Willis leaves Auburn for Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Two weeks before signing day, Alabama football coach Nick Saban has hired Auburn assistant coach James Willis to be linebackers coach.

A week after Tennessee hired Lance Thompson, the Alabama outside linebackers coach and reigning Rivals.com recruiter of the year, Saban targeted Alabama's biggest rival.

"We tried to go out and hire the best possible coaches when this process started and I'm confident we've done that," Saban said in a statement. "James has everything you would want in terms of finding an outstanding coach and an outstanding recruiter."

Willis, a former standout player at Auburn, had served on the Tigers' staff since 2006. He was the lone holdover after former coach Tommy Tuberville resigned last month.

"(Saban) is one of the best defensive coaches in the game and this is a chance to gain some great experience and learn from the best," Willis said in a statement. "You don't get many chances like that in the coaching business. When you combine that opportunity with the history and tradition at Alabama, it was a decision that was best for me."

Willis, who will also be associate head coach, will take over for Thompson in recruiting talent-rich Mobile. For the 2008 signing class, Thompson signed 10 players, many of them from the area.

According to Rivals.com, Willis was the primary recruiter for seven Tigers commitments and several top targets such as running back Trent Richardson and offensive lineman Brandon Moore.

Saban also hired Sal Sunseri, a former defensive line coach for the NFL Carolina Panthers. Sunseri, a former All-American player at Pittsburgh, will also coach linebackers at Alabama.

Sunseri worked in 2000 for Saban at LSU and for Tide assistant Bobby Williams at Michigan State in 2001.

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Comments » 40

CampVol writes:

They hired 2 LB coaches?

CampVol writes:

gatorzz, you spend more time on govols than most anyone on here. What gives?

Ironcity writes:

They need a coach for ever linebacker on the team. Alabama's linebackers are not the sharpest tools in the shed

NeylandWest writes:

Amazing. A former standout from Auburn joins the Tide as a coach. Talk about joining the dark side!

TommyJack writes:

in response to CampVol:

gatorzz, you spend more time on govols than most anyone on here. What gives?

Easy. He's a KNS stooge.

SemperVol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Easy. He's a KNS stooge.

Wonder how long it'll take him to call somebody a 'Lucy' or 'Sally'???

His mama taughted he no manners.

Usually he gives throws out a few derogatory comments before writing something ostentatious.

Oh the vanity in that mind.

polymer writes:

An Auburn alum and a coach on Auburn's staff moving to Nick Saban's staff in Tuscaloosa? This one should register a "10" on the Richter Scale in the state of Alabama.

sims1087 writes:

This is very fishy. Auburn all-american, coach, only hold over from TUBS staff. Leaves for rival. He cant go home now

SemperVol writes:

in response to CampVol:

They hired 2 LB coaches?

Things that make you go... huh?

ctownvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Easy. He's a KNS stooge.

Ya think?

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to CampVol:

They hired 2 LB coaches?

They had two last year. Steele coached inside LB's and was also DC and Thompson coached outside LB's and was recruiting top dog (I might have their coaching roles reversed). They run a 3-4 so they used 2 guys there and gave them extra duties beyond coaching. Plus Saban coaches the secondary so they save a coaching slot. Seems like that would make your defensive coaching a little disjointed but it apparently worked out just fine for them.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to polymer:

An Auburn alum and a coach on Auburn's staff moving to Nick Saban's staff in Tuscaloosa? This one should register a "10" on the Richter Scale in the state of Alabama.

Believe me - I'm here and it has. Of course, just like when all the Tiders/Tigers told me that losing Thompson and Gran to us was no big deal (yeah, right), you should hear the Tiders crowing and the Tigers whining. Of course, that's natural because those fans are just doing what they do best. Tiders are bragging and Tigers are pouting. That really is kind of amazing though considering he played at Auburn - then to hated Alabama? Wow!

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True. Of course, I'm too young but I seriously doubt if things were so hateful back then. Maybe they were. And maybe, just maybe, Willis doesn't share the rest of the new coaching staff's and fan base's enthusiasm about next year. I'm just sayin'. And to be fair, I'll be the first to say that as a defensive coach, I'd much rather have a few years under Saban on my resume than under the new Auburn guy (Ted Roof?).

Volunatic writes:

What you talkin' bout, Willis?

givehim6 writes:

CLK started some thing, getting other teams recruiters.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to SemperVol:

Things that make you go... huh?

semper...why do you hire a guy to stop an offence that rotates on your schedule every 4 years? oh well, i am proud of him for posting something positive...hummmm...the road to recovery...

maholt49#632667 writes:

in response to asleep#212036:

They had two last year. Steele coached inside LB's and was also DC and Thompson coached outside LB's and was recruiting top dog (I might have their coaching roles reversed). They run a 3-4 so they used 2 guys there and gave them extra duties beyond coaching. Plus Saban coaches the secondary so they save a coaching slot. Seems like that would make your defensive coaching a little disjointed but it apparently worked out just fine for them.

Steele was not the DC at Bama that's why he left for Clemson.

sims1087 writes:

bama987. You better stop blogging and get back to your meth lab before you blow up your trailer

BigDaddyVol writes:

in response to sims1087:

bama987. You better stop blogging and get back to your meth lab before you blow up your trailer

Good one ...

abnermc writes:

in response to Indianavol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Me too . From Waynesboro originally.

mhillvol#275693 writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

From what I am hearing from High School coaches and recruits around the Mobile area that were being recruited by Willis Bama may suffer alot more from this than they think.

TommyJack writes:

in response to ctownvol:

Ya think?

yeppers

polymer writes:

From the comments above, it looks like the Willis hire has sent the State of Alabama into Meltdown Mode -- power outages everywhere and ambulances running in every direction. Sounds more like an "11" on the Richter Scale. Take the man's photo off the Wall of Fame on the Auburn campus, and throw paint on his autographed picture on Toomer's Corner!

ctownvol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What did you say that was so bad 987? Posting police got ya?

bholt#207077 writes:

amen about hating Bummer--grew up and live in Pulaski so I join my friends in Lawrenceburg and Waynesboro in mutual hate for the cheating Tide.

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LOL???? And we're the girls?

Chat-room acronyms are for girls.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Saban getting staff from the Barn.

Whoda thunk it?

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks, bud. Thought that one up all by myself.

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nope, you don't get another for awhile... No offense, just rather trash a Gator at the moment.

BTW, just saw that rivals latest news has Greg Reid visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend.

Remember if I ain't pickin' on ya, I don't like ya........ chief, hahaaaaa I'm kiddin, man.

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Try this...
http://tennessee.rivals.com/content.a...
(may need the premium ticket)

If not, here's the excerpt:

"Also, Greg Reid remains a possibility to show up this weekend, but our latest information on Thursday afternoon suggests that he will visit Alabama this weekend instead. We will continue to follow that story, but for now, he's off the list...."

ctownvol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well I hope it didn't blow up. That would be a big loss of extra income. Don't worry my friend. I'll double up production in my lab to make up for your loss. Fair enough?

ctownvol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just be careful on I-20 on the west side of atlanta between downtown and the bama line. Them boys in blue don't play no games.

BigOrangeVol writes:

Cow College has plenty of problems! Maybe Willis was fed up with Jay Jacobs and the Lowder posse for how they treated Tubs and the staff. A rumor is going around that Jacobs made Willis return his buyout after Chizik hired him back.

Sample of AU fans:
"I can't even remember this kind of disloyalty. Think of all the Auburn people who went to bat for this traitor when it looked like Chizik was going to let him go. It's a gross lack of class and borders on unethical and gives me o ne more reason to hate the little moron Satan.Shame on you James. We will remember!"

"James just needs to rip up that Auburn degree, old uniform, anything to do with Auburn because I hope he is never welcomed back to Auburn ever again."

"Since Willis has become the Benedict Arnold of football I suggest that he be remembered as such and that his name and accomplishments be forever removed from Auburn records."

The Barners are P.O'd!!!

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't make me 'suggest removal' of that off-topic comment... I'll do it... I'm trigger happy. It is the first line of our disclaimer, ya know.

Don Sutton would be a great (re)addition... he actually knows a little bit about baseball.

ctownvol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Absolutely. I love me some Braves Baseball. I'm still quite upset over losing Skip Caray though. Just not the same without Skip.

SemperVol writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You got that right.. GO BRAVES!

They give me heart attacks almost as much as my Vols do, though.

Basketball_Jones writes:

My lord, you people kill me with the GatorS and AlaBUMMER...What is this 4th grade?

I personally like the people from other teams coming on here. Sometimes they offer a good insight on their teams and what rumors are flying in their neck of the woods. I do hate Memphis Tigers fans though, at least the Gator, Bammer and Dog fans are from the SEC.

utvol17 writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If a southern Bama kid would go to K town over the chickens or the ripple I'd be surprised. I know we got Tee but we historically get Northern Bammers not Southern. To me this just shows the 21st century mercenary nature of coaches. A bird to a ripple , he better sell his Bird house b4 the fans roll it

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, I know - I have a lot of Auburn friends and boy, do they hate you guys with a passion that borders on needing therapy. I was referring to the Pat Dye and Vince Dooley thing. I think Georgia and Auburn almost like each other - yuk! Anyway, I would be surprised if Saban made a bad hire because (1) he is a great coach and (2) he is at Alabama, which carries its own weight with or without him. I'd certainly take our, your, or Florida's coaching staff right now over any others anywhere. I'm not sure what happened on the plains but I'm not hopeful for their future - moment of silence while you regain your composure LOL.

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My bad. I knew that as soon as I posted it but only you would call me on it. Good call.

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