Navy's Buddy Green to interview; Harry Hiestand might provide another opening

Tennessee appears close to filling one hole on its coaching staff.

Another might be popping up to replace it.

The Vols have been focused on their vacant defensive coordinator position and are taking close looks at Alabama outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri and Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green, with the former interviewing Wednesday and the latter up today according to a source familiar with the search. But with Derek Dooley’s attention on that critical hire, another program seems interested in giving Derek Dooley even more work to do during an already busy offseason.

According to a source familiar with the personnel but not authorized to speak publicly, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is a top candidate for the same position at Notre Dame and could leave the Vols after two seasons working under Dooley.

Hiestand left the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center shortly before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, stopping briefly to deny reports that he had accepted a deal with the Irish.

“No, I haven’t taken another job,” Hiestand said. “I haven’t talked with anybody today.”

According to a separate source in the program, Hiestand also hadn’t spoken with any of his players to alert them of a possible change in leadership late in the afternoon either.

Should Hiestand leave, Dooley would be looking for a fifth new assistant since the season ended in disappointing fashion with the Vols losing at Kentucky and missing out on a bowl bid to end his second season.

Wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett retired and special teams coordinator Eric Russell left for Washington State in December, and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left earlier this month to join the staff at Washington.

At this point, Dooley has only made one hire to offset the departures, bringing Jay Graham back to his alma mater to coach running backs with a two-year, $225,000 deal.

According to a source, Dooley is close to a deal that would fill the position formerly held by Russell, with San Diego Chargers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia at the top of the list for the Vols.

Fresh off his role in helping the Crimson Tide to a national championship on Monday, the 52-year-old Sunseri has emerged as a possible choice for the job Wilcox held for two seasons. The assistant head coach for Alabama has ties to both Dooley, who also worked under Nick Saban, and UT athletic director Dave Hart, a former staff member for the program until his hiring in September.

Green, 58, has spent the last 10 seasons with the Midshipmen, twice picking up nominations for the Frank Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant. Among his stops during a career that dates back to 1979, Green spent six seasons as the coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga before helping rebuild the defense at North Carolina State prior to his run with Navy.

Should the Vols agree to terms with their possible candidates for the coordinator spots, they’d still have one more full-time position available. And if Notre Dame is able to do the same with Hiestand, Dooley will have to add one more on top of that.

“That’s kind of the nature of our industry,” Dooley said during his press conference last Tuesday. “I’ve said all along that when people are wanting your coaches, despite what a lot of people think, we’re obviously doing something right.

“Like any coaching change, we use it as an opportunity to get better. And that’s what we’re going to do here because as much of the good things as those guys brought, there are always areas where we can improve.”

The Vols haven’t addressed them all yet. A new one could be on the way.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 238

thevoice writes:

How many dominos are we playing with? I thought we used them all.

johnlg00 writes:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

voloffaith writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Now John that would require fans to think and be realistic. On topic, this just says we aren't as bad off with staff as many have said we are. More on this for our beloved fans "as the world turns."

mnvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Nicely stated.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's what I was thinking!

Sir_Spanky writes:

Yet another lateral move. Reckon the HC needs to change his deodorant?

Olcrow writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Yep, a lot of football intelligent people post on here.

Prostar writes:

Does every article have to reference out loss to Kentucky and the fact that 4 asst. coaches have left? Same 2 paragraph rehash every time. Nothing personal but I was disappointed with our inability to run-block all season. I don't know how much was the coach, technique, emphasis on pass blocking or what. Seems to me you could bring in most any coach and there wouldn't be a drop off from what we did this past year, so there's only one way to go and that is to get better. Let's say the coach from San Diego becomes out S.T. coach and Sunseri becomes out DC. Couldn't he also coach Linebackers? Then we would only need to replace the OL position. I'm anxious for some good news for a change.

Ibleedorangeforlife writes:

No big loss here ! I would think that a coach with NFL expierence would be take able to teach a bunch of High School All-Americans to run block I guess that asking too much .

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Prostar:

Does every article have to reference out loss to Kentucky and the fact that 4 asst. coaches have left? Same 2 paragraph rehash every time. Nothing personal but I was disappointed with our inability to run-block all season. I don't know how much was the coach, technique, emphasis on pass blocking or what. Seems to me you could bring in most any coach and there wouldn't be a drop off from what we did this past year, so there's only one way to go and that is to get better. Let's say the coach from San Diego becomes out S.T. coach and Sunseri becomes out DC. Couldn't he also coach Linebackers? Then we would only need to replace the OL position. I'm anxious for some good news for a change.

Will try to find you another source for fb news, Nothing positive written by these guys. I am not biased for/against Dooley but if you want unbiased take, do not(repeat, do not) read anything from these guys.

FearlessFreep writes:

Yes, it's the fans' unrealistic expectations that cause coaches to leave. Unbelievable. Some coaches shouldn't have come to Tennessee in the first place if that's the case.

Our offensive line play in 10 and 11 was the worst I've seen in over 30 years at UT - just atrocious. And it's not because there wasn't talent.

This is basically Dooley 2.0 - he's hitting the reset button and starting over. Problem is he'll only have this year to demonstrate real progress, otherwise he's out.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I've said it before and will say it again, trust the ones who are more qualified than we to find the right guys.

Johnlg, thanks for your good points.

GloryDays writes:

Wow, that would be a big loss, don't let the door hit you in the backside!

wildmed writes:

And with commitments decommitting en masse, it looks like the sidelines might be as bare as Neyland Stadium next year. Spend $50 to see a lackluster effort against Troy? I don't think so.

OrangeDew writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Any relation to Derek Dooley?

atnvol#283282 writes:

Its good to be losing these coaches....Hiestands O line could not run block a lick...this will be the only thing that saves Dooley is to get new blood, different perspectives, which in turn re-juvinates the teams mindset, which is about as low as it can get. Bring on the new.

givehim6 writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know I was thinking about this, back in the 90's Phil had in place some good OC, DC's. Asst coaches and position coaches while he played talking head. Maybe history will do a re-play for UT.

Pompey writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

....insightful post.....

SIMSVOL writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

That's what I was thinking!

Mountain and Bipolar here provide two classic examples of either trolls or phooey^% fans who don't have a clue about college football. Go VOLS!!!

Volorgasm writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

You're right, that is one way to look at it. But of course, there is also another way to look at it too. Perhaps, just maybe, these coaches that left, did so because they are smart and talented coaches, and they couldn't stand to work under an inept football incompetent like Dooley. Maybe, this was the only way for them to salvage the rest of their careers, rather than be dragged down by the Dooley that couldn't! Maybe these coaches actually saw the future at TN, and realized it wasn't pretty, so they bolted. Maybe these coaches are just as smart as the fans who rant and rave about firing Dooley. One thing is for sure, we will definitely see which view is correct, next year. At the end of the third game, we'll all know.

rockypop writes:

Seems like when Fulmer was HC, everybody on this board was carping because no one wanted to hire our coaches. Now everybody is carping because they do. And, by the way, the schools that want them aren't chopped liver, which means Dooley was probably doing something right.

flafan2001 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Using your logic, Dooley should be getting an offer from a BCS school any day now. Just sayin'

givehim6 writes:

in response to wildmed:

And with commitments decommitting en masse, it looks like the sidelines might be as bare as Neyland Stadium next year. Spend $50 to see a lackluster effort against Troy? I don't think so.

Yes a few have left but, masses? Over reacting a bit there tro**.

Pompey writes:

in response to Ibleedorangeforlife:

No big loss here ! I would think that a coach with NFL expierence would be take able to teach a bunch of High School All-Americans to run block I guess that asking too much .

.....I have an idea, you Dooley haters could talk your boy Fulmer into coaching OL....he would surly be more successful coaching OL than hiring an OL coach....Brahahahah!

Pompey writes:

....Hiestand would be out of his mind to turn down an offer from ND, if for no other reason but to escape this toxic environment...!

Go4Two writes:

Football Gods still kicking our rear

Dwinsgames writes:

On another note, we need a Dline coach, Anybody remember a fellow named Jacob Burney. He is with the Redskins, wouldn't hurt to give him a call. Or you could just make excuses and say he wouldn't come anyway.

govolsgo8586 writes:

I just don't see how Sal Sunseri would be a good hire he only has 3 years experience as a DC. And if you research him the longest he ever stayed at 1 place was when he was the DL coach in the NFL so he isn't dependable when it comes to continuity and staying at a place long enough to build a defense. How come a guy like this that has been coaching for so long still only takes position coach jobs. I just can't believe this is the route CDD would go. Does anybody else on here know enough about him to say if this would be a good move or not. It just makes no sense to me to take a guy who has been coaching since 1985 that only has 3 years as a DC (the last time he held the DC job was from 1998-99 at Alabama A&M) and hire him as our DC. I just don't get it but maybe somebody else on here can explain it.

bannervol writes:

Gotta admit I have to wonder if both Hiestand and Russell leaving had more to do with the lack of performance of their units this past season. Wilcox and Sirmon both desirable national candidates moved back to the northwest where they are from and where the recruiting isn't as tough nor the expectations so high. These guys aren't jumping Dooley's sinking ship so much as being held to a standard they don't want to meet. You morons think Dooley is an idiot but I see a leader with a long term plan for success and the resolve to see it through. Stay patient fellow VFLers great things are not that far away.

lomas98 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Brian Kelly was probably more impressed with the pass blocking the last 2 years. They don't try to line up and run it down your throat. Give Kelly's qb's some protection and they can put up some big numbers in that offense. I understand our fans frustration with the line play, but half of what they do is pretty good.

willblitz4bacon writes:

Don't let the door hit ya hiestand. Take some of the trolls with you

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volorgasm:

You're right, that is one way to look at it. But of course, there is also another way to look at it too. Perhaps, just maybe, these coaches that left, did so because they are smart and talented coaches, and they couldn't stand to work under an inept football incompetent like Dooley. Maybe, this was the only way for them to salvage the rest of their careers, rather than be dragged down by the Dooley that couldn't! Maybe these coaches actually saw the future at TN, and realized it wasn't pretty, so they bolted. Maybe these coaches are just as smart as the fans who rant and rave about firing Dooley. One thing is for sure, we will definitely see which view is correct, next year. At the end of the third game, we'll all know.

Fair enough. My only point is that most of the people expressing the more drastic opinions of the situation think they know ALL the considerations involving coaches changing jobs. There is often more than one valid perspective on these things, but the opinion of the average chat-board poster is pretty far down the line of relevance. I'm not sure the ultimate outcome of the Dooley era will or should be known by the end of the third game, but it likely WILL be known by the end of the season.

Voluvr writes:

Our offensive line couldn't bust a grape. Good Luck Harry.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Ibleedorangeforlife:

No big loss here ! I would think that a coach with NFL expierence would be take able to teach a bunch of High School All-Americans to run block I guess that asking too much .

I wonder if you ever played or coached the offensive line. I would guess by your, "I would think..." statement that you have no experience on the offensive line as a player or a coach.

While it is true that run blocking doesn't require as much technique as pass blocking, pass blocking is often easier for many young offensive linemen to master in the initial stages of their careers.

Most freshmen and sophomores are between 18-20 years old and some are as young as 17.

Run blocking is basically brute force and bulldozing the guy in front of you and the freshmen and sophomores, while they might have been high school A-As were still mostly facing junior and senior defensive linemen that have been in college weight programs three, four or five years.

This year will be the first time we've had the same strength coach two consecutive years since Fulmer was coach. I believe the continuity in the weight room and just natural physical growth and maturation will make for a better run blocking unit this fall.

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Everyone knows how hard our assistants had it trying to work for Dooley

Dalton writes:

I'm a Chicago Bears fan and when I heard that Heistand was going elsewhere I rejoiced until I found out his destination...my college love...but being the loyal, blind Volbot that I am I rationalized that maybe his system would flourish in the college game....we see the results...I don't want much in life Santa Claus...just power over my enemies and awesome coaching for my favorite teams...and please let Peyton recover and go ahead and throw Brittany Jackson in my cart while I'm online....GOVOLS!!!!

flatrock writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Seems like some other programs have a better opinion of our coaches than some of our fans do. Maybe they understand the depth of the issues this staff had to deal with and are giving them credit for a good job under difficult circumstances. Maybe some of our fans could stand to adopt such an attitude.

Well stated.

imw8n4u writes:

in response to Pompey:

.....I have an idea, you Dooley haters could talk your boy Fulmer into coaching OL....he would surly be more successful coaching OL than hiring an OL coach....Brahahahah!

I know you are being smart, but I actually think that is a good idea.

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to Ibleedorangeforlife:

No big loss here ! I would think that a coach with NFL expierence would be take able to teach a bunch of High School All-Americans to run block I guess that asking too much .

Not if they have to toil under Dooley who treats ALL as though they are beneath him

DavidB writes:

This years seniors will have played for how many different coaches now? We have had some turnover but on the bright side it may all be for the best. If you are not happy with your current job you dont perform to the best of your abilities sometimes. As of right now I am not going to worry. Just waiting on National Signing Day to see what actually shows up here and hope we begin the job of improvement.

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

Its good to be losing these coaches....Hiestands O line could not run block a lick...this will be the only thing that saves Dooley is to get new blood, different perspectives, which in turn re-juvinates the teams mindset, which is about as low as it can get. Bring on the new.

WHO IS MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TEAM'S MINDSET?

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

Mountain and Bipolar here provide two classic examples of either trolls or phooey^% fans who don't have a clue about college football. Go VOLS!!!

Hey SIMS...opinions are like arzseholes...but some (SIMS) more than others!...LOL...LOL...LOL

oldster writes:

I have always maintained that Heistand was unable to communicate adequately with the players here. That does not mean, necessarily, that all the fault lay at his feet. I have questioned the intelligence of the players UT has ever since they complained about the extreme difficulty that the O linemen had in adapting to switching from the left of the center to the right of the center with Dave Clawson's offense (i.e. strong and quick sides, vs. left and right). As teams I played with in the service in the 60's were able to deal with this idea and 12 and 13 year olds I coached were also able to deal with it, I wondered if UT's players' abundance of physical talent is made up for in lack of intelligence. Based on the assumption that the answer to my query is, "yes" then the teachings of a man used to dealing with pros would be hard or difficult for UT's young men to assimilate. Therefore, I have suggested, and will continue to suggest hiring an O line coach directly from high school. Such a coach's schemes and techniques will likely be much simpler than Heistand's, and his ability to communicate with immature intelligences keener.

BleednUrnge81 writes:

Look, here is the long and short of it. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Dooley and his staff, this is turning into a circus. I don't see why we don't just pay 4 or 5 mil a year to a big name and put the vols back on the map. WTF is keeping us from doin that? GO VOLS!!!!!!

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to Volorgasm:

You're right, that is one way to look at it. But of course, there is also another way to look at it too. Perhaps, just maybe, these coaches that left, did so because they are smart and talented coaches, and they couldn't stand to work under an inept football incompetent like Dooley. Maybe, this was the only way for them to salvage the rest of their careers, rather than be dragged down by the Dooley that couldn't! Maybe these coaches actually saw the future at TN, and realized it wasn't pretty, so they bolted. Maybe these coaches are just as smart as the fans who rant and rave about firing Dooley. One thing is for sure, we will definitely see which view is correct, next year. At the end of the third game, we'll all know.

Good and fair point...and I for one would love to be here apologizing in October 2012 to all of the blindly-loyal Dooley faithful. Hope the new DC can take charge (and punch Dooley in the mouth when he needs it)!

Fighton writes:

I find it interesting that Dooley is trying to spin that fact that his coaching staff is flat out abandoning him, on competitive pressure from programs who think, "(UT) is obviously doing something right."

Dooley, your coaches don’t believe in you and that’s why your assistants had their agents pursue opportunities elsewhere.

chattabluetick writes:

in response to bannervol:

Gotta admit I have to wonder if both Hiestand and Russell leaving had more to do with the lack of performance of their units this past season. Wilcox and Sirmon both desirable national candidates moved back to the northwest where they are from and where the recruiting isn't as tough nor the expectations so high. These guys aren't jumping Dooley's sinking ship so much as being held to a standard they don't want to meet. You morons think Dooley is an idiot but I see a leader with a long term plan for success and the resolve to see it through. Stay patient fellow VFLers great things are not that far away.

I have to wonder the same things bannervol because if I remember correctly Hiestand was OL coach for several years for the Chicago Bears. As you Know THE MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY Have put a premium on the ground game forever. This line he coached for 2 years could pass block okay but in the run game they could not knock anyone off the ball and running lanes were non existent. The funny thing is 2 of the better run games were against Bama and LSU the 2 best defenses in the country. Could this have anything to do with Matt Simms looking over a defense and checking to a run play when the numbers on defense were better for a run than a pass and perhaps Tyler Bray the Gunslinger staying with the pass because he would rather throw every down. Maybe the line just got fired up to play these teams, and if that was the case why could they not get fired up to play any other opponents. I believe the S. T. of coach Russell is still trying to tackle Joe Adams on the punt return in the Arkansas game. Thats another subject--When are they gonna find somebody to teach tackling? Maybe Al Wilson or Dale Jones could come in and demonstrate how to make a textbook tackle.

oldster writes:

I have a possible solution to the idea of hiring Sunseri as DC over Lance Thompson and irritating and possibly losing him. How about naming them co-defensive co-ordinators, with Thompson staying with the D line (where he did a darn good job) and having Sunseri deal with the linebackers? Pay them each the same, as well.

bvol1inSC writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Grant...as you know, there are a lot of "slow" or "no" learners on this site. This is such a low point in our HISTORY...and from the looks of things, we're going to have to stomach it for at least 1-2 more years...

Volfan4445 writes:

maybe we could hire phil fulmer for this????????

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