John Jancek: The coach in charge of transforming Tennessee’s defense


SDS will look at new assistant coaches around the SEC, highlighting their accomplishments, achievements, history and tough tasks ahead of them. First up, Tennessee’s John Jancek.

John Jancek, Tennessee defensive coordinator

Coaching History

John Jancek summed up Tennessee’s defense best after yesterday’s practice, the first day the Vols’ pads started popping, via Knox-News Sentinel.

“I think we’re a poor tackling team right now,” said defensive coordinator John Jancek after practice. “There are a lot of things we need to get cleaned up.”

Tennessee’s defense in 2012 was statistically the worst defense in the Vols’ illustrious history. Players were often out of position and nowhere in the neighborhood of being put in the correct position to even be successful. Sure, players missed assignments and tackles, but Sal Sunseri’s 3-4 scheme couldn’t bust a grape.

The bad news for John Jancek is that Al Wilson, Leonard Little and Eric Berry aren’t walking through that door – but he does have eight returning starters to work with and develop, headlined by one of the top linebackers in the league in AJ Johnson.

The Vols’ defense got a boost just by hiring Jancek, and once he puts them in the correct scheme and in a position to succeed, this unit will improve.

So, John Jancek is tasked with rebuilding the worst defense in Tennessee history into a winner. Who is he and where does he come from?

Jancek followed Butch Jones from Cincinnati after being the team’s sole defensive coordinator for just one season. Jancek was the co-defensive coordinator for two years with the Bearcats before Jones promoted him in 2012. Cincinnati finished with the 6th best defense in the Big East last season and finished 6th and 7th respectively in 2011 and 2012.

Jancek does have SEC experience, as he coached at Georgia from 2005 through 2009. Jancek served as the co-coordinator in 2009 and served as the linebackers coach for four years. Ironically, the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator during his time at Georgia was Millie Martinez, currently the Vols’ defensive backs coach. Georgia finished 7th in the SEC in total defense when Jancek was the co-coordinator. UGA accrued 48 wins, an SEC Championship and two BCS appearances and finished in the top 10 three times during his tenure.

Jancek started his coaching career at his alma mater, Grand Valley State. He became Wayne State’s defensive coordinator in just his second year as a coach, and he’s been the sole defensive coordinator for 11 seasons throughout his 23-year career.

But this is the stiffest slope he’s had to climb yet. The SEC is a line of scrimmage league, and Jancek’s first order of business is his front seven and stopping the run. The Vols yielded over 188 yards per game rushing to opponents last season and allowed an average of over 471 total yards per game. You think that was bad? Tennessee spotted their opponents an SEC-worst 35.7 points per game.

Jancek arguably faces the toughest test of any new coordinator in the SEC, and he’ll earn every penny of his $475,000 salary.

Photo Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports



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