Vols again target Rich Bisaccia for a staff vacancy

The search for a defensive coordinator continues.

But Tennessee might be close to filling a different vacancy on its football coaching staff.

According to a source within the program not willing to speak publicly until details were finalized, the Vols again have targeted veteran NFL assistant Rich Bisaccia to take over as their special teams coordinator. And after flirting with him for the same position after the 2009 season, UT and the current San Diego Chargers staffer appear to be close to making a relationship official.

The source indicated no timeline for announcing a hire to lead the special teams and tight ends, a gig Eric Russell left last month to take a similar post at Washington State after two years at UT. Bisaccia also was considered the top candidate the last time the job was open, with ESPN.com even reporting in 2009 that he had agreed to a deal with then-coach Lane Kiffin before Kiffin left to take a job at Southern California and Derek Dooley ultimately hired Russell.

The program also doesn't have a definitive deadline set to fill the other empty slots on the staff after the departures of defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon last week.

Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, former Miami coach Randy Shannon, Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and former Illinois coach Ron Zook all have been mentioned as possible targets to replace Wilcox since Wilcox left with Sirmon for Washington, but the process at UT is considered ongoing and certainly not limited to those options.

"I wish that I could put a timeframe on it," Dooley said last week. "It's really complex, given that you have to invest time in recruiting and some teams are still playing in the NFL. It's really hard to say.

"Certainly the quicker, the better. What we're not going to do is try and compromise who we get to try and hurry it up."

The same patient approach has been applied to special teams, though that effort might soon produce an agreement with Bisaccia, who helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl after being hired by the organization in 2002. After collegiate stints at Wayne State College, South Carolina, Clemson and Ole Miss, Bisaccia spent his entire professional career with the Buccaneers before taking his team-first approach to special teams to San Diego last season.

"We've got a linebacker next to a tight end, next to a safety, next to a running back," Bisaccia told the San Diego Union-Tribune in August. "We're all connected by a rope and accountable to each other.

"We've combined offense and defense into 'we-fense,' and we'll see where it takes us."

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Comments » 111

RemembertheAlamo writes:

Could be a good hire. Go Vols!

Olcrow writes:

Lane Kiffin and Phil Fulmer both tried to hire this guy in the past.

Dwinsgames writes:

Do you think Dooley had a clue he should contact Van Goiter? Go big or stay home, the rich get richer and we just make excuses like "we awere busy looking for a special teams guy and didn't know he was available.".

oskievol writes:

Ron Zook? Remember Faxgate. Google it.

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

in response to Dwinsgames:

Do you think Dooley had a clue he should contact Van Goiter? Go big or stay home, the rich get richer and we just make excuses like "we awere busy looking for a special teams guy and didn't know he was available.".

Since Auburn has had this opening about a month, I suspect this hire had already been made just waiting for the Falcons to complete the season and that didn't take very long. He is definitely a good hire-only hope we can do as well.

Razor784 writes:

No way we should hire Phil Bennett or Kevin Steele, i'd be for promoting Lance Thompson before we hire one of those two

BluezVol writes:

This guy will look like a genius if the ST squad only half improves. I just re-watched the 1990 UT/FLA game - as usual a special teams play (D Carter running a kick-off return for a TD) ignited the Vols for 35+ points in the 2nd half. We could use some of those going our way for a change in this 2nd decade of 2000s.

Volalumnus writes:

in response to jsmithnga#207674:

Since Auburn has had this opening about a month, I suspect this hire had already been made just waiting for the Falcons to complete the season and that didn't take very long. He is definitely a good hire-only hope we can do as well.

Dooley knew about a month ago Wilcox may be leaving.

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

I've been a Vol fan for 45 years.
Always said I'd support'em no matter what.
But if they hire Zook for ANYTHING.....I may re-think the color of my kool-aid.

OwensboroVol writes:

Dooley is playing with fire. It is very possible He will lose his recruiting class if he doesn't hurry up. I don't blame a kid for not wanting to go to a school where he doesn't know who his position coach or his Coordinator will be. Would you turn down good jobs to go somewhere that you didn't know who your boss was going to be?

doh writes:

in response to atributetoLombardiwasbanned:

I've been a Vol fan for 45 years.
Always said I'd support'em no matter what.
But if they hire Zook for ANYTHING.....I may re-think the color of my kool-aid.

I agree. He screwed us over the last time.He shouldnt get another chance.

lomas98 writes:

I was all for Dooley getting a few more years but as long as staff stayed in place. Once he starts losing coordinators it is like starting over. Especially when the perception is Dooley has one year to get it back on track. A new DC will only want a longer term deal as security in case what they perceive is true in Dooley's future. This will mean we probably can't get a big name guy. I will be shocked if it is Shannon.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to Razor784:

No way we should hire Phil Bennett or Kevin Steele, i'd be for promoting Lance Thompson before we hire one of those two

I have to wonder with all these horrible options if Hart is trying to "manage" expectations. Most people would prefer promoting Lance over those guys. However, if they had immediately promoted him, the fans would be upset.

Even though Dooley is the coach, this is really Hart's debut as far as the direction the FB team is headed. It is too early to judge, but if we have a dingbat hire, I have to believe it is Hart just giving Dooley rope.

Or, at least I hope...

Brentwoodvol writes:

I wish people would get facts correct on Zook. He was at Fla and not the one faxing!!!!!!!!!!!! That was Sells who faxed copies to Zook.

graphpro#231211 writes:

To me the DC hire will reveal the competency of the new management of the Athletic Department (Hart, etc.)

The previous staff (i.e. Hamilton and company) showed continued ineptitude in so many areas..hiring and firing, contract writing and so on. Where we are is because of the previous AD and his lack of management / leadership. IT WAS AVOIDABLE!

We will see what Hart can do. The hire he makes will reveal his abilities. If the outcome is successful we will know that UT can make it's way back to where it once was. Even with the decisions made about Dooley's job.

VolFaninDC writes:

Just figured something amazing out I think; in the last four years the Vols have won ONE game outside the state of Tennessee. Can anyone correct that? Are we THAT bad?!?!?

CoverOrange writes:

Does this guy know anything about kickers?

jobrando#216494 writes:

Dang, Monte Kiffin in the mix and it's no joke

jsmithnga#207674 writes:

in response to Volalumnus:

Dooley knew about a month ago Wilcox may be leaving.

He knew last year that he may be leaving, but he didn't; therefore he couldn't look for a replacement on a maybe.

nocleats writes:

According to a source within the program not willing to speak publicly until details were finalized,.............. Why cant people inside the program keep their mouths shut? Thanks in advance if this blows up because of a slip of the lip... Dave Hooker couldnt hold a story or keep something off the record and Tennessee got his butt fired, which has had J Adams firing back barbs and attacks ever since..

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to VolFaninDC:

Just figured something amazing out I think; in the last four years the Vols have won ONE game outside the state of Tennessee. Can anyone correct that? Are we THAT bad?!?!?

I could do a quick check under schedules but I don't want to in case you are correct.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to VolFaninDC:

Just figured something amazing out I think; in the last four years the Vols have won ONE game outside the state of Tennessee. Can anyone correct that? Are we THAT bad?!?!?

Dang it, I think you're right. (head lowers slowly)

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

Dang it, I think you're right. (head lowers slowly)

Great special effects

volfan-for-life writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Dooley is playing with fire. It is very possible He will lose his recruiting class if he doesn't hurry up. I don't blame a kid for not wanting to go to a school where he doesn't know who his position coach or his Coordinator will be. Would you turn down good jobs to go somewhere that you didn't know who your boss was going to be?

I agree dooley is playing with fire the longer this goes on the more we could lose i for one i'am not buying the top secret dont tell anyone who we are trying to hire or who we have hired till a certain day and time you cant keep secrets from these's recruits you have to tell them something and they are not saying anything if they knew anything it would be all over the news and if dooley and hart are keeping everything close to them what is the reason ???????? can someone explain???
hopefully the powers to be know what they are doing or are dooley and hart trying to make everybody think one of the dc in tonites game is tenn next dc i'm not buying this for many reasons
go big orange

papavol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree 110% Baylor's defense was ranked 116th this year. Clemson ranked 70th(consequently the amount of points given up to WV).

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! Why would Dooley even consider these two clowns? I am all for the support of the vols and derek dooley but he will just be digging his own grave if he hires one of those two DCs. Maybe I just don't get it.

papavol writes:

in response to volfan-for-life:

I agree dooley is playing with fire the longer this goes on the more we could lose i for one i'am not buying the top secret dont tell anyone who we are trying to hire or who we have hired till a certain day and time you cant keep secrets from these's recruits you have to tell them something and they are not saying anything if they knew anything it would be all over the news and if dooley and hart are keeping everything close to them what is the reason ???????? can someone explain???
hopefully the powers to be know what they are doing or are dooley and hart trying to make everybody think one of the dc in tonites game is tenn next dc i'm not buying this for many reasons
go big orange

It wouldn't be the first questionable Dooley decision. As much as I want to embrace him as the head coach, I'm having a hard time with it.

jomo11 writes:

Footballscoop.com has just confirmed that DC job was offered to Baylor's Phil Bennett and he turned it down

nocleats writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So who would you suggest, that Tenn could get.?

frblalack writes:

Lance Thompson! Unless Coach Thompson has stated that he doesn't want the job, why not? The guy has proven himself as a linebacker coach, a d-line coach, and a great recruiter. I don't understand the mystery. Offer him the job Coach Hart. He's been the best defensive Coach on the staff; Coach Dooley has relied on Coach Lance since he got here.

Of course, since I don't write the checks it is only my humble opinion....but why not try to get Dale Jones or Al Wilson to coach the linebackers?

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

Theo writes:

in response to jomo11:

Footballscoop.com has just confirmed that DC job was offered to Baylor's Phil Bennett and he turned it down

I would seriously consider the phrase "confirmed" coming from a web site called Footballscoop -
No way we offered the Baylor coach the position. That would be like hiring Jim Caldwell to coach quarterbacks.

tdvol1989 writes:

Que the Benny Hill theme song "Yakety Sax". If we COULD have hired Randy Shannon, which would have pleased most Vol fans and recruits, and instead hire a DC that had a bottom 50 defense, then something terribly wrong has happened. Oliver Stone will be all over this. We have a mole somewhere in the program. A Yuri. This just isn't right.

lomas98 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I said that about Morris last week when he was fired. He is highly thought of in the NFL. He is young and I don't think he could just get another hc job in the NFL yet. He coached in college at Kansas st. He is certainly a players coach and that is what ultimately got him fired in Tampa. Would be a great coordinator in college. Heck, just fire Dooley and let him be the hc.

oldster writes:

in response to Razor784:

No way we should hire Phil Bennett or Kevin Steele, i'd be for promoting Lance Thompson before we hire one of those two

Pretty shard comment. Could not agree more. As a result, we are almost certain to get Bennett or Steele.

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

in response to Brentwoodvol:

I wish people would get facts correct on Zook. He was at Fla and not the one faxing!!!!!!!!!!!! That was Sells who faxed copies to Zook.

And it matters that he was catching instead of pitching?
Which are you doing?

transplantiam writes:

you know, if you fellas would relax a little and quit trying to cast another shadow out there where recruits might read it and possibly believe you. None of you know anything about what goes on with the hiring of coaches, just as I don't either, so quit worrying so much and support our Vols and CDD. Allow him to make these decisions and he will get the right man for the job. If he doesn't, it's his job on the line, so don't you think he will be getting the best that he can? Relax, don't get an ulcer, everything will be just fine.

GO VOLS!

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to lomas98:

I said that about Morris last week when he was fired. He is highly thought of in the NFL. He is young and I don't think he could just get another hc job in the NFL yet. He coached in college at Kansas st. He is certainly a players coach and that is what ultimately got him fired in Tampa. Would be a great coordinator in college. Heck, just fire Dooley and let him be the hc.

You have to stop thinking like someone who cares about UT football and start thinking like someone who is in over his head.

Dooley wants to hire someone that makes NO SENSE. Why? First, he would be intimidated by Head Coach material. Then, he wants to prove he can outsmart all of us. If he hires some Middle School coach and wins, then he can prove how much more he knows about football than us.

Anyway, it is not about the coaches. It is about having upper classmen. Youth was the reason.

RemembertheAlamo writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

Dang it, I think you're right. (head lowers slowly)

He is correct, Ky in 2009 is the only win outside the state of Tennessee.

SummerfieldVol writes:

Tom Bradley from Penn State is available. He was the DC for Penn State and was on the defense staff for 12 yrs. Penn State was always know to have a great defense. Alot of good defensive coach are available.

bigOutfan writes:

in response to Razor784:

No way we should hire Phil Bennett or Kevin Steele, i'd be for promoting Lance Thompson before we hire one of those two

Absolutely ! Lance Thompson would be great!

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to SummerfieldVol:

Tom Bradley from Penn State is available. He was the DC for Penn State and was on the defense staff for 12 yrs. Penn State was always know to have a great defense. Alot of good defensive coach are available.

Too good. Too literate. Think dumber. Smaller school. Lower ranked defense. More controversial. Non Power-Conference. Sunbelt-ish.

RemembertheAlamo writes:

Tom Bradley is free, 10th ranked defense in the nation this year. I cannot believe the new head coach for PSU picked Roof from Auburn over Bradley. DD should be contacting Bradley tonight.

BruisedOrange writes:

Uh oh... here we go again. Wonder how an assistant coach's wife and 3 daughters will feel about leaving San Diego to live in Knoxville?

voltech writes:

CDD cannot pick anyone that could be considered a HC candidate in the near future (Shannon, Bradley, Morris) as it would be pointless because a) his 'hot seat' could become an 'ejection seat' if things go poorly next year ( you can't hire the guy that might make it easier to replace you) or b) he'll just have to replace them next year if they are offered elsewhere.
Lose/lose.
Just have faith he'll make the right choice... and soon.

voltech writes:

On a positive note, the Gators seem to be thrilled at the rumor Brent Pease is going to be their new OC. How the mighty have fallen. They are hoping to get an ex Kentucky and Baylor (when they sucked) OC. A couple years at Boise St, seems to have made him amazing in their eyes.
Basically, Florida hopes to reach Boise St status some day.

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

I have to wonder with all these horrible options if Hart is trying to "manage" expectations. Most people would prefer promoting Lance over those guys. However, if they had immediately promoted him, the fans would be upset.

Even though Dooley is the coach, this is really Hart's debut as far as the direction the FB team is headed. It is too early to judge, but if we have a dingbat hire, I have to believe it is Hart just giving Dooley rope.

Or, at least I hope...

Nice thought 1989. I think you are right in that the guy we hire will possibly be an early indicator of the belief Hart has or has not in Dooley and the actions Hart is going to take while evaluating the situation. I hope it all works out and we win 8 or 9 games next year. GBO!!!

GBOEngineer writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

You have to stop thinking like someone who cares about UT football and start thinking like someone who is in over his head.

Dooley wants to hire someone that makes NO SENSE. Why? First, he would be intimidated by Head Coach material. Then, he wants to prove he can outsmart all of us. If he hires some Middle School coach and wins, then he can prove how much more he knows about football than us.

Anyway, it is not about the coaches. It is about having upper classmen. Youth was the reason.

I don't know about all of us, but I am pretty sure Dooley can outsmart you.

McMinnVol writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

Too good. Too literate. Think dumber. Smaller school. Lower ranked defense. More controversial. Non Power-Conference. Sunbelt-ish.

Lol! I wish this was just a funny comment. Unfortunately, there may be an element of truth in it. I am really shocked at some of the dc's that are being considered right now. I would not think the problems at Penn State would follow Bradley. I would think he should be strongly considered. GO VOLS!

traderjoe writes:

Bama looks set to dominate for a couple of more years. There qb is a winner and they got a good running back. If they recruit a couple of receivers, they'll be back next year. We are such a long way away....

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to GBOEngineer:

I don't know about all of us, but I am pretty sure Dooley can outsmart you.

I would welcome the challenge. Coaching is Coaching. Leading is Leading. I would take my chances. Just remember, UT does not pay me 7 figures. They do pay him. Who owes UT performance?

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to traderjoe:

Bama looks set to dominate for a couple of more years. There qb is a winner and they got a good running back. If they recruit a couple of receivers, they'll be back next year. We are such a long way away....

I am all VOL. Have been and will be 4Ever. But I might hope the Mayans are right as that may be the only way to disrupt the true Apocalypse, the Tide dominant in football and the Cheating 'Cats owning the hardwood with no relief in sight. Let's hope the ego of Nick Satan and Cheating Cal are lured away by the $$$s of the NFL and NBA

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