Kevin Steele may not be a head coach anywhere, but the man has really cashed in this month. Tennessee football, which suspiciously hired him to an unspecified coaching role before firing Jeremy Pruitt and making him interim head coach, may relieve him of his duties after the recent hire of Josh Heupel as head coach.
To this point, it has not yet been decided, but it doesn't sound like Heupel is expected to keep Steele on staff. If he goes in another direction, Steele could collect $900,000, for a few weeks of filling in, thanks to a two-year guaranteed contract he signed with the Vols.
"Tennessee’s just hired Kevin Steele, the recent Auburn interim head coach and renowned defensive coordinator, is expected to be back in the job market – but wealthier in the process," FootballScoop reports. "Already pocketing checks from Auburn, Steele is set to make some $900,000 for his work on Rocky Top after a two-year guaranteed contract is evaporating into scarcely two weeks."
Steele was already owed upwards of $5 million from Auburn, where he coached in 2020. He made a play for the head coaching job there as well, though his gambit failed, and Auburn ultimately went for Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin. This money from Tennessee football would eat into that full amount owed by Auburn, but whatever the case, Steele is getting a big paycheck this offseason, while UT has to pay out a huge amount of money for minimal work.
Auburn's coaching search was chaotic, but Tennessee has the market cornered there. Between this year's turmoil and the wild search a few years ago when the Vols settled on Pruitt, after attempting to hire both Mike Leach and Greg Schiano and interviewing numerous others, there may be no program that is mired in more uncertainty than the Vols.
The Kevin Steele situation over the last month also just shows how ridiculous any argument that big-time college football programs don't have funds to go around is, even in a year where COVID-19 slashed funds across the board for schools.