Lance Thompson appears headed back to Alabama

Sixth coach gone since end of season

Tennessee defensive line coach Lance Thompson watches as the Vols struggle against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the fourth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee defensive line coach Lance Thompson watches as the Vols struggle against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the fourth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.

Lance Thompson

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Tennessee plucked an assistant from Alabama to fill a hole on its staff.

The Crimson Tide has returned the favor.

Defensive line coach Lance Thompson was tapped on Sunday night for a return to the Alabama staff he was a part of prior to landing with the Vols three years ago, according to a source in the program. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Thompson is set to take over the position most recently held by Sal Sunseri, whom UT just signed to a three-year deal to take over as its defensive coordinator.

"You catch a break for about 30 seconds," Vols coach Derek Dooley said Friday while announcing the addition of Sunseri. "That's about how long you've got at Tennessee before something else is on the way."

Yet another search is on tap for Dooley now, with Thompson's return for a second stint under coach Nick Saban at Alabama — and third overall with him — leaving the Vols to look for a sixth new assistant since the season ended with a disappointing loss at Kentucky.

Wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett retired and special teams coordinator Eric Russell left for Washington State in December.

Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon accepted similar positions at Washington this month, which was followed last week by offensive line coach Harry Hiestand resigning to accept an offer from Notre Dame.

At this point, UT coach Derek Dooley has replaced three of his vacancies, welcoming Jay Graham back to his alma mater to handle running backs, landing Sunseri on Friday and hiring former North Carolina assistant Sam Pittman last week to take over on the offensive line.

According to a source, San Diego Chargers coordinator Rich Bisaccia remains the top choice for the special teams vacancy.

As for the other available spots, Dooley declined to address how he might proceed during his Friday news conference but did indicate that the addition of Sunseri and his versatile background allowed for some creativity.

"Sal can coach a lot of positions," Dooley said. "There's flexibility, but I don't want to go ahead and tell you how we're going to slot everybody."

However the staff shakes out, the Vols will now have one more new face on it.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football.

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Comments » 462

murrayvol writes:

This should come as no surprise.

volinlm writes:

If true, not surprising. Hopefully not.Once again, can't write a story without mentioning the loss to Kentucky and no bowl game.

BR_549 writes:

Guess he didn't want any part of being with Alabama's JV squad.

Seahawk writes:

It will be his third stint at Alabama. Thompson also worked under Dubose.

goob_21#356041 writes:

Hate to hear that

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

This isn't good, anyone of you saying it is might need to get your brain checked.

creekroad writes:

Don't you know that UT would love to find the person ' familiar with personnel, but not authorized to speak publicly'.....when they do he/she is gone.....and they are close

Vol43 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

This isn't good, anyone of you saying it is might need to get your brain checked.

Ok sunshine, what do we do? Set our hair ablaze and run into the streets? You go first; I'm going to bed.

keepitreal4vols writes:

OUCH, Is our equipment managers leaving too?

FearThisElephant writes:

in response to murrayvol:

This should come as no surprise.

This comes in as a huge surprise. Elephants have long memories. Bama fans have no fuzzy feelings for LT. But if Nick says so. As the keyboard turns...

VOLsince68 writes:

I really hate this.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

This isn't good, anyone of you saying it is might need to get your brain checked.

Sup' RR? You hearing anything on D. Bourqe who was committed to LSU?..Or Korren Kirvin who visited this weekend?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Vol43:

Ok sunshine, what do we do? Set our hair ablaze and run into the streets? You go first; I'm going to bed.

HUH?

jobrando#216494 writes:

dang, I've heard Chaney is grumbling

frblalack writes:

I was hoping Coach Thompson would stay. He has served our beloved Vols admirably. Good luck to you, Coach Lance! And thanks for your service to the University of Tennessee.

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life

coach75 writes:

wonder what the chances are we will hire a former ut linebacker in this spot and sunseri will move to d-line

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Sup' RR? You hearing anything on D. Bourqe who was committed to LSU?..Or Korren Kirvin who visited this weekend?

Borque committed today. Kirven is really high on UT. He was high on us, then we lost Wilcox which he wasn't happy about. After getting him to K-Town and getting a new DC,he felt better. Now we lose our D-line coach and it will be interesting. I know Bama fans are sour on CLT, but dude's a good coach and good recruiter. He and Terry Joseph were McCullers recruiters. I'm a UT fan, but I'm realistic. Losing all these coaches isn't good. CLT has done a very good job at UT and has been loyal.

TNVolunteers57 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

dang, I've heard Chaney is grumbling

Really??

Olcrow writes:

in response to coach75:

wonder what the chances are we will hire a former ut linebacker in this spot and sunseri will move to d-line

Slim,very slim

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to coach75:

wonder what the chances are we will hire a former ut linebacker in this spot and sunseri will move to d-line

Lance was coaching DL and did a heck of a job with what he had to work with. He did a heck of a job when he did coach our LBs.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

I'm sure they knew that might happen when he wasn't offered the DC job. Don't look like Bammer is offering it either. Oh well, if it happens it happens. Go find a better one!

Go Big Orange Always!

osbymartin75 writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Sup' RR? You hearing anything on D. Bourqe who was committed to LSU?..Or Korren Kirvin who visited this weekend?

Not RR but read where Bourque committed today and Kirven left his visit this weekend with UT high on his list...

lomas98 writes:

Wow. Only 3 coaches left from last season. Who goes next? I can't wait to see who everybody's inside sources claim will be thompsons replacement. That part of a coach leaving is always comical. Could hear anybody fro Ed orgeron to Johnny majors to Randy Shannon to Phillip fulmer.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

dang, I've heard Chaney is grumbling

Really? Bout what Jo?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to lomas98:

Wow. Only 3 coaches left from last season. Who goes next? I can't wait to see who everybody's inside sources claim will be thompsons replacement. That part of a coach leaving is always comical. Could hear anybody fro Ed orgeron to Johnny majors to Randy Shannon to Phillip fulmer.

Some are mentioning Kevin Steele.

imw8n4u writes:

The hits just keep on coming, I'm really starting to hate checking this site for Vols news...

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

we cant even beat alabama in the offseason

crimsonviper writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Borque committed today. Kirven is really high on UT. He was high on us, then we lost Wilcox which he wasn't happy about. After getting him to K-Town and getting a new DC,he felt better. Now we lose our D-line coach and it will be interesting. I know Bama fans are sour on CLT, but dude's a good coach and good recruiter. He and Terry Joseph were McCullers recruiters. I'm a UT fan, but I'm realistic. Losing all these coaches isn't good. CLT has done a very good job at UT and has been loyal.

Just read about Bourque on another site..Got a feeling Sunseri will get Kirven..Personally I am glad to have Thompson back..Things are sure changing fast.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Borque committed today. Kirven is really high on UT. He was high on us, then we lost Wilcox which he wasn't happy about. After getting him to K-Town and getting a new DC,he felt better. Now we lose our D-line coach and it will be interesting. I know Bama fans are sour on CLT, but dude's a good coach and good recruiter. He and Terry Joseph were McCullers recruiters. I'm a UT fan, but I'm realistic. Losing all these coaches isn't good. CLT has done a very good job at UT and has been loyal.

Just read about Bourque on another site..Got a feeling Sunseri will get Kirven..Personally I am glad to have Thompson back..Things are sure changing fast.

TNSORRYTEERS writes:

This program is the laughing stock of the college football world!!Bama will take that trade off anyday!! Why would any sane recruit want to come to this turnover factory??Just saying...

Ironcity writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Some are mentioning Kevin Steele.

I would love to get Steele as a position coach. We should open the vault and bring back Rodney Garner. Not the best coach but he can sure recruit.

lahvolman2 writes:

Not to worry.... we'll be just fine... Dooley is bringing quality coaches.... he'll be here for a long time... just goes to show what quality coaches he has brought in so far..... if not .. why are they taking this opportunity to advance themselves... Tennessee football is on the rise.. BOOK IT...

rtrchatt writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Borque committed today. Kirven is really high on UT. He was high on us, then we lost Wilcox which he wasn't happy about. After getting him to K-Town and getting a new DC,he felt better. Now we lose our D-line coach and it will be interesting. I know Bama fans are sour on CLT, but dude's a good coach and good recruiter. He and Terry Joseph were McCullers recruiters. I'm a UT fan, but I'm realistic. Losing all these coaches isn't good. CLT has done a very good job at UT and has been loyal.

Just proves what all Saban haters will never acknowledge. Great coaches want to be a part of the Alabama program under CNS. Results and success speak for themselves. 48 wins/4 yrs, a SEC Record, and Saban will retire from the UA, but not anytime soon.

Coach Sal wants to be a HC. I give him 2/3 yrs, but he could be a good choice if DD is replaced.

mbible1utk#324980 writes:

can honestly say I don't blame him, because all the time we needed a DC, you never heard his name come up...so we took someone elses position coach and promoted them.

Volsrbest writes:

Coach LT was committed to Dooley, but Dooley didn't give him the chance to move up. Can't blame him for leaving.

oldster writes:

in response to murrayvol:

This should come as no surprise.

Agreed, and this one probably hurts more than the rest combined. With him gone UT has lost every significant recruiter it had prior to staff changes and the committments. Let the bad times keep on rolling in Big Orange Country.

Myrtlevol writes:

Marion Hobby could be getting a call to come home as well.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to osbymartin75:

Not RR but read where Bourque committed today and Kirven left his visit this weekend with UT high on his list...

Thanks,I heard he was wanting to visit but wasn't sure if he did..Big,big catch for whoever gets him.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to osbymartin75:

Not RR but read where Bourque committed today and Kirven left his visit this weekend with UT high on his list...

Thanks,I heard he was wanting to visit but wasn't sure if he did..Big,big catch for whoever gets him.

lomas98 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I would love to get Steele as a position coach. We should open the vault and bring back Rodney Garner. Not the best coach but he can sure recruit.

You just described lance Thompson. Sounds like all the coaches we have brought in so far are upgrades in recruiting compared to the ones who left. Hopefully thompsons replacement can recruit just as well but can coach them up as well.

veinsoforange writes:

in response to creekroad:

Don't you know that UT would love to find the person ' familiar with personnel, but not authorized to speak publicly'.....when they do he/she is gone.....and they are close

Yeah, really!

It's at least good to know our hometown paper is not only consistent in their love to stir up trash on our athletic program but consistently know how to "copy & paste" from previous articles too!

lahvolman2 writes:

in response to oldster:

Agreed, and this one probably hurts more than the rest combined. With him gone UT has lost every significant recruiter it had prior to staff changes and the committments. Let the bad times keep on rolling in Big Orange Country.

BS.... we are going to be a team to be to beat... Dooley and Hart have a plan... deal with with it...

FWBVol writes:

I believe CDD needs to fill this, and other openings, with former Vols if that are qualified for the openings on the staff.

I still think Dale Jones would be a great addition to the staff and, unless there are family reason for his staying at Appy State, I see nothing that would lead me to believe we couldn't get him back to Knoxville.

Kevin Steele wouldn't be a bad position coach, but I'd rather have Marion Hobby come in and maybe coach the defensive line if CDD goes for former Vols on the staff.

We now have three openings, the tight ends/special teams guy and two defensive openings. If Sunseri coaches a position along with coordinator, which Chavis did, but Wilcox didn't, that gives Dooley a little more flexibility in the hires.

I hate to see Lance Thompson leave. He's bee a great addition to the Tennessee family since being hired by Kiffin, but I also understand the move and wish him the best, except in recruiting against the Vols and the Third Saturday in October.

clvolfan writes:

in response to murrayvol:

This should come as no surprise.

They should have headed this off and extended his contract to 2-3 years,with a huge raise,just as they did with the DC and Jay Graham..........BS

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Really? Bout what Jo?

Just some chatter from folks on other boards. Probably nothing at this point. Just thought someone else may be hearing it.

skyhawk836 writes:

Would love to see Kacey Rodgers here

pcshowtime writes:

what did we get for not giving Lance Thompson a chance a defensive coordinator. we signed Sal who if dooley is gone we will owe 2.4 mil. For god sakes folks lance thompson was the the sal of 3 yrs ago when kiffen brought him in.

Olcrow writes:

in response to Myrtlevol:

Marion Hobby could be getting a call to come home as well.

Tracy Hayworth is another Vol with Dline coaching experience.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Just some chatter from folks on other boards. Probably nothing at this point. Just thought someone else may be hearing it.

Yeah, guess we'll see. Hope it's not true.

lahvolman2 writes:

Dooley is the man... told Sunseri. he wanted linebackers to be more agressive... how bout that... CDD knows what we want....

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