Kevin Steele to serve as acting head coach as Tennessee football searches for Jeremy Pruitt's replacement

Will Backus
Knoxville News Sentinel

Kevin Steele will serve as Tennessee football's acting head coach.

He will guide the program while the university searches for a replacement for Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired for cause on Monday for alleged NCAA violations under his watch.

Steele signed a two-year contract on Jan. 12 to become a defensive assistant coach with the Vols.

Steele, 62, has experience helping a team through transition, recently serving as the interim coach at Auburn after it fired Gus Malzahn. He had previously served as the Tigers' defensive coordinator for five seasons. 

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Steele was also head coach at Baylor from 1999-2002, where he compiled a 9-36 overall record.

He has a long past with Tennessee, beginning as a linebacker for the Vols from 1978-79. As soon as his playing career ended, he joined coach Johnny Majors' staff as a student assistant and 1980 and then a graduate assistant the next year. 

In 1982, he was given his first official coaching role, guiding outside linebackers for the Vols. After stints with New Mexico State and Oklahoma State from 1983-86, he returned to Tennessee to coach defensive backs from 1987-88.

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Athletics director Phillip Fulmer considered Steele during Tennessee's coaching search in 2017. 

Including Tennessee, Steele has worked at four SEC institutions during his coaching career. He was the defensive coordinator at Alabama in 2007 and at LSU in 2015 before moving on to Auburn. 

Steele also has stops at Clemson, Florida State and Nebraska, as well as a stint in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, on his coaching resume.