Tennessee strikes out twice in the ACC

January, 20, 2010
1/20/10
2:50
PM ET
What are the odds that not one, but two ACC coaches -- a head coach and a defensive coordinator -- turn down Tennessee in the same month for more money to do the same jobs?

[+] EnlargeKevin Steele
Jeremy Brevard/Icon SMIClemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele reportedly turned down a similar job with Tennessee.
So far the Vols are 0-for-2 this month in trying to recruit knowledgeable coaches from the ACC, as Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was the latest to prioritize people over his paycheck. Both Steele and sports information director Tim Bourret have confirmed that Steele isn't going to Tennessee, despite multiple reports to the contrary.

In order to understand what Clemson gained, you have to realize what Steele lost.

Would you turn down a salary offer in excess of $700,000? At your alma mater? SEC blogger Chris Low's sources say that's how much Steele was offered.

You can't put a price tag on integrity, though, and the ACC's got it.

The ACC has earned a reputation for hiring coaches with consciences, and both Steele and Cutcliffe have reminded us it's a trait that still exists is the big business of college football. Steele went to Tennessee. He's a proud 1981 graduate. He played there. Cutcliffe's daughter goes to school there. He spent the first 16 years of his career there. Yet both of them are focused on finishing what they started in the ACC.

Loyalty runs deep in the conference. Look at Frank Beamer and his staff. Jim Grobe and his staff. How Frank Spaziani stuck by BC, even when he didn't get the head-coaching job the first time around. How Maryland stuck with Ralph Friedgen, and he in turn kept his staff in tact, despite a 2-10 season.

Turnover is inevitable these days in college football, but it's also personal. It affects the staff, the players, the recruits -- everyone in the program. Steele and Cutcliffe not only thought about that, they opted not to be the catalysts of it.

Consider the ACC 2-0 against the SEC this month in recruiting, as Cutcliffe and Steele both honored their commitments.

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