When Mike Bajakian left Tennessee in the lurch by bolting for the NFL in late January — well after most coordinator moves had been made — Butch Jones turned to a familiar face.

The Volunteers brought in Mike DeBord to run the offense and replace the only OC that Jones had ever worked with as a head coach. DeBord and Jones go back a long ways, too; Jones worked on DeBord’s staff as an offensive coach, first with running backs then as OC when DeBord was the head coach at Central Michigan from 2000-03.

DeBord, who had worked in an administrative role at Michigan since 2013, shares an offensive philosophy with Jones. While wide receivers coach and new passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni can say the same, DeBord has a wealth of experience to fall back on as a coach, especially as one who has spent much of his career working with the offensive line, Tennessee’s biggest trouble spot.

While the hire didn’t exactly win the press conference, DeBord is winning over his new co-workers in Knoxville.

“He’s really brought our staff together,” Azzanni told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “He was just himself. That’s what was neat. Coach DeBord has no ego. None. It was really easy for him to come in and fit in and joke around with each and all of us.”

The way DeBord has seamlessly jumped into his role has allowed Tennessee to keep building on a promising finish to the season last year, when Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd led the Vols to a 4-1 mark down the stretch. While DeBord will likely make some tweaks to Jones’ zone-read attack, they’ll be subtle, hoping to amplify the offense instead of outright changing it.

“‘This isn’t my offense. This is the Tennessee offense,'” DeBord told the rest of the staff in his first meeting with them, according to the Times Free Press. “I want all their input all the time. We’ve had great communication in that room.”

DeBord’s excitement about getting back on the sidelines plays a role in his easy transition. After coaching more than 30 years without taking a season off, DeBord’s hiatus at Michigan — where he won a national title as offensive coordinator in 1997 — allowed him to be selective with coaching opportunities, DeBord said in his introductory press conference. His enthusiasm at his new job is something he’s had to push down a bit in order to focus on the task at hand.

“I try not to get caught up in (the emotions),” DeBord told the Tennesseean. “I try to stay focused on my job. That’s what I’m going to try and do is concentrate on what I need to do.”

What he does, according to the members of the offensive staff, is flat-out coach football.

“He’s a tremendous ball coach. He knows ball,” offensive line coach Don Mahoney told the Times Free Press. “He’s really jumped into knowing all that he can about the different players and positions. It’s been interesting to see him interact with those guys, and he does a really good job. It just comes natural.”

That natural fit could help dispel the murmurs that questioned DeBord’s hiring back in February. If DeBord brings Dobbs and the offense along and helps the rising junior become one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks, and if he can repair an offensive line that was a sieve in 2014, Jones’ decision to hire his old boss could end up being hailed as one of his best.