John Adams: Derrick Ansley gives Vols another Tide insider

John Adams

While interviewing Derrick Ansley last week, I noticed that Tennessee's new cornerbacks coach kept glancing to his right as though he were concerned that still more media-types were headed his way.

I could sympathize. UT assistant coaches are allowed to interview just often enough that the local media can recognize them as readily as a Neyland Stadium usher. Once available, the coaches must feel like hostages to a media contingent that's reluctant to let go.

Ansley has more reason to be antsy about losing any waking moments to the media. He spent two years working for Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose idea of media access makes UT's look like open range.

No one should quibble over Ansley's employment as a graduate assistant with an archrival — not after all the other Tide-to-Tennessee movement. He's merely the most recent example of the Sabanization of Tennessee football.

First came head coach Derek Dooley, who was an assistant under Saban at both LSU and the Miami Dolphins. Then, defensive coach Lance Thompson dropped by for a few years before returning to Alabama. Out went Thompson, in came another Saban assistant, Sal Sunseri, now serving as UT's defensive coordinator.

Any UT fan bothered by the growing Saban/Alabama influence should consider the alternatives. Would you rather UT manned its coaching staff with Woody Widenhofer disciples? Alabama has won two national championships in the last three seasons under Saban. If you can't afford Saban, why not buy into the Saban connection?

UT is all in, as evidenced by the number of former Alabama coaches and administrators who

have signed on with the Vols in the last few years. My advice to anyone seeking employment at UT: Show up for your job interview in a crimson-colored baseball cap with a scripted white "A," and list Nick Saban as a reference.

Some UT fans might be more concerned about Ansley's lack of experience with FBS programs — two years as a graduate assistant at Alabama and a few months at Central Florida — than they are his Alabama background. If so, they might find the details reassuring, the most significant of which is that he worked directly under Saban, whose area of expertise is the secondary.

"He's been coaching DBs for 37 or 38 years," Ansley said. "So in the time I spent with him, I said 'I got past a lot of coaches.' He's really, really good at what he does. I was very blessed to go down there and work with him."

And he was determined to make the most of it.

"The first couple of months, I tried to kind of shadow him," Ansley said. "I learned how he wanted things. I just tried to get two steps ahead of him and anticipate what he wanted. When you stay even with a coach like that, you're getting behind."

The rest of the SEC — UT especially — knows all about being behind Saban, Since he moved to Tuscaloosa, the Vols have lost five consecutive games to the Tide, by an average of 21.6 points.

Ansley has firsthand knowledge of the challenge. The strength of Alabama's 2011 national championship team was its secondary. In the midst of UT's spring practice, Ansley doesn't feel as though he has been jettisoned to a different football galaxy.

"I don't think there's a big drop-off," he said when asked to compare the secondary he left behind to the one he now helps coach. "The thing Alabama had last year was experience. That's one thing we've got this year. Now, it's time for these guys to take it to the next level."

Anyone who has coached under Saban at least knows where the next level is.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 29

FWBVol writes:

John, get your facts right. Lance Thompson was already in house when Derek Dooley was hired. Kiffin hired Thompson from Alabama.

Thompson and Jim Chaney were the two guys from Kiffin's staff that stayed at Tennessee.

TheVolMan writes:

in response to FWBVol:

John, get your facts right. Lance Thompson was already in house when Derek Dooley was hired. Kiffin hired Thompson from Alabama.

Thompson and Jim Chaney were the two guys from Kiffin's staff that stayed at Tennessee.

You are certainly the Master of the Obvious but think you are barking up the wrong tree regarding Adams' point. You just don't like him. No problem, many other ignorant people feel the same as you. Enjoy.

nocleats writes:

The best way to be a great position coach is to have GREAT players. Be a recruiter Derrick. Stay 2 steps ahead of everyone.

JayTee writes:

Jimmy Johnson was an assitant under Johnny Majors. Adams should write a column about how the Majors connection help Miami and Dallas win championships.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

Geez, in this guys eyes you either coached under Saban sometime, somewhere and are part of the horrible Bama conspiracy, or you didn't and are probably a bad hire.
Sorry, I won't complain about it anymore, it is my own fault. Everyone else has been writing about spring practice and the future, But I (under my own power)clicked on another one of these "woe be unto us" stories.

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to orangesheep:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea, Neyland is rolling in his grave.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to aspenvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The first five words of your statement were all that was necessary

Bigger_Al writes:

in response to FWBVol:

John, get your facts right. Lance Thompson was already in house when Derek Dooley was hired. Kiffin hired Thompson from Alabama.

Thompson and Jim Chaney were the two guys from Kiffin's staff that stayed at Tennessee.

Hey, Adams won't let the facts get in the way of his whining about media access or his digs at UT and their fans. Just shows what a hack he really is.

rtrchatt writes:

Nick Saban the best secondary coach in America at any level. Looking forward to 6 in a row this Oct. RT

gc_scvol writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Nick Saban the best secondary coach in America at any level. Looking forward to 6 in a row this Oct. RT

GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL.

frblalack writes:

This really is one of Mr. Adam's better articles! Though he was wrong regarding Lance Thompson, he hit the nail on the head regarding our relationship with Alabama. UT football, as I hope everyone knows, has always been and I hope will always be part of a great rivalry with Alabama. Truth is it has been widely known for years that Bear Bryant learned a great deal from General Robert Neyland, the single greatest football coach in history. It is no slight to the Big Orange to have staff members from previous National Champions. Coach Hart & Coach Dooley should be complimented for their recognition and acquisition of such talent! Barring unforseen injuries and with our good recruiting, we will be competing at the highest levels very soon...if not this year!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life! BELIEVE!

gc_scvol writes:

in response to frblalack:

This really is one of Mr. Adam's better articles! Though he was wrong regarding Lance Thompson, he hit the nail on the head regarding our relationship with Alabama. UT football, as I hope everyone knows, has always been and I hope will always be part of a great rivalry with Alabama. Truth is it has been widely known for years that Bear Bryant learned a great deal from General Robert Neyland, the single greatest football coach in history. It is no slight to the Big Orange to have staff members from previous National Champions. Coach Hart & Coach Dooley should be complimented for their recognition and acquisition of such talent! Barring unforseen injuries and with our good recruiting, we will be competing at the highest levels very soon...if not this year!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life! BELIEVE!

Well Stated.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to orangesheep:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not quite! You could switch the coaching staffs with Tennessee and Alabama, and Saban's staff would beat Dooley's staff.

CrankE writes:

Remember "Fulmer Bingo" and fulmerbingo.com?

How hard would it be to create an Adams Bingo site?

Suggested words:
Alabama
Saban
Tebow
Florida
Spurrier
LSU
hobnailed
Geno
Vandy
Kentucky
Pearl
Majors
backstab
bitter

Maybe include Tennessee and Volunteers as the "gimme" points on the board.

I don't have the web savvy, or I'd do this myself.

richvol writes:

Adams...you are truly sad.

givehim6 writes:

I dislike being N. Bama as much as any orange blooded UT fan, but the thing I hate more is the sad shape UT's program fallen into.

SevenT writes:

"Double D is the best Coach in the college football world, nobody can out coach my little boy."

Derrick Dooley's Mother

RockVegas writes:

As long as we win,they can hire the staff from BAMA,for all I care.I don't like Alabama but they have been kicking butt and taking names.Two NATIONAL TITLES in three years.We won a title in 1998 and got relaxed.Like the old saying goes,IF YOU CAN'T BEAT'EM....JOIN'EM.....ROLL BIG ORANGE.

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Enough of this BS. When Kiff was here all you heard was So Cal East, USC this, USC that. Now we have Doodle & it's Bama North, Saban this, Saban that. Good Grief! May not be as good as usual but this is The Tennessee Vols! I don't remember being Fla. Jr. when Dickey was here. The whole mess down there makes me want to puke. Just go out & beat somebody in the SEC this year.

Recfour writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am not a "Doolaid Drinker" but i dont think CDD has done a horrible job. The talent has improved and he has put Tennesse in a good position to make a run this year. IF Tennesse loses to both N.C. State and Florida his seat will be hot BUT i dont see that happening. NC State is an inferior team when compared to Tennessee and i really like our chances with the gators at Neyland. The chances of us dropping both those games are slim. Although Vol fans have endured two rough, disappointing seasons under Dooley, i doubt the great Nick Saban could have coached those teams to a much better record. MAYBE a few more wins. Vol fans should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and have alot to be optimistc about the 2012 season. One can not yet say that CDD has made this program worse since he arrived. GBO VFL

jbw2 writes:

Still looking for worthwhile information from the interview...

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Question. Someone answer if possible. What is the problem with this whiny/crybaby Sammy Burklow? Most of us would pay very good money to see this coward step up to the plate and address his crybaby feelings to Dooley.......
in person.
We think not. Just another habitual griper.

VolMoment writes:

Coach Dooley learned more from his Dad than the few years with Saban. Our defensive coor. learned under John Fox and was an asst. for a couple of yearswith Saban. Everybody but John Adams are their own person when the move up or change. Please KNS give us some brain power on the staff. His Napolean attitude is getting old. His tiny physical statue is the reason for his narcissism.

AllVol1 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well stated my friend. Where you're from is not nearly as important as where you are and where you are going. What I know is that these coaches and these players are at Tennessee. What I think is that Coach Dooley, coming to a program in shambles, has created a staff and a roster that could be very exciting this next season. It is possible that this team and these coaches, at Tennessee right now, could be going to Atlanta for the SEC championship. AND I acknowledge that it is possible that the doubters are right about Dooley. This is the year. No more excuses about talent, depth, or experience. This team has them all. A good coach and staff can lead this team to at least 8, but possibly a 9 or 10 win season.

I hope Dooley and his staff are the ones to get that done. If they do, who gives a rat's arse where they are from, where they played, or where else they coached?!

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

#1 The name thing makes responding to you odd.
#2 The same people that gripe about coaches from other SEC locations, are the same people that say we need to recruit heavier in the identical locations. In other words, they are going to b**ch either way.

Vol43 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

Question. Someone answer if possible. What is the problem with this whiny/crybaby Sammy Burklow? Most of us would pay very good money to see this coward step up to the plate and address his crybaby feelings to Dooley.......
in person.
We think not. Just another habitual griper.

OC, according to orangesquarepants, this is none other than Jeff Flowers. That's right 'Flowers' as in Richmond Flowers,the great UT football player. Jeff's life apparently didn't turn out the way he hoped. He's full of self pity and it comes across well. Other than that, he's, well, Jeff and not to be taken seriously. He's more like a troll. Anyway, that's what I understand.

Vol_in_Mich writes:

in response to Vol43:

OC, according to orangesquarepants, this is none other than Jeff Flowers. That's right 'Flowers' as in Richmond Flowers,the great UT football player. Jeff's life apparently didn't turn out the way he hoped. He's full of self pity and it comes across well. Other than that, he's, well, Jeff and not to be taken seriously. He's more like a troll. Anyway, that's what I understand.

Do you really think any member of the Flowers family would waste time on a podunk blog like this? Even Jeff? That family is rich with a capatial RICH! He would be showing his butt on the pay site at least, or in the Islands not ever thinking about this sh1t.

Vol43 writes:

in response to Vol_in_Mich:

Do you really think any member of the Flowers family would waste time on a podunk blog like this? Even Jeff? That family is rich with a capatial RICH! He would be showing his butt on the pay site at least, or in the Islands not ever thinking about this sh1t.

I dunno. Maybe yes, maybe no. All I know is stay tuned. It's a drama. Mich, you've been on here for awhile so you should know all about this. Ya think?

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to SevenT:

"Double D is the best Coach in the college football world, nobody can out coach my little boy."

Derrick Dooley's Mother

Are you mad that neither of your parents would support you as a child when you tried to do something that affects a massive amount of people? Oh,you never attempted anything in your life that was important to anybody other than yourself. Leave Dooley's name out your mouth,Lord knows he has enough pressure from haters! Just wondering what team you do support cause I am sure they have an outstanding staff. Dooley will win at least 8 games with our 2012 Vols and you will wish that your program would have made such a great hire.VFL

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