University of Wisconsin wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who made a strong impression this season coaching a mostly young and inexperienced group of players, has decided to take the same job at Tennessee.
A source close to the UW football program, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Tennessee has not confirmed the move, said Azzanni was leaving after the Rose Bowl to rejoin new Volunteers coach Butch Jones.
Tennessee officially announced the hiring of nine football staff members on Thursday, but did not name the wide receivers coach.
Azzanni served as Jones’ assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Central Michigan from 2007 to 2009.
In an interview last weekend, Azzanni expressed interest in staying at UW. But as athletic director Barry Alvarez’s search for Bret Bielema’s successor drags out, it becomes more difficult for current staff members to wait it out.
“No, it’s not easy,” Azzanni said of the prospect of another move. “If I don’t get an opportunity to stay here, this will be my sixth house in five years.”
“I don’t know what coach (Alvarez) is going to do or who he’s going to go with,” Azzanni added. “Hopefully, I have a chance to stay on.”
Two of UW’s top three receivers this year, redshirt freshman Jordan Fredrick and sophomore Chase Hammond, had no playing experience going into this season.
Azzanni’s energetic and hard-driving style was embraced by his players, who had one of the biggest adjustments among the six positions with new coaches this season.
“Coach Z preaches effort and attitude, two things they can’t coach,” Hammond said earlier this season. “If you don’t have a good attitude and a lot of effort, you’re not going to get anywhere. I think that has made our whole group better.”