Steve Stripling: 'I haven't even seen Knoxville in the daylight'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 10, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 10, 2013

Steve Stripling's head is still spinning.

The new Tennessee defensive line / assistant head coach has been getting used to his new home, but most of the focus has been inside the football building.

"It's been a sprint," he said. "It's obviously been very exciting to be part of this new staff with facilities, so it's been a sprint. I've probably been here less than a week, so I haven't even seen Knoxville in the daylight. It's dark when I come in and dark when I come out."

Stripling is a native of Colorado, but spend the last two decades of his coaching career in Big Ten country (aside from a two-year stint in Louisville). So he doesn't know much about Tennessee. A surprising person promised to give Stripling advice about the area: David Cutcliffe.

Cutcliffe and Stripling faced off in the Belk Bowl, and the former Tennessee assistant and current Duke coach gave Cincinnati's interim head coach some tips about UT.

"The last thing he said after the game, he was very complimentary and I told him I was going to take him up on his offer of talking where to live down here," Stripling said. "He has great feelings for this place."

Stripling and Butch Jones have a short, but eventful history together. They met when Stripling was at Michigan and Jones was at Central Michigan. After Lloyd Carr retired at U-M in 2007, Stripling joined Jones' staff at CMU in 2009, and the two have been together since.

When Jones left for Cincinnati, Stripling was the interim head coach for the bowl game, and the same happened when Jones left Cincinnati for Tennessee.

"Butch it attention-to-detail coach," Stripling said. "Coach Jones has his eye on everything, and I think my role (as assistant head coach) is to help him do that. I think he has confidence in me if he's out of the room or off the field that I can step in. The interim head coaching I've done for him has put me in that position. So we just have a great relationship and a great trust among each others."



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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