mark Elder, who will also serve as special teams coordinator.


Along with Stripling and Jancek on the defensive side of the ball will be Willie Martinez, who will coach safeties and Tommy Thigpen, who  will coach cornerbacks.


Additionally, Dave Lawson will be joining the Tennessee staff as the Director of Football Strength and Conditioning.




Butch Jones, Head Coach

Mike Bajakian, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

John Jancek, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

Mark Elder, Tight Ends

Jay Graham, Running Backs

Don Mahoney, Offensive Line

Willie Martinez, Safeties

Steve Stripling, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line

Tommy Thigpen, Cornerbacks

TBA, Wide Receivers

Dave Lawson, Director of Football Strength and Conditioning



Mike Bajakian

(pronounced buh-JAKE-ee-an)

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

Williams College (Mass.) ‘96


·       Coached in seven bowl games, helped teams to four conference championships

·       Won two NFL division titles, coached in four NFL Playoff games including Super Bowl XLI

·       Two-time nominee for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach

·       Spent three seasons as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks from 2010-12

·       Previously spent three seasons in the same position at Central Michigan (2007-09) and three seasons with the Chicago Bears of the NFL (2004-06)

·       Was on the Bears coaching staff during Super Bowl XLI in Miami

·       His offenses have scored 30-plus points in 55.1% of his career games

·       The Bearcats led the Big East in 2012 with 6.32 yards per play

·       Under Bajakian, quarterback Zach Collaros became only the second passer in school history to reach the 6,000-yard and 50-touchdown milestone. He left Cincinnati with a 62% completion percentage, 6,278 yards passing, and 51 touchdowns

·       The Bearcats won conference titles in each of the last two seasons, scoring an average of 33.3 points per game and 385 yards per game in 2011

·       The 2012 Cincinnati team turned the ball over on only 13.1% of possessions, the 20th-best rate in the nation

·       In 2010, Cincinnati led the Big East in scoring offense (27.1 ppg), total offense (417.3 ypg), passing offense (260.7 ypg), first downs (21.9 ypg), third-down conversions (45.6 pct.) and touchdown passes (27)

·       Tutored Isaiah Pead, the 2011 Big EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Year who recorded consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2010-11 and was a second-round selection of the St. Louis Rams

·       At Central Michigan, his offenses from 2007-09 were the three highest-scoring teams in school history since the school joined the MAC in 1975 while also breaking or tying 30 school offense records.

·       Coached CMU QB Dan LeFevour, who ended his career with the Chippewas with an NCAA FBS-record 150 touchdowns (102 passing, 47 rushing, 1 receiving)

·       LeFevour also finished his CMU career with 15,853 yards of total offense, trailing only Hawaii’s Timmy Chang at the time (16,910).

·       A native of Oradell, N.J. who was an All-New England Small College Athletic Conference and an All-ECAC quarterback at Williams College.


Bajakian’s Coaching Career

2010-12              Cincinnati                      Off. Coordinator/Quarterbacks

2007-09             Central Michigan           Off. Coordinator/Quarterbacks

2004-06            Chicago Bears               Offensive Quality Control/Wide Receivers

2002-03             Central Michigan           Quarterbacks

2000-01             Michigan                        Graduate Assistant/Quarterbacks

2000                  Sacred Heart                 Quarterbacks

1998-99              Rutgers                          Graduate Assistant/Asst., Defensive Backs

1996-97              Delbarton School          Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator


Mark Elder

Tight Ends

Case Western Reserve ‘00


·       Coached in seven bowl games, including one BCS bowl game in helping his teams to four conference championships

·       Joins Tennessee after three seasons at Cincinnati (2010-12)

·       Coached safeties and served as the special teams coordinator in 2012

·       Mentored running backs for the Bearcats in 2011 and tight ends in 2010

·       Tutored 2011 First Team All-Big East and Big East Offensive Player of the Year Isaiah Pead in 2011, who became the first Bearcats back to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 25 years

·       Coached Second Team All-Big East tight end Ben Guidugli in 2010.

·       The Bearcats won conference titles in each of the last two seasons, including an average of 33.3 points per game and 385 yards per game in 2011

·       In 2010, Cincinnati led the Big East in scoring offense (27.1 ppg), total offense (417.3 ypg), passing offense (260.7 ypg), first downs (21.9 ypg), third-down conversions (45.6 pct.) and touchdown passes (27)

·       Spent three seasons coaching linebackers at Central Michigan (2007-09)

·       Produced an all-conference linebacker in each of his three seasons with the Chippewas

·       Served as a graduate assistant at Michigan from 2005-06 under Lloyd Carr

·       Worked closely with the linebackers at Michigan, including All-Big 10 performers David Harris and Shawn Crable

·       Is a 2000 graduate of Case Western Reverse in Cleveland, Ohio ,where he graduated cum laude and was a three-time all-conference selection as a defensive back.


Elder’s Coaching Career

2012                   Cincinnati                      Safeties/Special Teams

2011                    Cincinnati                      Running Backs

2010                   Cincinnati                      Tight Ends

2007-09             Central Michigan           Linebackers

2005-06             Michigan                        Graduate Assistant/Defense

2004                  Wayne State                  Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2003                  Iona                                Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2002                  Lehigh                            Asst. Linebackers

2000-01             Akron                             Grad. Asst., Defensive Backs


Jay Graham

Running Backs

Tennessee’ ‘04


·       Coached and played in seven bowl games

·       In 2012, coached running backs for the Vols, during which the Vols more than doubled their rushing output, from 70.4 yards per game in 2011 to 160.3 yards per game this season

·       Joined the Vols after three seasons at South Carolina, where he coached running backs and tight ends during his tenure

·       Tutored standout running back Marcus Lattimore while with the Gamecocks, who was on pace to become the first South Carolina rusher to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the school since Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for the final five games

·       Rushed for 2,609 yards as a Vol from 1993-96 and ranks seventh on the Tennessee career rushing yards list

·       His 11 100-yard games in 1995 are the most in one season UT history, and his 14 career 100-yard games rank second in Tennessee history

·       Earned All-SEC second team honors as both a junior and a senior and helped the Vols to three bowl victories.

·       Also coached at Miami (Ohio), UT Martin, San Diego, and UT Chattanooga

·       Began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee.

·       Was a third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 and spent six seasons in the NFL with Baltimore, Seattle, and Green Bay.


Graham’s Coaching Career

2012                   Tennessee                      Running Backs

2009-11              South Carolina               Running Backs/Tight Ends

2008                  Miami (Ohio)                 Offensive Assistant

2007                  UT Martin                       Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator

2007                  San Diego                      Running Backs, Co-Special Teams Coordinator

2006                  UT Chattanooga            Running Backs

2005                  Tennessee                      Graduate Assistant


John Jancek

(pronounced JAN-sek)

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

Grand Valley State ‘91


·       Coached in seven bowl games while helping teams to five conference championships, including one SEC title and one national championship

·       Joins the Vols after spending the last three seasons at Cincinnati

·       Worked as the Bearcats sole defensive coordinator in 2012 after serving as UC’s co-defensive coordinator in 2010 and 2011

·       Also served as Bearcats recruiting coordinator for two seasons, signing the BIG EAST’s top recruiting class according the Sporting News in 2011

·       Coached UC’s defense to a Top 20 ranking in scoring defense in 2011 and 2012

·       Guided UC to the nation’s leading defense in terms of tackles for loss (8.62 per game) and second in sacks (3.46) in 2011

·       Coached 2011 BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year and current Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe

·       Prior to Cincinnati, spend five seasons at the University of Georgia (2005-09)

·       Coached the linebackers in all five seasons with the Bulldogs and served as co-defensive coordinator in 2009

·       During his five years in Athens, helped the Bulldogs to 48 wins, two BCS Bowl games, an SEC Championship and finished in the Top 10 three times

·       In 2009, mentored Rennie Curran, who led the SEC in tackles and was a finalist for the Lombardi and Bendarik Awards before going to the play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

·       Coached at Central Michigan from 2003-04 working with the defensive line his first year and as defensive coordinator in the second season

·       Worked at Division II power, his alma mater Grand Valley State from 1999-2002, helping GVSU to the D-II National Championship under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly in 2002

·       Also worked at Wayne State (1992-96), Central Florida (1996), Hillsdale College in Michigan (1996-98)

·       Muskegeon, Mich., native, graduated from Grand Valley State in 1991 and earned a master’s degree from Wayne State in 1994


Jancek’s Coaching Career

2010-12          Cincinnati                        Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2009              Georgia                           Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2005-08        Georgia                           Linebackers

2004              Central Michigan            Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line

2003              Central Michigan            Defensive Line

1999-2002     Grand Valley State         Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

1996-98          Hillsdale (Mich.)             Defensive Coordinator

1996               Central Florida               Defensive Tackles

1992-94          Wayne State                   Defensive Coordinator

1991                Grand Valley State         Graduate Assistant


Don Mahoney

Offensive Line

West Virginia State, ‘93


·       Help guide seven teams to bowl games and five conference titles

·       Joins Tennessee after three seasons as the offensive line coach at Cincinnati (2010-12)

·       The Bearcats led the Big East over the last two seasons with a combined 189.1 rushing yards per game from 2011-12

·       Cincinnati is also the only Big East team to average more than two rushing touchdowns per game (2.08) over the last two years

·       The 2011 Bearcats featured two offensive lineman on the All-Big East team

·       In 2010, Cincinnati led the Big East in scoring offense (27.1 ppg), total offense (417.3 ypg), passing offense (260.7 ypg), first downs (21.9 ypg), third-down conversions (45.6 pct.) and touchdown passes (27)

·       Also coached 2010 second team All-Big East offensive lineman Jason Kelce, a 2011 Philadelphia Eagles draft pick who started every game as a rookie

·       Coached offensive lineman at Central Michigan from 2007-09, during which time Chippewa offensive lineman received a total of six All-MAC selections

·       Spent eight seasons at Tulane coaching the offensive line

·       At Tulane, his offensive lines paved the way for the top rusher, all-purpose yardage gainer, top passer, and top scorer in school history

·       Coached at Central Michigan for six seasons before joining Tulane

·       Tutoring a total of six All-MAC selections for the Chippewas

·       Previously spent eight seasons at Tulane and six prior to that with CMU.


Mahoney’s Coaching Career

2012-10              Cincinnati                      Offensive Line

2007-09             Central Michigan           Offensive Line

1999-2006          Tulane                            Offensive Line

1995-98              Central Michigan           Tight Ends

1993-94              Central Michigan           Graduate Assistant



Willie Martinez


Miami (Fla.) ‘85


·       Has coached and played in 14 bowl games while winning three conference titles, including two SEC titles and a national championship

·       Coached at Auburn in 2012, serving as secondary coach

·       Has spent nine of his nearly 25 years in coaching in the SEC

·       Spent the 2010-11 seasons as the defensive backs coach at Oklahoma, helping Sooners to a 23-5 record and the Big 12 Championship in 2010

·       Sooners, led by All-American and current Denver Bronco Quinton Carter, led the Big 12 in scoring defense (22.1)

·       OU finished eighth in the NCAA in pass efficiency defense in 2010

·       Prior to Oklahoma, worked as defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Georgia from 2001-09

·       While the Bulldogs, helped team to 90 wins, two SEC titles, three division crowns, seven bowl victories and six top 10 finishes, including No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002

·       Worked as Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2005-09 and guided defense to several national top statistical rankings including eighth in scoring defense in 2005, fifth in passing defense and eighth in total defense in 2006, eighth in sacks in 2007

·       Served as assistant head coach and secondary coach at Central Michigan in 2000 as the Chippewas led the NCAA in passing defense (149.7 yards per game)

·       Worked as Central Michigan’s secondary coach in 1998-99

·       Also held the following coaching positions: secondary coach at Eastern Michigan in 1997, defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Central Florida in 1995-96, secondary coach Central Michigan in 1994, defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 1992-93

·       Coached in the Florida high school ranks in 1991 at Olympic Heights H.S. and in 1990 at Boca Raton H.S.

·       Began coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Miami (Fla.), in 1985-86 before serving as quarterbacks and receivers coach at Bethune-Cookman in 1988

·       A Hollywood Hills, Fla., native, played defensive back for four seasons at Miami, where he won the 1983 National Championship


Martinez’ Coaching Career

2012               Auburn                                  Secondary

2010-11           Oklahoma                             Secondary

2005-09        Georgia                                 Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

2001-04         Georgia                                 Secondary

2000              Central Michigan                  Assistant Head Coach/Secondary

1998-99          Central Michigan                  Secondary

1997               Eastern Michigan                 Secondary

1995-96          Central Florida                     Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

1994               Central Michigan                  Secondary

1992-93          Grand Valley State               Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

1991                Olympic Heights (Fla.) H.S. Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

1990               Boca Raton (Fla.) H.S           Secondary

1988               Bethune-Cookman                Quarterbacks/Receivers

1985-86          Miami (Fla.)                          Graduate Assistant



Steve Stripling

Defensive Line

Colorado ‘76


·       Veteran of more than 30 years in coaching, playing or coaching in 22 bowl games in his career

·       Helped teams to six conference championships, including four in last seven years

·       Spent the last three years at Cincinnati, working as the assistant head coach and defensive line coach from 2010-12; added responsibility of defensive run-game coordinator for 2011-12

·       Coached NFL Draft selections Derek Wolfe of the Denver Broncos and John Hughes of the Cleveland Browns

·       Guided Bearcats to one of the nation’s most improved defense’s in 2011, as UC led NCAA in tackles for loss (8.62), finished second overall in sacks (3.46) and placed sixth in rushing defense (96.23 yards per game)

·       Cincinnati finished in the top 20 in the NCAA in scoring defense in 2011 and 2012

·       Coached at Central Michigan in 2009  as the associate head coach-defense, working with the defensive ends

·       Coached the Chippewas to the 2010 GMAC Bowl Championship as interim head coach after Butch Jones left CMU to take over at Cincinnati

·       Coached the defensive line at Michigan from 2005-07, mentoring All-American and Lombardi Award winner LaMarr Woodley, who currently stars for the Pittsburgh Steelers

·       In 2006, the Wolverines led the NCAA in rushing defense, allowing just 43.3 yards per game

·       Coached in the Big Ten for a total of 22 years with stints at Michigan State (2003-04), Minnesota (1997-2000) and Indiana (1984-96), where he was the defensive coordinator in 1996

·       Also coached at Louisville in 2001 and 2002, coaching Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Dewayne White, who was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ top draft pick in 2003

·       First full-time coaching job came at Northern Illinois from 1980-83, as he helped Huskies to the 1983 Mid-American championship as the team’s offensive line coach

·       Served as recruiting coach at North Carolina in 1979 after two seasons as a graduate assistant as his alma mater, Colorado in 1977-78

·       Played in three bowls as an offensive lineman at Colorado, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Boulder

·       Signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 1976


Stripling’s Coaching Career

2010-12          Cincinnati                        Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line

2009              Central Michigan            Interim Head Coach/Associate Head Coach/Defensive Ends

2005-07        Michigan                         Defensive Line

2003-04        Michigan State               Defensive Line

2001-02         Louisville                         Defensive Line

1997-2000     Minnesota                       Linebackers/Recruiting Coordinator

1996               Indiana                            Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

1990-95          Indiana                            Defensive Line

1984-89          Indiana                            Offensive Line

1980-83          Northern Illinois              Offensive Line

1979               North Carolina                Recruiting Coach

1977-78          Colorado                         Graduate Assistant



Tommy Thigpen


North Carolina ‘93


·       Spent last four seasons in the SEC at Auburn, winning the 2010 season BCS Championship

·       Coached and played in six bowl games in his career

·       Worked as Tigers’ linebackers coach in 2012 after serving as safeties coach from 2009-11

·       Helped Auburn to ninth-best rushing defense in the NCAA in 2010 (109.1 yards per game)

·       Came to Auburn after working four seasons at his alma mater, North Carolina from 2005-08, where he was the Tar Heels’ linebackers coach

·       Named one of the nation’s Top 25 recruiters by in 2007

·       Coached at Illinois for two seasons as linebackers coach in 2004 and cornerbacks coach in 2003

·       Spent 2001 and 2002 at Bowling Green as the Falcons cornerbacks and special teams coach

·       First full-time coaching job came as linebackers coach at Tennessee State in 2000

·       Served as a graduate assistant at North Carolina 1998-99

·       After an All-ACC career at UNC, was drafted by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 1993 draft

·       Also played for the Barcelona Dragons in the World League of American Football in 1995-96

·       Won four letters as a linebacker with UNC and served as team captain as a senior in 1992


Thigpen’s Coaching Career

2012               Auburn                            Linebackers

2009-11          Auburn                            Safeties

2005-08        North Carolina                Linebackers

2004              Illinois                              Linebackers

2003              Illinois                              Cornerbacks

2001-02         Bowling Green                Cornerbacks/Special Teams

2000              Tennessee State             Linebackers

1998-99          North Carolina                Graduate Assistant



Dave Lawson

Director of Football Strength and Conditioning

West Virginia Tech ‘92


·       Has been a part of 10 teams that played in bowl games and four that won conference titles

·       Spent last three years at Cincinnati as the Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Performance and Director of Football strength and conditioning at the University of Cincinnati

·       Spent three years at Central Michigan University (2007-09) where he oversaw and directed the strength and conditioning efforts for all 16 CMU varsity athletic programs

·       Certified strength and conditioning coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association and a certified speed and explosion specialist by the National Association of Speed and Explosion

·       Coached seven Strength and Conditioning All-Americans, eight football All-Americans and more than 80 football players either drafted or signed as free agents by the NFL

·       In 2009, recognized as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach, the highest honor presented in the field, by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA)

·       Two CMU student-athletes–football player Brian Brunner and softball player Ali Pettit–earned Strength and Conditioning All-America honors under his tutelage in 2009

·       Spent five years working at Eastern Michigan University as the head strength and conditioning coach from 2002-08

·       Worked at West Virginia for seven seasons from 1994-2002

·       Started as a graduate assistant in 1994 before being named assistant strength and conditioning coordinator in May 1995. Working with all 22 varsity sports and a football team that went to five straight bowl games and the men’s basketball team that advanced to the NCAA and National Invitational Tournaments

·       Began career as an undergraduate at West Virginia Tech, as student assistant on both the strength and conditioning staff and football coaching staff

·       Named head strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater and served as an assistant on the football staff, coaching defensive linemen and special teams in 1992 and 1993

·       Earned a bachelor of arts degree in physical education from West Virginia Institute of Technology in 1992 and a master of science degree in physical education from West Virginia University in 1995

Lawson’s Coaching Career

2010-12        Cincinnati                            Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Performance and

Director of Football Strength and Conditioning

2007-09       Central Michigan                 Director of Strength and Conditioning

2002-08       Eastern Michigan                Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

1995-02        West Virginia                      Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator

1994-95        West Virginia                      Strength and Conditioning Graduate Assistant

1992-94        West Virginia Tech             Student Assistant




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