Tee Martin hasn’t interviewed with Tennessee, won’t discuss head coach job

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Speculation is heating up around USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin as a candidate for the open Tennessee job, but he won’t discuss the opportunity for now.

As USC opened preparations for the Pac-12 title game on Monday, the coaching carousel came calling with offensive coordinator Tee Martin named as a potential head coaching candidate, linked to one particular program at least.

With Tennessee’s head coach position still open after weekend drama involving the near-hiring of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, Martin has apparently become a serious candidate for the job.

On Monday, Fox Sport’s Bruce Feldman tweeted that Martin has a “legit shot” at the vacancy while ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit tweeted that Martin would be a “logic pick” for the Volunteers and a “great move” for the program.

As a junior quarterback at Tennessee in 1998, Martin led the Volunteers to a 13-0 season, winning the national title and solidifying himself as a legend in the program.

As his star rose at USC as an assistant, first coaching wide receivers, then taking over as offensive coordinator in 2016, Martin was regularly touted as a potential future head coach for Tennessee.

The future may have just come quicker than expected, after Tennessee fired Butch Jones and ran into trouble in seeking to hire Schiano. The crazier the circus around Tennessee gets—with calls for athletic director John Curries to be fired and Duke head coach David Cutfliffe reportedly turning the Volunteers down—the more it seems possible that bringing home a school legend could be a viable option.

Despite the swirling rumors, Martin did not address his future at USC or with Tennessee when asked about his link to the opening on Monday.

“I just don’t talk about other jobs during the season,” Martin said. “I’m really focusing on Stanford and that’s something that will be talked about after the season.”

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The offensive coordinator did confirm that he has not interviewed with the Volunteers, while speaking in vague terms about his head coaching aspirations.

“It’s a goal for all of us, I think, when you get in this business, if you get the opportunity to be a head coach,” Martin said.

Martin may not be willing to talk about the opportunity out there, but head coach Clay Helton was unequivocal in his support of his offensive coordinator getting a chance.

During the Pac-12’s Monday conference call, Helton repeated a familiar line, calling Martin “the most complete coach I’ve ever been around.”

“I know that his day is coming to lead a program and whoever decides to make him their head coach is going to get a very valuable commodity,” Helton said.

If Martin were to be snatched up by Tennessee, Helton would face the task of replacing him this offseason, though an obvious choice already works on the Trojan staff. Quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton was the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky before he came to USC.

Either way, clarifying the possibilities between Martin and Tennessee will have to wait.

“We’ll talk about it at the end of the season,” Martin said.