KNOXVILLE -- New Tennessee coach Butch Jones is looking for a running backs coach less than two weeks before his first spring practice with the Volunteers.
Running backs coach and former UT tailback Jay Graham accepted an offer to join Florida State's staff on Monday. Jones confirmed the initial report from Warchant.com, the Seminoles' Rivals affiliate, on Twitter.
"Jay Graham has informed us of his decision to accept a position at another institution," Jones posted. "The process of adding a new coach to our staff is under way, and we will hire the best person possible as we continue to build our program."
One of the most productive and memorable backs at Tennessee during his career in the 1990s, Graham returned to his alma mater when he joined Derek Dooley's staff in December 2011 following three seasons at South Carolina. When Dooley was dismissed after last season, Graham was the only assistant Jones retained. On multiple occasions, Jones has said he "rehired" Graham as opposed to retaining him.
After making $225,000 in 2012, Graham's salary increased to $260,000 for his first season under Jones, but he still made less than all but one coach on Tennessee's new staff. It's likely Graham's new position will include a higher salary and perhaps more titles.
The Seminoles' staff has been overhauled this offseason after defensive coordinator Mike Stoops took the head coaching job at Kentucky and took D.J. Eliot with him and Eddie Gran (Cincinnati), James Coley (Miami), Dameyune Craig (Auburn) and Greg Hudson (Purdue) left for other jobs.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's replacement hires included a couple of familiar names to Tennessee: Sal Sunseri, the defensive coordinator from the Vols' worst defensive season in program history in 2012, is the Seminoles' defensive ends coach and Randy Sanders, Tennessee's former offensive coordinator, joined the staff as running backs coach after has wasn't retained at Kentucky.
Now there's a third, and with Tennessee opening spring practice March 9, Jones must move quickly to find Graham's replacement.
More on this story in Tuesday's Times Free Press.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...