Kirby Smart will have a busier-than-expected January on his hands, in the wake of Tuesday's surprising news from Athens.

According to Radi Nabulsi of UGASports.com, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has accepted a job at the University of Tennessee, presumably to direct the Volunteers offense, while serving under head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

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More than six weeks have passed since ex-Vols O-coordinator Tyson Helton left for a job at Western Kentucky. 

What can be explained for the long gap between hires?

The timing of Tuesday's news suggests Pruitt might have been waiting out Chaney's seasonal run with Georgia, including the SEC title game (lost to Alabama on Dec. 1) and Sugar Bowl (lost to Texas on Jan. 1).

Chaney already has familiarity with the vibe in Knoxville, working as Lane Kiffin's offensive coordinator in 2009, before serving under Derek Dooley in a similar capacity (2010-12). 

Chaney was also UT's interim coach after Dooley got fired late in 2012 (1-0 record ... win over Kentucky).

During Chaney's short time in Athens, the passing-game expert had to develop three young quarterbacks on the fly–Jacob Eason (since transferred to Washington), Jake Fromm (tremendous progress in Year 2) and Justin Fields (recent transfer to Ohio State).

Last month, UGA lost defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to a head-coaching job at the University of Colorado. 

CLEMONS: Check out these early national rankings for UGA in 2019

UPDATE #1

UGAsports reported over the weekend that Chaney had an offer from Tennessee.

Chaney, who made $850,000 last year with Georgia, recently had signed an extension for a new deal with the Bulldogs, Georgia SID Claude Felton told reporters on Monday.

UPDATE #2

From Anthony Dasher, UGASports.com

Among the potential replacements, sources tell UGASports that Smart is believed to be considering co-offensive coordinator James Coley to replace Chaney, who completed his third year with the Bulldogs.

Last year, the Bulldogs ranked second in the SEC in scoring offense at 37.9 points per game, fifth in total offense (465.7 points per game), first in rushing offense (238.8 yards) and eighth in passing offense (226.9)

A 33-year coaching veteran and a veteran of the SEC, Chaney will be making his second stop with the Volunteers from 2009 to 2012, ultimately serving as the interim head coach in 2012.