UT now down 3 coaches with departure of Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon

His third year at Tennessee wasn’t supposed to be a rebuilding year, but Derek Dooley will head into his most important season with replacements for nearly half of the members of his 2011 coaching staff.

Two offseason departures turned into four Monday, as defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon both left the Vols for the same positions at the University of Washington.

Dooley will address the moves and other offseason developments today in his first meeting with reporters since the Vols’ season-ending loss at Kentucky in November. He has plenty to discuss.

Since the Vols fell to 5-7 and assured a second consecutive losing season for the first time in nearly a century, Dooley has parted ways with wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett, seen tight ends/special teams coach Eric Russell leave for Washington State and now has two vacancies on defense with Wilcox’s and Sirmon’s departures. Also up in the air is the status of wide receivers Da’Rick Rogers, whom multiple outlets reported to be suspended last month, and DeAnthony Arnett, who has asked for a release from his scholarship but is upset because UT won’t sign off on a transfer to Michigan State or Michigan.

Dooley has already filled one of the coaching vacancies, hiring former Vol Jay Graham to coach running backs, but still has three openings with less than a month until National Signing Day. Sirmon and Wilcox were both heavily involved in UT’s recruiting efforts, and at least two UT commitments have de-committed. Wide receiver commit Keithon Redding (Decatur, Ga.) told govols247.com that he was no longer considering the Vols, and linebacker Khalid Henderson (Mableton, Ga.) announced his decision Sunday night through a post on his Twitter account.

“Im decomitting from Tennessee. ....” he wrote.

“So many recruits lost today,” Rogers wrote on his Twitter account Monday evening. “Wish I could tell you otherwise fellas .. but that’s whats goin on here...”

Both Wilcox, 35, and Sirmon, 34, are natives of the Pacific Northwest, with Sirmon hailing from Wenatchee, Wash., and Wilcox growing up in Eugene, Ore.

Wilcox played at Oregon from 1995-99, began his coaching career at Boise State and served two stints there, splitting up his time as a graduate assistant (2001-02) and defensive coordinator (2006-09) with three seasons as a linebackers coach at California.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Wilcox said in a statement released by the Huskies. “Washington is a place where you can win big, and I’m excited to work with Coach Sarkisian in developing a championship-caliber football program. Our first order of business is hitting the recruiting trail, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Sirmon was a teammate and roommate of Wilcox’s at Oregon before embarking on a seven-year career with the Tennessee Titans. He began his coaching career at Central Washington in 2008, returned to Oregon as a graduate assistant in 2009 and occupied the same position at UT in 2010 before he was promoted to linebackers coach in 2011. Unlike Russell, who worked alongside new Washington State coach Mike Leach in the past, neither Sirmon nor Wilcox has worked on the same staff as Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, who fired his entire defensive coaching staff after a 67-56 loss to Baylor in last week’s Alamo Bowl.

Per his contract, which was finalized just last month, Sirmon — or the Huskies — will owe UT $75,000.

Wilcox owes the Vols nothing after renegotiating his contract this past summer, eliminating a buyout clause that had him owing the school $300,000 if he left for anything less than a Division I head coaching position. Wilcox, whose name was recently linked to a number of head coaching vacancies, had plenty of bargaining power after he turned down an opportunity at Texas to remain with the Vols last season.

Wilcox was set to make $750,000 in 2012 and Sirmon, after making $150,000 in 2011, was to receive a raise to $175,000. Terms of their agreements at Washington are unknown.

Despite a lack of proven talent and periodic breakdowns throughout the year, the Vols finished the 2011 season ranked 28th in the nation in total defense. One year after allowing nearly 382 yards per game, a figure that ranked 70th in the country, UT surrendered 340 yards per game this season.

Though it allowed more than 35 points in three of its losses, UT posted a shutout against Middle Tennessee State and surrendered an average of 11.3 points in losses to Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

Thanks to a dearth of effective quarterbacks in the SEC, UT finished 12th in the nation (sixth in the SEC) with an average of 177.83 passing yards allowed per game. The 2010 Vols, who had Janzen Jackson at safety and Prentiss Waggner playing at cornerback, allowed more than 229 passing yards per game, which ranked 82nd in the country.

Sirmon inherited a linebacking corps that was without its top returning tackler (Herman Lathers) and littered with players who had little to no experience. The emergence of freshmen A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt and strong play from senior middle linebacker Austin Johnson, though, made it one of the most reliable units on the entire defense.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Geraldo Orta and former linebacker Daryl Vereen, who just finished his UT career, took to Twitter on Monday to air their grievances about the latest staff change.

“Ain’t nun gone get done at Tennessee if we keep changing coaches...” Orta wrote.

“Tennessee should have never fired Coach (Phillip) Fulmer. Tennesse (sic) will be just a rest stop for coaches,” Vereen wrote. “Don’t get me wrong I will always be a #VFL, just upset for my lil brothas, its not fun going thru all these different coaches.”

Offensive tackle JaWuan James, meanwhile, remained upbeat.

“As players we need to just keep believing in the system and play for each other,” he wrote. “It’s a new year so it’s a new start. Well be alright.”

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 195

Raleigh writes:

Is this Dooley's idea of "rebuilding"? What, exactly, are we rebuilding? Another losing team?

AllVol311 writes:

Ive heard rumors of Randy Shannon coming to be the new defensive coordinator

WhiteHotBleedOrange writes:

As I watch the bowl games tonight I am sickened that we can't even qualify, much less compete, for a big bowl. How the mighty have fallen.

wigmeister writes:

Steve Spagnuolo was let go by the rams. Defensive genius. Sign him up! Oh I forgot, he needs good defensive players. Get out there and recruit a strong defensive presence.

armyvol22 writes:

What about Dale Jones which is the Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers for Appalachian State?

voloffaith writes:

Dorothy is asking if anyone has seen Toto? Oh that's right...that was just a bad dream after bump on head. This is no fun,but Coach Dooley had to put together a staff somewhat quickly when he came so maybe twice we get some quality staff in at last heartbeat. I'm not counting on it ,but it sure beats the daylights out of joining the 'Chicken Little' crowd that thinks the Earth just ended.....Da Sky Be Falling....Glass appears to be half full or is it hale empty. Perspective goes along way y'all....

utjunkie writes:

Its getting to the point as to where I'm affraid to look on this site anymore. Seems like its bad news on top of bad news and I thought watching world news was depressing.

DroopyDrawers writes:

Dale Jones---Yes Yes

jobrando#216494 writes:

Shannon sightings at Bball game so I would guess he and Barrow will be coming. 5 yr deal at 1mil

Bilgeboard writes:

Did anyone think these coaches thought the SEC was too tough, and the pickings were easier out west. However it does not look good. I thought Wilcox would be good because of where he came from

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

Thank God we didn't get rid of Dooley after the UK game. It would have created SO MUCH instability.

My top-3 lame excuses for why this doesn't hurt UT and/or signal the end of Dooley.

1) Wilcox wasn't that good of a coach anyway. We had the 28th ranked Defense in the nation which was an improvement over 2010 and Wilcox did it with mostly underclassmen. But in all honesty...that guy sucked!

2) Wilcox and Sirmon leaving for a Pac-12 school is a clear indication that this staff is turning things around. You know, because great programs should expect to have their Defensive Coordinator take a promotion and become the Head Coach of a rebuilding Pac-12 school....what? He's not the HC at Washington? He took the same job at WU? Oh...well, um....DOOLEY'S WINNING THE RIGHT WAY!!!

3) It will take Dooley a minimum of 4/5/6 years to rebuild because that's how long it took Johnny Majors and if freaking Johnny Majors did it, then that's the standard...FOREVER!

Raleigh writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

corn5030#213604 writes:

What about Ted Heacock DC not being retained by Urban?

finn writes:

If the net of this is Randy Shannon as DC, you can't be too upset. He's a solid D coach, great recruiter, and widely considered to be an upstanding guy all round. Sorry to lose Wilcox but the amount of damage is a function of how quickly he's replaced and by who.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Dorothy is asking if anyone has seen Toto? Oh that's right...that was just a bad dream after bump on head. This is no fun,but Coach Dooley had to put together a staff somewhat quickly when he came so maybe twice we get some quality staff in at last heartbeat. I'm not counting on it ,but it sure beats the daylights out of joining the 'Chicken Little' crowd that thinks the Earth just ended.....Da Sky Be Falling....Glass appears to be half full or is it hale empty. Perspective goes along way y'all....

hahahaha...little chunks of the sky have been tapping you on the head for a while now and you continue to insist that everything is just fine and dandy in Dooleyland. DE-LU-SION-AL!!

The only reason your glass is half full is because its filled with 1/4 Doolaide.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Really hate to see Wilcox and Sermon go. However, if the Shannon rumors are true, we just upgraded at the DC position! Dude was a decent HC but got that job because he was a FANTASTIC DC! He's from Miami which would open up some solid pipelines in Florida. Man i hope this is true.

FWBVol writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have said many times in the last two years plus that we should have never fired Fulmer in 2009, but Derek Dooley isn't going anywhere at this time. If things don't go well next season there's a good chance he will be gone, but there is still a matter of a hefty buyout.

I don't think any fan is happy with the recent developments, but I'm watching the Fiesta Bowl right now and they point out that Mike Gundy was 18-19 after his first three years and he turned Oklahoma State around OK.

Firing CDD at this point would only make things worse, and anyone that thinks otherwise isn't looking at the big picture.

MikeInTN writes:

All this speculation re: who the next DC will be is hearsay...the TRUTH is that Howie Long will be announced as Wilcox's replacement, and Ray Lewis is retiring to become our LB coach...news conference will be the morning...BOOK IT!!!!!!

boston5761#559459 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Really hate to see Wilcox and Sermon go. However, if the Shannon rumors are true, we just upgraded at the DC position! Dude was a decent HC but got that job because he was a FANTASTIC DC! He's from Miami which would open up some solid pipelines in Florida. Man i hope this is true.

There's a reason he (shannon) has been turned down by several top schools.

TheStupidPolice writes:

TODAY'S BLOTTER

armyvol22 and RALIEGH

cloudodust writes:

It's gonna be okay. Just like Kiffin, these guys got an offer they couldn't pass up and I for one don't hold that against the guys. Hate to see them leave in midstream but CDD/Hart have an oportunity to bring in some fresh talent. The thing will be to see if there are any ace takers. Now that Hammy's gone, maybe...Gotta wonder, how come Chaney isn't being recruited.

LJS1984 writes:

RAHEEM MORRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rootin4volz writes:

Randy Shannon new DC.

lomas98 writes:

Based on past coaching searches, I won't believe the whole Shannon rumor until he is under contract. Although some wished for the Graham hiring, it really never had any legs as a rumor. Then all of a sudden he is hired and under contract. It seems the biggest rumors with sources being claimed never seem to be true.

cloudodust writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fulmer is gone and so is Hamilton. If there is justice, well, there is justice. let us look to tomorrow instead of wallowing in the trough...

dvhill100 writes:

Coaches come and go. Part of the business. No concern unless it really bites us on recruiting. CDD bought in Wilcox and Sirmon. He will hire well again I think. In his best interest to do so. New coaches may retrieve the lost recruits. Stay tuned.

eduardo writes:

YOU IDIOTS RANDY SHANNON WAS JUST HIRED BY ARKANSAS AS DC ON DEC 7TH. GET REAL....DO THE INEVITABLE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Let's get an upgrade at both coaching positions! This may very well turn into a positive thing! Maybe we'll hear at least one name tomorrow.

Go Big Orange!

clvolfan writes:

in response to AllVol311:

Ive heard rumors of Randy Shannon coming to be the new defensive coordinator

Bring him in,get some stability going,if changes made in 2013,would be a possibility for head job.

beartn#223846 writes:

I want start wrining my hands unless we can't get quality coaches hired. As for Dale Jones, I think Appy State to Tennessee is too big of a jump, though I can honestly say I have no idea how Appy State's defense has performed. The other concern is Dale being a hero to the Vol faithful probably means nothing to out of state recruits.

etu_vol_fan writes:

Let's just not even play next year then. I'm shocked and saddened that so many people are jumping off the ship here. You either support the Vols or you don't. I don't like defections but it's part of life. Get over it. Next year will tell the tale if Dooley is going to survive or not. I hope he wins 10 games next year to shut everybody up.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Nobody else has said it so I will: I hope that Randy Shannon isn't the new D.C. Anyone see the trouble that Miami (aka "The U") is in right now? All of that happened under Shannon's watch. In addition, he was also implicated in some of Miami's NCAA troubles in the mid-90's as an assistant coach.

Stay from him, Coach Dooley.

frblalack writes:

Vol Nation,

This news shouldn't come as any great surprise. Both Wilcox and Sirmon are from the left coast, and it seems that JW has been trying to leave UT for quite some time. I bet he never realized how tough the SEC would be. I love what Coach said about it last year, "I'm not going to beg someone to stay". UT is much better off getting coaches who understand and like the culture of East Tennessee and the SEC. I would like to see Coach Lance Thompson promoted to DC, and bring in Al Wilson to coach the linebackers.

Vols will be okay, regardless. Rest assured whomever is brought to the staff, our current AD has the wisdom to make certain our new coaches won't have the gravy/buyout clause of Wilcox.

Both Wilcox and Sirmon, West Coasters who will have less pressure & less competition where they're headed, remind me some of another new Pac 12 coach. Initials LK.

The sky isn't falling Vol fans; OPPORTUNITY to improve our Coaching Staff is NOW! Support Coach Dooley & our team, administration, and University!!!

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

clvolfan writes:

in response to armyvol22:

What about Dale Jones which is the Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers for Appalachian State?

One requirement,no former VOLs who could be a possible replacement for those higher up.

volmania_82 writes:

in response to eduardo:

YOU IDIOTS RANDY SHANNON WAS JUST HIRED BY ARKANSAS AS DC ON DEC 7TH. GET REAL....DO THE INEVITABLE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here read this wise guy....

http://www.swtimes.com/week-in-review...

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to Bodeanvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know about that. Here, I'll one up Derek Dooley...I'll be just as horrible a head coach for half his salary and I'll take half his buyout.

That right there is a deal ladies and gentlemen. Just as many losses, internal strife, embarrassing PR gaffes, and micromanaging ridiculousness for half the price!! I'll even hire my friends for one year contracts to fill in all the assistant coaching gaps. We'll recruit nothing but "quality diamond-in-the-rough" no star players in order to "win the right way." Heck, I can probably work it out so that my staff works for so much less, UT can pay off all the other coaches it has bought out and then hire a real coach at the end of 2012.

Oh and I will do you guys one more solid. I promise that I will win just as many bowl games as Derek Dooley or else I will forfeit my salary.

THAT is a deal!

forcesoccer writes:

History tells us..
the next coaches hired will leave after a little bit because UT is not a final destination for coaches unless you are from this state.
UT is not relevant, and has not been since 1998.

born2ride writes:

Half his staff left because they know Dooley will not be coaching here much longer.

AWOLVol writes:

Uh...no. Randy Shannon was not hired at Arkansas. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/97...

orange_eVOLution writes:

Vereen can go pack sand. So can Da’Rick Rogers with his Twitter account. Some of these dudes need to shut it before they are gone.

If we cut Rogers tonight that would be fine.

Move on.

SummittsCourt writes:

I see the idiot parade is still strong. You critics who think you know, know nothing at all. OK, you critics don't like Coach Dooley, then send in your resume for DC since you know so much.

Losing these coaches is not Dooley's fault and they are not jumping a sinking ship. Rather, they are going closer to home. It's why Wilcox didn't leave for Texas after last season.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to eduardo:

YOU IDIOTS RANDY SHANNON WAS JUST HIRED BY ARKANSAS AS DC ON DEC 7TH. GET REAL....DO THE INEVITABLE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, Paul Haynes changed his name to Randy Shannon?

volpreacher writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Nobody else has said it so I will: I hope that Randy Shannon isn't the new D.C. Anyone see the trouble that Miami (aka "The U") is in right now? All of that happened under Shannon's watch. In addition, he was also implicated in some of Miami's NCAA troubles in the mid-90's as an assistant coach.

Stay from him, Coach Dooley.

I've looked up several articles on Shannon. All say he warned the UM athletic dept to stay away from Shapiro. They didn't listen. He is known as a guy with high morals and wanting the best for kids. If this is the case, I welcome him with open arms. Go Vols!

orange_eVOLution writes:

I have never heard anything about Wilcox being a heavy in our recruiting. Fly on, dudes. It for sure is an easier paycheck at Washington State.

I hope Rogers gets busted and never comes back. I'm tired of his punk mouth. We have other wide receivers coming in that can do his job. LATER.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Vereen can go pack sand. So can Da’Rick Rogers with his Twitter account. Some of these dudes need to shut it before they are gone.

If we cut Rogers tonight that would be fine.

Move on.

Im with you on that,DaRick should be sent packing. Also, Palardy tweeted welcoming Shannon to knoxville. Shannons defenses in the early 2000s were amongs some of the best ever.

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Im with you on that,DaRick should be sent packing. Also, Palardy tweeted welcoming Shannon to knoxville. Shannons defenses in the early 2000s were amongs some of the best ever.

If we get Shannon... awesome! That is a good call.

Voluvr writes:

Enter....instant swag...Randy Shannon. If we get Barrow too at LB coach...both were LB's ...coach you have a quick visit to make.

http://www.feelslike98.com/featured/r...

tovolny writes:

I knew and predicted that Wilcox would not make it through 3 years. We had decent talent at safety, but they were grossly under-coached. Wilcox survived on his reputation at Boise State. He was out coached in practically all the games against rated teams the past two years. He got roasted over and over. Just go back and count the busted play ROMPS by the competition. Replacing Wilcox will will prove to be a plus.

Lance Thompson, in my opinion, would be the natural promotion within.

I would like to see some ex-Vols fill in the rest of the gaps... as this also relates to stability. How many ex-Vols are on the staff...one maybe? We need people like Al Wilson, Dale Jones, Stanley Morgan, Darrel Dickey, etc. etc. ….....etc.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to volpreacher:

I've looked up several articles on Shannon. All say he warned the UM athletic dept to stay away from Shapiro. They didn't listen. He is known as a guy with high morals and wanting the best for kids. If this is the case, I welcome him with open arms. Go Vols!

Bingo! I'm glad someone has done their homework. Good post

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

My sources tells me that Randy Shannon will be introduced as DC at UT

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