Alabama's Sal Sunseri is target for defensive coordinator

Alabama linebackers coach to interview

Sal Sunseri

Sal Sunseri

Tennessee hasn't reached the finish line in its search for a defensive coordinator.

But the Vols certainly appear to be closer to the tape as classes resume on campus.

According to a source familiar with the process but not authorized to speak publicly, UT is taking a close look at an assistant fresh off a national championship with Alabama outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri emerging as a candidate to fill the vacant position leading the defense.

Citing a source as well, govols247.com reported that Sunseri is expected to visit Knoxville today to discuss the position with coach Derek Dooley and athletic director Dave Hart.

Sunseri is the latest to be linked to the position opened up by the departure of Justin Wilcox to Washington nine days ago after spending two seasons with the program, joining veteran defensive coordinators Kevin Steele of Clemson, Baylor's Phil Bennett, Navy's Buddy Green former Miami coach Randy Shannon as names that have been discussed to varying degrees.

Like Steele, Sunseri was considered a potential target for the Vols when Dooley hired his first defensive coordinator with the program. Sunseri has since added two more seasons of experience under Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, helping lead the team to a second national title in three years with a dominating 21-0 win over LSU on Monday night in the BCS Championship Game.

Both Dooley and Hart have familiarity with Sunseri given his ties to Alabama. Dooley from his time working with Saban as an assistant and Hart from his role in the athletic department before being hired in September.

Before Sunseri arrived at Alabama, he spent seven years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers — including six in charge of one of the more respected defensive lines in the league, producing Pro Bowl selections in every season except one.

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Comments » 255

saintjosephpatick writes:

I like this hire, it could work. If not him Shannon, if not Shannon then go with Lance Thompson that's my top 3. Sal fixes two problems though. Linebackers and DC.

volpreacher writes:

so will his son come with him to play? He's only a freshmen.

twin942 writes:

I like Lance Thompson as DC. I think he'd be excellent. Remember Chavis was promoted from within and did a fantastic job.

Bring in Sunseri under Lance.

jamgod writes:

Isn't his guy supposed to be a recruiting genius too? Producing probowl Dlinemen in the NFL is what I want to see here at TENN...that is producing AA Dlinemen here at Tenn!!! HOpe this happens for the 2012 recruiting class' sake. Maybe we can swing some of those 4&5* prospects this way to fill out the recruiting class???

NottaVol writes:

Sal is a good coach, but I don't see him leaving the job he has in Tuscaloosa where his son is a freshman that has played a good bit as a true freshman and will most likely start next year. Especially since Doofus will be fired next year. But if he does I wish him the best of luck.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

If we hire him, Lance Thompson needs to be named Co Defensive Coordinator, and both these guys need to highly work together to create a Super Defense. If not him then we still need to target Ron Zook (illinois ranked 7th in overall defense) and Randy Shannon needs to still be definitely considered. How about La. Monroe's Head Coach? Ranked in top 20 for defense and led them to a winning record. Sounds like a guy I want on my staff.

jamgod writes:

in response to twin942:

I like Lance Thompson as DC. I think he'd be excellent. Remember Chavis was promoted from within and did a fantastic job.

Bring in Sunseri under Lance.

Yeah, real fantastic job except for when it was 3rd & 21 or 3rd & 15 or 3rd & 11. Can't count the number of times I was screaming at the TV watching teams get first down after first with huge 3rd and whatever time and time again!!! Lance needs to stay where he's at and continue to coach the LB's as well and we should be pretty darn good in the front seven at least???

daniellovesutfootball writes:

in response to volpreacher:

so will his son come with him to play? He's only a freshmen.

I was wondering the same thing preacher...after watching the re-air of the game today, I kept asking myself if he'd come to. I hadn't seen him play much though do you know if he's any good?

JCJ1986 writes:

in response to NottaVol:

Sal is a good coach, but I don't see him leaving the job he has in Tuscaloosa where his son is a freshman that has played a good bit as a true freshman and will most likely start next year. Especially since Doofus will be fired next year. But if he does I wish him the best of luck.

You don't see him leaving his current job as a position coach? But yet he has taken the time to travel to Knoxville to interview for a SEC D-coordinator job. Stop talking, you're giving the other GED recipients a bad name.

jamgod writes:

in response to JCJ1986:

You don't see him leaving his current job as a position coach? But yet he has taken the time to travel to Knoxville to interview for a SEC D-coordinator job. Stop talking, you're giving the other GED recipients a bad name.

Great responce...priceless. Their at his door now with pitch-forks and torches!!!!

GlassHalfFull writes:

Go Vols! Big weekend ahead with recruiting. We need some positive news.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

He's been a defensive position coach for a quarter century, never been a DC.

Sorta like Lance Thompson who stayed, who changed positions, who has been more loyal to UT the past 3 years than anyone except Chaney.

And his reward is bringing in his clone from the mighty tide.

Is Jay Graham the only one in the entire operation with Tennessee ties? CLT deserves the opportunity. If he's not a Vol for Life, it's UT's thing, not his.

Voluvr writes:

Walter Wells at WKU offensive line coach.

Dougb-VFL writes:

This would be a great hire! I do not like bama at all but their linebackers have been topnotch the last few years.VFL

FWBVol writes:

If Derek Dooley does hire Sal Sunseri as the DC, I can't wait to see how quickly some people start butchering the spelling of his name. We still have peopley spelling Kiffin with one E instead of two Is. And others that never figured out it Erik Ainge instead of Eric Ainge. And to make matters worse, some fans still want to spell Peyton with an A instead of an E.

OK, now that I've had my fun, I really think Sunseri would be a great hire. I'm not concerned that he has never been a coordinator. The guy has a great resume and getting a coach from Alabama's staff fresh off the National Championship would be a big boost for recruiting and the program as a whole.

OrangeForLife writes:

Sal would be a great hire. I hope Lance likes him and stays with the Vols. For whatever reason LT has never been promoted to DC. And we don't know the whole story on that one. The Shannon deal is getting old though. I wish everyone would get over that one. Most of all I wish Vol fans would just support whomever the next DC is.
This time next year when The Big Orange( fingers are crossed) has regained respectability. Maybe some bad mouthers will give DD some credit.

keepitreal4vols writes:

I hope he can teach Dooley how to coach.

oldster writes:

in response to daniellovesutfootball:

I was wondering the same thing preacher...after watching the re-air of the game today, I kept asking myself if he'd come to. I hadn't seen him play much though do you know if he's any good?

He actually has two sons currently playing college football. The other one is the starting QB at Pittsburg. Think he will come, too? I saw Pitt play several games and I never saw the kid play as if he were "lethargic."

OrangePsyched writes:

IF he is the hire it will solidify our commits on the defensive side. DL coach at Carolina and LB coach with national champs is a very good pitch. I saw the negative comments coming from the experts. Thanks for the input now take your meds and go back to sleep.

oldster writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Walter Wells at WKU offensive line coach.

UT needs to hire a high school O line coach. He would be used to teaching people who are not smart enough to learn complicated things like flipping from one side of the center to the other. He would also be used to teaching simple techniques and a system that the Vol O linemen are capable of learning.

I say this because, based upon the facts that they are supposed to be great athletes who were being taught to use blocking techniques and a system that has been successful at the college and pro level, and that, despite that, they could not produce holes for a running back. Consequently, the only answer is that our current o line coach cannot make it easy enough for them to grasp.

movol77 writes:

in response to JCJ1986:

You don't see him leaving his current job as a position coach? But yet he has taken the time to travel to Knoxville to interview for a SEC D-coordinator job. Stop talking, you're giving the other GED recipients a bad name.

True. The Dooley mockers are clustered.

oldster writes:

in response to FWBVol:

If Derek Dooley does hire Sal Sunseri as the DC, I can't wait to see how quickly some people start butchering the spelling of his name. We still have peopley spelling Kiffin with one E instead of two Is. And others that never figured out it Erik Ainge instead of Eric Ainge. And to make matters worse, some fans still want to spell Peyton with an A instead of an E.

OK, now that I've had my fun, I really think Sunseri would be a great hire. I'm not concerned that he has never been a coordinator. The guy has a great resume and getting a coach from Alabama's staff fresh off the National Championship would be a big boost for recruiting and the program as a whole.

You think Sunseri is going to cause spelling issues? What about the name of the guy that is supposed to be taking the special teams coaching position?

LIVINGin98 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

If Derek Dooley does hire Sal Sunseri as the DC, I can't wait to see how quickly some people start butchering the spelling of his name. We still have peopley spelling Kiffin with one E instead of two Is. And others that never figured out it Erik Ainge instead of Eric Ainge. And to make matters worse, some fans still want to spell Peyton with an A instead of an E.

OK, now that I've had my fun, I really think Sunseri would be a great hire. I'm not concerned that he has never been a coordinator. The guy has a great resume and getting a coach from Alabama's staff fresh off the National Championship would be a big boost for recruiting and the program as a whole.

well you cant spell "it's" lol jk

willblitz4bacon writes:

in response to twin942:

I like Lance Thompson as DC. I think he'd be excellent. Remember Chavis was promoted from within and did a fantastic job.

Bring in Sunseri under Lance.

Right on Twin!! I just hope Hart gives CDD a blank check..

NottaVol writes:

in response to JCJ1986:

You don't see him leaving his current job as a position coach? But yet he has taken the time to travel to Knoxville to interview for a SEC D-coordinator job. Stop talking, you're giving the other GED recipients a bad name.

The guy(ITALIAN) is not going to leave his son.

FWBVol writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boy, I sure set myself up for that. I guess I need to check my own mistakes more closely before poking fun at others. But at least I created a new word. LOL

willblitz4bacon writes:

in response to brown-bag-vol-fan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fat Phil went deep sea fishing and he dropped it???

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

Ya'll can gussy this up as much as you want to, but if Sunseri comes away with the job...it isn't that exciting. He's a great recruiter. Well, so was Dooley. We're going to end up with a staff of great recruiters and no real coaches. It's going to get us a class that's ranked in the top 20 on rivals and nothing more.

But then...I kind of like the hire. Sunseri isn't good enough to bail Dooley's butt out of the fire on the field and he isn't glamorous enough of a hire to stop the boosters from changing their opinion of Dooley.

Next season is still make it or break it for Dooley. This hire, if it happens, doesn't change anything.

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

This is probably Hart's choice, slowly but surely Alabama will replace Tennessees heritage in Knoxville, until we re-name the stadium Bear Bryant Stadium on Saban Drive.

volhitman writes:

in response to VOODOOley-2011:

This is probably Hart's choice, slowly but surely Alabama will replace Tennessees heritage in Knoxville, until we re-name the stadium Bear Bryant Stadium on Saban Drive.

And that would be in Knoxaloosa?

Down_The_Field writes:

we always go after the bride's maid and never the bride.

volhitman writes:

in response to brown-bag-vol-fan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Backstroke-(and if you get this, you're old).

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to FWBVol:

If Derek Dooley does hire Sal Sunseri as the DC, I can't wait to see how quickly some people start butchering the spelling of his name. We still have peopley spelling Kiffin with one E instead of two Is. And others that never figured out it Erik Ainge instead of Eric Ainge. And to make matters worse, some fans still want to spell Peyton with an A instead of an E.

OK, now that I've had my fun, I really think Sunseri would be a great hire. I'm not concerned that he has never been a coordinator. The guy has a great resume and getting a coach from Alabama's staff fresh off the National Championship would be a big boost for recruiting and the program as a whole.

Peopley? What is that suposed to spell?

gc_scvol writes:

in response to volhitman:

Backstroke-(and if you get this, you're old).

Waiter what's this fly doing in my soup? 60

bbmon13#478091 writes:

Translation - no one wants the job because it is a one year situation.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

shure? Wow! Also,shouldn't there be an s added to lecture?

SummittsCourt writes:

Bama's linebackers are beasts, give him $$$$ and get him on board.

mikec1000000 writes:

in response to VOODOOley-2011:

This is probably Hart's choice, slowly but surely Alabama will replace Tennessees heritage in Knoxville, until we re-name the stadium Bear Bryant Stadium on Saban Drive.

Seriously? Put down the orange kool-aid for a second and think with your head. The only heritage Tennessee needs to worry about is that of the kids on "the Hill" and how they grow into Vols for Life. The football staff, however, is part of the machine. The business of college sports. This is not 1940. By the way, Coach Dickey was a Gator and I believe he served Tennessee quite well. If we can deal with ties to the swamp, we can deal with ties to anyone. Go Vols!

MikeInTN writes:

Sunseri...totally underwhelming!!!! Dooley's days are numbered, and everybody with any common sense knows that!!!!

GreeneCountyVol writes:

in response to NottaVol:

The guy(ITALIAN) is not going to leave his son.

Bisaccia and Sunseri will come if we make them an offer they can't refuse!!

underthehill writes:

in response to VOODOOley-2011:

This is probably Hart's choice, slowly but surely Alabama will replace Tennessees heritage in Knoxville, until we re-name the stadium Bear Bryant Stadium on Saban Drive.

Seems obvious..and the hole gets deeper...the only heritage now present is the fans who may stop attending but will hold on to hope things will change. I see no reason to believe Hart (with his baggage) can do anything for UT that a UT connected person could not do better.

CarolinaVol2281 writes:

Kinda embarrassing how we go after Bamas hand me downs. Will an outside line backers coach with no coordinator experience be the splash hire we need to settle the program and save the recruiting class? Maybe...if he can talk all of Bamas recruits out of going to Bama...which seems unlikely. Wish we'd go big and make splash hire that makes people say " wow they are serious about winning"
But I suppose this isnt bad for the #4 candidate...if its true that Steele, Bennett, and Shannon turned us down. Wonder why we can't ever get 1 of our top targets for any coaching position?

Vol1973 writes:

This is where Hart begins paying off... get Sunseri NOW !!

GBO

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to jack_2222#231746:

He's been a defensive position coach for a quarter century, never been a DC.

Sorta like Lance Thompson who stayed, who changed positions, who has been more loyal to UT the past 3 years than anyone except Chaney.

And his reward is bringing in his clone from the mighty tide.

Is Jay Graham the only one in the entire operation with Tennessee ties? CLT deserves the opportunity. If he's not a Vol for Life, it's UT's thing, not his.

I agree 100%. CLT has stuck with us through some pretty rough times. He deserves a shot. I'm sure Sunseri would do a great job, but he's at the same level as CLT. I say give the guy that's been here the shot. Our players want it and from what I here, the recruits want it too.

Nonetheless, do whatever you have to do to keep CLT or we lose some recruits IMHO.

GO VOLS!!!

CrankE writes:

in response to FWBVol:

If Derek Dooley does hire Sal Sunseri as the DC, I can't wait to see how quickly some people start butchering the spelling of his name. We still have peopley spelling Kiffin with one E instead of two Is. And others that never figured out it Erik Ainge instead of Eric Ainge. And to make matters worse, some fans still want to spell Peyton with an A instead of an E.

OK, now that I've had my fun, I really think Sunseri would be a great hire. I'm not concerned that he has never been a coordinator. The guy has a great resume and getting a coach from Alabama's staff fresh off the National Championship would be a big boost for recruiting and the program as a whole.

You mean it's not spelled "Quieffen"?

therightstuff writes:

The way a lot of the posts are going we may as well cancel next season and start the search for a new Head Coach, 'cause nobody wants to work where the head man has already been fired. Come on people, the 2012 season is a ways off and you really think Coach Dooley is already gone? Get real folks, the mighty Saban couldn't have done much better with what was left from the former coach and AD....this program was in shambles, period. At least give Coach Dooley credit for coming on board a sinking (or sunk) ship...others saw the wreck and wanted no part of it. Dooley at least has the footballs to take a massive rebuilding project on. Get real, this will take time....sorry to burst bubbles but 2 to 3 years isn't enough to fix this mess.

VOLsince68 writes:

in response to CrankE:

You mean it's not spelled "Quieffen"?

Nice!!!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to therightstuff:

The way a lot of the posts are going we may as well cancel next season and start the search for a new Head Coach, 'cause nobody wants to work where the head man has already been fired. Come on people, the 2012 season is a ways off and you really think Coach Dooley is already gone? Get real folks, the mighty Saban couldn't have done much better with what was left from the former coach and AD....this program was in shambles, period. At least give Coach Dooley credit for coming on board a sinking (or sunk) ship...others saw the wreck and wanted no part of it. Dooley at least has the footballs to take a massive rebuilding project on. Get real, this will take time....sorry to burst bubbles but 2 to 3 years isn't enough to fix this mess.

therightstuff says the right stuff

too many delusional fans who think we should be playing for an SEC championship every year just don't get the incredible mess Dooley has taken on.

CrankE writes:

Who?

If you have to think about who he is or have his resume explained, then he's not a splash or slam dunk hire-even if he's a great person and a good coach. Just my $0.02.

Further; if UT can't make a splash hire then it hints that they may be taking whoever they can get. It's almost like the splash hires don't want to come here with the uncertainty swirling around Dooley or something. It's almost like they know or suspect the same thing that the rest of us do.

taylorsvolfan writes:

Just hurry up and name some dadgum body !

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