Former Vols defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri hired by Florida State, but will still draw check from UT

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel
Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri looks on from the sideline at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 27.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Adam Brimer/News Sentinel Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri looks on from the sideline at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 27.

Former Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri has been officially confirmed as a new assistant coach at Florida State.

Sunseri will likely coach the defensive line under new FSU coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt and Sunseri worked together at Alabama before Sunseri joined Derek Dooley's staff at Knoxville after the 2011 season.

FSU said Sunseri would make $198,000 annually, far less than the $800,000 he was slated to make as Tennessee's coordinator.

When he was formally dismissed by new UT coach Butch Jones earlier this month, Sunseri was owed $1.84 million through February 2015.

His contract includes a clause requiring him to make a good-faith effort to find new employment to defray Tennessee's costs.

But even with the new $198,000 salary, which does not include potential bonuses or other outside income, Sunseri will still be getting a check from UT for roughly $50,000 every month.

Sunseri is the fifth member of Dooley's staff to be hired for another position. Running backs coach Jay Graham was retained by Jones. Receivers coach Darin Hinshaw was hired by new Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, who replaced Jones.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman were both hired at Arkansas.

Tight ends coach and special teams coach Charlie Coiner, defensive line coach John Palermo, safeties coach Josh Conklin and cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley have not yet been hired by other schools.

By far the biggest expense is Dooley himself, who is due monthly payments totaling $5 million through 2016.

Chaney's contract was guaranteed, meaning he will continue to make $600,000 from Tennessee while making $550,000 from his new job.

Tennessee's payments to Dooley and his former staff could still be as high as $8.3 million, although that figure will go down as former assistants are hired.

UT has not yet released salary figures for Jones' new coaching staff, although he was given a pool of $3 million to spend, which is roughly the same amount paid to Dooley's staff in 2012.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 107

Vols4Ever writes:

Dave Hart strikes again!

VOLtage writes:

What a waste of money.

oldster writes:

Sal Sunseri is a wonderful example of the Peter Principle. He rose to a position of incompetence.

BolivrBob writes:

Cheek and Hart need to be fired. We need somebody on the Hill with some kind of business sense. This is BULLOCHI!

keepitreal4vols writes:

If my math is correct, Sunseri will be making roughly $1 for every yard his defense gave up in 2012.

lafollette37766 writes:

Must be nice to be able to draw 2 checks from 2 different employers while only working one job.

claiborneh writes:

Doubling down. None of these men are worth their skill set or knowledge. It's football not quantum physics.

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Sad, absolutely freaking SAD!!! Sunseri is making more from UT than he is from his new employer. After last seasons defensive debacle he couldn't get a job as a coordinator at the high school level. WHAT A TOTAL WASTE!!!

1pavolfan writes:

didn't the previous admin. hire that staff ie.- (contracts) ???

cdldoc#211897 writes:

Who was complaining about Fulmer's buyout. We got every dollar out of him that was paid. Compared to Sunny boy and Doodley, what a great deal we had.

huntined#565710 writes:

Easy to see ALL the def.coaches were OVERPAID. TENN. should have had the best def. in the country if you go by salary!!! Guess most of the ASST. coaches are getting the agents the head coaches use so they sure are getting them great deals and TENN. seems to be easy picking for them.

MikeTheManHamiltan writes:

in response to Tallguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Might as well take out the seats, I haven't been able to sell these tickets for squat! BTW - you can still use the Hardees coupon on the back even if you don't go to the game.

And although some of you Vol fans dislike me, I have 1.2 million reasons to thank you. So thanks again.

BolivrBob writes:

Sal had never bern a coordinator at a major school and we psid him 800,000? What about this do I not understand?

Sir_Spanky writes:

Arkansas ending up with Chaney and Pittman is the story here.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Dave Hart should be fired over this....period.

For someone in his position to extend a contract like that to an UNPROVEN DC at a time when the head coach is on the hot seat is just flat out inexcusable.

On the other hand, Sunseri should think about giving back some of that money that was certainly not earned or deserved through the scope of his work. I know that won't happen but what he did with the UT defense borders on the criminal.

Sunseri got canned as deserved, now Hart needs to be dealt the same fate.

rocky_topper writes:

Cheek, Hart, Hamilton.....Is there really a difference?

txvolsfan writes:

He should be paying us 50K a month for having to watch that pitiful D last year!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

What ever he was paid to leave, it was worth it.

Slow DB's and all.

Death of a 1000 cuts this season.

standfast#211788 writes:

Never in the annals of human endeavor has one man made so much for accomplishing so little. It's worth it, though, just to have him gone.

underthehill writes:

in response to Tallguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think this was Dave Hart's doing..and I think he laid it on Dooley..Dave Hart is a far worse disaster than Hamilton.. if the Sunseri thing don't wake up the Vol nation as to the harm this guy has done..nothing will...

underthehill writes:

in response to BolivrBob:

Sal had never bern a coordinator at a major school and we psid him 800,000? What about this do I not understand?

Do you understand they both came from bama and this looks to me like a buddy buddy deal with no concern for the best interest of UT..do you see it any different..

rtrchatt writes:

Good for you Coach Sal. Call it emotional distress for wearing that puke orange one yr.
Bama nation knows you can coach, but u cannot coach slow, slower and slowest. Roll Tide

jumby92 writes:

I would like to know who's hire Sunseri was. Did Dave Hart get him or did Dooley? That Bama connection leads me to Hart and the fact that another former Bama guy at FSU hired him kind of hints to that. The painful truth to the 2012 season is that if Lance Thompson had been promoted up to DC, Tennessee would very likely have finished 7-5 or maybe even 8-4 and the Dooley haters would have been a little less noisy because it would have seemed as if we were moving forward. I am just glad we didn't hire Coach Kardashian, he would have been nothing more than a distraction and another expensive buy-out.

punkin writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Good for you Coach Sal. Call it emotional distress for wearing that puke orange one yr.
Bama nation knows you can coach, but u cannot coach slow, slower and slowest. Roll Tide

Why is it everyone out of bama (Hart,Sal) is a failure?

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Good for you Coach Sal. Call it emotional distress for wearing that puke orange one yr.
Bama nation knows you can coach, but u cannot coach slow, slower and slowest. Roll Tide

Wilcox could. Be sure and get your mullet shaped up for the Holidays. And don't forget Waffle House Christmas Day steak dinner specials.

volaholic45 writes:

So, I guess we've proven that paying a coach top dollar doesn't make him a top coach, and building the biggest stadium doesn't build the best program. Something else must be the success factor. Good thing the biggest university in the state is where all the top intellects can be found, unless . . .

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to cdldoc#211897:

Who was complaining about Fulmer's buyout. We got every dollar out of him that was paid. Compared to Sunny boy and Doodley, what a great deal we had.

Please.

The man mailed it in for 10 years after winning a national title and THEN collected another 6 million as a going away present from Hamilton.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to punkin:

Why is it everyone out of bama (Hart,Sal) is a failure?

Because AL was willing to spend big where it counted, the head coach.

docwater#225789 writes:

Huh. UT Officials must have handled the transactions for the Native American sale of Manhatten. Nice article, coincidental with UT asking for more donations. I shall have to consider how they use my donations when selecting an amount to send in.

JonGrudensAgent writes:

in response to BolivrBob:

Sal had never bern a coordinator at a major school and we psid him 800,000? What about this do I not understand?

Dave Hart's logic is the vexing factor here.

Unfortunately, he trumped the Sunseri hire incompetence with the bungled coaching search.

All we can do is hope he got lucky with Jones at this point. Early signs point to a drastic improvement over Dooley at least.

atnvol#283282 writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

Dave Hart strikes again!

Dave Hart is not the culprit....it is Mike Hamilton and his ridiculous contractual agreement with Dooley that is costing the Vols dearly.

Prostar writes:

So now Sunseri is at Fla. State with Pruitt and they know each other from their days at Alabama. I guess we know what to expect from the Seminoles defense.

protegewill writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Stealing?? That's a bit much...How is he stealing if both parties agreed to the terms of the deal? He would still be here if Dooley could coach a team past .500; UT was the one that reniged on that atrocious contract. The administration is to blame (because they can not determine the value of a coach.)not the coach who was given the oppostunity of a lifetime. In three years we will be in the same position with CBJ. UT will not great again until they fix that (bad) karma from the way they totally disrespected Coach Fulmer (I mean the most winningest coach in the History of the School treated that way; I mean where is the loyalty....My suggestion is this...Hire Fulmer as AD)...You can be sure that he will have the University's best interest at a higher regard that 2 previous little league Athletic Directors.

rkastens writes:

We're still paying for him in more ways than just $!

underthehill writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

Dave Hart is not the culprit....it is Mike Hamilton and his ridiculous contractual agreement with Dooley that is costing the Vols dearly.

Hamilton had nothing to do with hiring Sunseri and I think the evidence clearly shows Hart forced Sunseri on Dooley which certainly played a huge part in the total failure of UT's defense..seeems to me if Hart intended to help Dooley..he would have kept Thompson..instead Thompson when back to bama..I didn't notice Saban bringing Sunseri back..that says to me Saban got what he wanted ..Thompson back and rid of Sunseri..

govolsn3 writes:

This buy-out is pennies compared to the next one. I still can't figure the 6 year 18 million. Like I said before, why not 3 year 18 million, that is 6 million a year. The private jets would have been waiting hours to get landed at the airport. All big name coaches would have been begging for a interview. Oh well guess we will have to dream of a great hire and hope for the best. Go Big Orange and the best coaching staff in the country.

GerryOP writes:

Move along folks, there's nothing to see here. Leave the past behind and look to the future. What's done is done.

PureOrange writes:

Sounds as if there is plenty of blame to go around, but the real villain looks to be the lawyer who advise on these contracts. I think we need one who looks out for UT instead of himself. Oh, my bad. Forgot I was talking about lawyers!

Maybe just try to find someone with some common sense. Of course, that may be as hard as finding an honest, competent lawyer.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

If my math is correct, Sunseri will be making roughly $1 for every yard his defense gave up in 2012.

He should be paying UT $1 for every yard his defense gave up in 2012.

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

in response to standfast#211788:

Never in the annals of human endeavor has one man made so much for accomplishing so little. It's worth it, though, just to have him gone.

I wouldnt go that far. Look at the money the CEOs of major banks have made in the last two decades and you will find the Sal Sunseri debacle to barely be egregious. At least he was only a one-year debacle and our bill is under a million dollars...the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS the bank CEOs make at our expense is the real story.

jakethevolguy writes:

The way his defense screwed UT, he should be paying them for the sex!!

GOJO writes:

in response to rtrchatt:

Good for you Coach Sal. Call it emotional distress for wearing that puke orange one yr.
Bama nation knows you can coach, but u cannot coach slow, slower and slowest. Roll Tide

*****************

'Round the bowl,
Down the hole,
Where the Tide rolls for rest & relaxation?

smokysbark writes:

in response to JonGrudensAgent:

Because AL was willing to spend big where it counted, the head coach.

And said 'head coach' was also the LB's coach, DB's coach, D line coach, et al. Those under him were there to take direction and implement his coaching philosophy. That is the exact reason that they fail when they are left to do it on their own.

budd#207344 writes:

Woodbery, now that all these coaches are hired and their salaries public records, can't you take the time to figure out what UT will actually end up paying? Its called reporting.

KevDVol writes:

I only wish were paying him to sabbotage an SEC defense. I look forward to seeing Florida State DB's chasing ball carriers like children chasing a speeding icecream van.

TNVol71 writes:

Why do these contracts not include performance clauses? Is the only way to reduce a coach's salary to fire them--and then you still have to pay? This doesn't make good sense in real world economics. We have bonus clauses, how about clauses where the contracts are reduced for non-performance?

gohawks1 writes:

MONTHLY payments totaling $5 million through 2016? Naw, that ain't right. Try again.

Vol86 writes:

If I was paying taxess in Tn. I would be pissed

6972 writes:

If his defense doesn't perform any better down in Seminole land, I'd watch out for that mascot spear. I think Smokey might have liked to take a plug out of his leg before he left here.

VolzsFan writes:

Sal was a great hire. I mean DD wanted to get more pressure and turnovers and all. He did a great job.

LOL!!!

Regards,
Justin Wilcox

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