Bielema gives Chaney reins to UA offense

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Jim Chaney, who spent the last four seasons at Tennessee, was named Arkansas' offensive coordinator on Wednesday.
Photo by The Associated Press
Jim Chaney, who spent the last four seasons at Tennessee, was named Arkansas' offensive coordinator on Wednesday.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema has hired Jim Chaney as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Razorbacks.

Chaney, 50, has vast offensive experience on multiple levels, including nine years on Joe Tiller’s staff at Purdue during Drew Brees’ college stint and three years with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Chaney has served as offensive coordinator at Tennessee the past four seasons. The Holden, Mo., na- tive was hired by Lane Kiffin in 2009 and made the transition to Derek Dooley’s staff with the Volunteers. Chaney led Tennessee to a 37-17 victory over Kentucky in the season finale as the Vols’ interim coach after Dooley was fired.

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“Jim Chaney’s approach will blend well with my ideas as we work to put together a plan for the team we have and over time develop our specific philosophy,” Bielema said in a university release. “While he was at Purdue, several of the best coaches in the nation sought his advice on how to use the Spread offense.

“Jim went on to spend a few years in the NFL and gained a new appreciation for a pro-style offense similar to the balanced attack we will look to incorporate at Arkansas.”

Like Bielema, Chaney played nose tackle in college. A Central Missouri State graduate, Chaney began his career with an eight-year stay at Cal State-Fullerton. He then went to Wyoming for four years before starting his lengthy stint at Purdue.

Tennessee ranked 19th in total offense this season, averaging 475.9 yards per game. The Volunteers averaged 36.17 points per game to rank 23rd in the nation and 16th in passing (315.6 yards per game).

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray flourished under Chaney, passing for 3,619 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Bray broke Peyton Manning’s single-game passing record when he threw for 530 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-48 victory over Troy on Nov. 3.

Volunteers receiver Justin Hunter ranked third in the SEC with 1,083 receiving yards and fourth in the conference with an average of 6.1 receptions per game this season. His 73 catches were the second-highest total in school history.

Tennessee also pass protected well, leading the SEC and ranking fourth in the country in allowing just 0.67 sacks per game.

With Bray injured for much of 2011, the Volunteers ranked 104th nationally in total offense (332.7 ypg) and 106th in scoring (20.3 ppg) while going 5-7.

Chaney is known in college football circles as having a good sense of humor and an easygoing personality. Chaney will conduct a teleconference with reporters today.

There were media reports suggesting former Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman would be joining the Razorbacks along with Chaney, but Arkansas officials have not made that announcement.

Bielema’s staff is slowly rounding into shape. Chaney’s hiring comes one day after Chris Ash was introduced as Arkansas’ defensive coordinator. Ash was on Bielema’s staff at Wisconsin.

Other elements appear to be falling into place as well.

Chris Hauser, who served as director of on-campus recruiting under Bielema at Wisconsin this season, has been spotted in Razorbacks attire on the Fayetteville campus the past couple of days, leading some to believe he’ll handle the same job at Arkansas.

Mark Robinson, Arkansas’ director of football operations the past five years, stands a good chance of being retained on Bielema’s first staff, according to sources close to the program. Neither of those moves has been confirmed by the UA athletic department.

Paul Haynes, who was Arkansas’ defensive coordinator in 2012, is reportedly in the running for the head coaching job at Kent State, based on industry sources and a report by Pete Roussel of

Darrell Hazel, who worked with Haynes and Arkansas linebackers coach Taver Johnson at Ohio State for several seasons, led Kent State to an 11-2 record and a berth in the GoDaddy.Com Bowl against Arkansas State on Jan. 6. He is scheduled to remain with the Golden Flashes through the bowl before taking over as the head coach at Purdue.

Haynes and Johnson also could be candidates for his Boilermakers staff.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources, that two current Badgers assistants — defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge and linebackers coach Andy Buh — have multiple offers in hand and have not made a decision where they will coach in 2013. Presumably, one of their offers is to follow Bielema to Arkansas.

Ash and the other Wisconsin assistant coaches have said they are committed to remaining on the Badgers’ staff through the Rose Bowl game Jan. 1.

Arkansas running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton is reportedly still in the running for the head coaching job at Appalachian State, where he previously worked for nine years.

Sports, Pages 19 on 12/13/2012