Overall record: 0-0
Another Power Five defensive coordinator with no head coaching experience is on this list. Clark Lea heads to his alma mater, the Vanderbilt Commodores, where he played from 2002 to 2004 in hopes of rejuvenating a program that went 0-9 last year and resulted in the firing of Derek Mason after seven seasons on the job.
It’s a bid odd that Vandy went for another defensive coordinator, but at least they chose somebody who knows the lay of the land in Nashville, where he was born. Lea helped keep Brian Kelly’s program going with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and his improvement on the defense has been blatant.
The year before Lea arrived as a linebackers coach, ND gave up 27.8 points per game in 2016. In 2017, they gave up 21.5 points per game. A year later, Lea was promoted to defensive coordinator, and the Irish gave up just over 18 points a game. Then they gave up just under 18 points a game in 2019 and just under 20 points per game in 2020.
Simply put, Lea has been a brilliant defensive coordinator, helping Notre Dame make two College Football Playoff appearances in three years. Eventually, he could make Vandy tough for Tennessee football to handle once again. However, he’s got to prove it first.