Looking back at the Mike DeBord era on Rocky Top
Days after the Music City Bowl win over Nebraska, the Mike DeBord-era came to an end at Tennessee.
The Vols’ offensive coordinator made the move to Indiana to take the same position with the Hoosiers. Retirement was on the horizon for the 60-year-old, but the Muncie, Ind., native was called upon by new Indiana head coach Tom Allen to keep working while being closer to home.
DeBord heads to Bloomington after the 2015 and 2016 seasons as offensive coordinator at Tennessee. He owns 35 years of coaching experience. pic.twitter.com/CqeOK7raKX
— Indiana Football (@HoosierFootball) January 4, 2017
Looking back on the DeBord tenure will show a two-year stretch of his offense being near the top of the Tennessee record books.
DeBord’s offense was not great all of the time, but had an identity emphasizing the run game.
The identity produced the second most rushing yards in a season in 2015. The Vols rushed for 2,908 yards in DeBord’s first season under Butch Jones, second only to the 1951 Vols (3,068). Tennessee finished with 2,668 rushing yards in 2016, ranking fourth all-time in school history, just shy of the 1950 Vols who rushed for the school’s third best in a season with 2,710 yards.
“We were very fortunate as a football program to have Mike DeBord a part of it, and you won’t meet a better person. And I am excited for him because I know his family very, very well and I know how important his family is to him,” Jones said in a teleconference following DeBord’s departure. “We were talking every day, every day. This has been something we have been talking about for a few weeks now and something that I know has weighed on him … . So I am excited. I’m forever grateful to him for everything he brought to our football family.”
DeBord leaves Tennessee following a roller coaster-type season collectively for Team 120. However, Tennessee’s offense stayed primarily consistent throughout the season, averaging 443.7 yards and 36.4 points per game. Team 120 set a single-season school record of 63 total touchdowns. The Vols also produced 473 total points, the second most points in a season behind the 1993 team (484 points) and a year removed from scoring 457 points in 2015, just shy of the 1990 Vols’ 465 points (third all-time in school history).
Jones enters a critical year in continuing his program, his fifth season on Rocky Top. Jones will look for his third offensive coordinator to come in and help Tennessee reach an accomplishment that has not been completed yet under the fifth year Tennessee head coach and something that has not been done at Tennessee since 2007 — to win the SEC East and play for the conference championship.
At the same time, Jones does not want to go in a different direction offensively, he wants to enhance and build off what has already been installed, an offense that produced 500 or more yards in a game eight times under DeBord (521 vs. Nebraska 2016; 516 at Vanderbilt 2016; 609 vs. Missouri 2016; 599 vs. Kentucky 2016; 684 at Texas A&M 2016; 523 vs. Vanderbilt 2015; 519 vs. Georgia 2015; 604 vs. Bowling Green 2015).
“I look at this again as an opportunity to enhance your football program and not change what we are doing, but be able to enhance it,” Jones said. “Again, I like a lot of things we are doing. But I also think it’s an exciting time for us because again we can bring maybe some fresh ideas in here, some new things. I think change is good. I think it revitalizes your players coming back and also from a competitive standpoint gives everyone a great opportunity.”