Auburn’s former defense coordinator, Kevin Steele, has approved a deal to join the soccer coaching staff in Tennessee, sources have reported to ESPN.
Steele, 62, has been Auburn’s defense coordinator for the past five seasons, but the new Auburn coach Brian Harsen has not kept him, who has named former Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason as his defense coordinator.
Steele, the Brooks Prize finalist for best assistant coach in college football during the 2017 season, has deep ties to Tennessee. He played in Tennessee and started his coaching career in Tennessee, under Johnny Majors. Steele was one of the finalists for the job to coach the Falls team in 2018 when Jeremy Pruitt was hired. Steele and Pruitt worked together on the crew of Nick Saban in Alabama.
While at Auburn, Steele’s defenses finished in the top 20 nationwide in a defense scoring in four of his five seasons on the Plains. He is widely regarded as one of the country’s best recruits and has worked with some of the biggest names in college football, including Bobby Bowden, Tom Osborne, Dabo Sweeney, Lee Miles and Saban. Steele also worked in the NFL as a coach for the Carolina Panthers team-back from 1995 to 1998.
“He’s an amazing coach and strong as anyone I’ve seen hiring,” Bowden told ESPN.
Auburn owes Steele a little more than $ 5 million from the contract he signed in January, which at the time made him the highest-paid defense coordinator in college football.
Steele returns to his home school amid an internal investigation into alleged irregularities within the Tennessee soccer program that have continued since November. The university announced last month that it was keeping the services of Michael Glazier and Kyle Skellmann with the law firm Bond and Schoeneck & King to help review what the university said in a statement were “organizational issues that have been brought to our attention.”
ESPN reported last week that Tennessee had not extended contracts of assistant football coaches and had temporarily suspended hiring of coaches for vacancies while Vols continues to investigate whether there have been violations within the program.