Jay Graham reunites with Randy Sanders, Sal Sunseri at Florida State

Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham tries to strip the ball from running back Devrin Young during practice at Haslam Field on Monday, August 6, 2012. 

(Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham tries to strip the ball from running back Devrin Young during practice at Haslam Field on Monday, August 6, 2012. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, a former Tennessee offensive coordinator, calls to his players in the game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, a former Tennessee offensive coordinator, calls to his players in the game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri observes the team warming up before facing Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri observes the team warming up before facing Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham, a former Vol great who returned to his alma mater just over a year ago, is leaving for Florida State.

New head coach Butch Jones confirmed the news on his Twitter account this morning. It was first reported by WarChant and Volquest, the Rivals.com affiliates of the two schools.

“The process of adding a new coach to our staff is underway, and we will hire the best person possible as we continue to build our program,” Jones wrote.

Graham, 37, came to Tennessee from South Carolina after the 2011 season and spent one year under coach Derek Dooley.

He was the only coach from Dooley’s staff retained by Jones, who raved about Graham’s recruiting ability.

Graham, a North Carolina native, played for the Vols from 1993-1996, rushing for 2,609 yards before embarking on a five-year NFL career.

He was slated to make $260,000 in 2013, a $35,000 raise from what he would have made on Dooley’s staff, but still the second-lowest salary on Jones’ nine-man coaching staff.

Graham’s role on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State has not yet been announced.

FSU just hired new running backs coach Randy Sanders, a longtime UT assistant who was Graham’s position coach in college.

Graham will also be reunited with FSU defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, who was UT’s defensive coordinator in 2012.

Graham was a popular figure with Vols fans, receiving three standing ovations during a post-National Signing Day tour of the state earlier this month.

Jones told fans that he had “rehired” not “retained” for his new staff, and that Graham had helped him get the lay of the land during his first few weeks on the job.

For his part, Graham said he felt welcome on the staff that was made up largely of coaches who had worked with Jones in the past.

"This is a great group of guys,” Graham said in December. “I've enjoyed being around them and I've enjoyed being around Coach Jones. There are no egos; they just work hard. They're blue-collar coaches that understand recruiting and watching tape and understand what they're looking for."

Graham’s departure leaves Tennessee with only one African American coach in an on-field coaching role -- linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. Every other SEC team has at least three black assistant coaches in on-field roles. Eight of the 14 SEC teams have at least four black assistant coaches.

If Jones follows the script for his previous hires, he could turn to Roy Manning, who coached running backs for Cincinnati last year but was not invited to join the staff at UT. Manning, who is black, is now at Northern Illinois.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 70

HooRay_Vol writes:

There goes Jalen Hurd with him............

RockyTop1_old writes:

Sorry news for such a good weekend to end on....Looking for REAL VFLs!!

StoneJackBaller writes:

I say hire Trooper Taylor...take a chance. He can recruit like heck and he fires everyone up.

keepitreal4vols writes:

This can only be about 1 thing....the benjamims

Madkels writes:

I'm sure it's about money. As one of the least paid coaches, I'm sure FSU offered much more.

Also, who cares what color or race the coaches are? If they can coach, I don't care if the are pink.

SummittsCourt writes:

Let's see, he went to join the worst D-Coordinator in the history of UT football and one of the worst O-Coordinators in UT history at FSU. What's jimbo trying to do, set the seminoles back 50 years? Is he going to bring in weasel boy as the OC once he gets fired next season?

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

I say hire Trooper Taylor...take a chance. He can recruit like heck and he fires everyone up.

Trooper Taylor is damaged goods. He weighs heavily on the NCAA investigation of Auburn

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

My memory of Graham as a player are his two fumbles a UF that contributed heavily to UT losing in what should have been a championship year.

Fine with me if he moves along.

volfan1202 writes:

Oh boy, maybe we get another coach from Cincinnati!
Seriously people, stop all the "VFL" garbage.
That was just more BS from Dooley's bag of "stuff to tell people so they won't know I stink as a coach".

gc_scvol writes:

Evan, You're a good writer. Make your escape now, before you end up like the rest of the KNS sports writers. African American, really? How did that become a part of your article? Makes absolutely no sense to start coloring people in this article. Looking for sensationalism? You're better than that. But my Daddy used to tell me, "If you lay with dogs long enough, you're bound to get fleas sooner or later."

Pistolpete13579 writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Trooper Taylor is damaged goods. He weighs heavily on the NCAA investigation of Auburn

Agreed,

This post was submitted by an Appalachian American

FORTKNOXVOL writes:

What does the color of the coaches skin have to do with anything? I get real tired of people throwing in the race card. I do not care if a coach is purple as long as they coach.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Madkels:

I'm sure it's about money. As one of the least paid coaches, I'm sure FSU offered much more.

Also, who cares what color or race the coaches are? If they can coach, I don't care if the are pink.

Mad
Please stop stirring the pot with components like your last statement. Let it die man! Let it Die!

Pompey writes:

...I can not believe that Woodbery injected race into this already sad news...

calvolfromkingsport writes:

in response to FORTKNOXVOL:

What does the color of the coaches skin have to do with anything? I get real tired of people throwing in the race card. I do not care if a coach is purple as long as they coach.

Purple, green, rainbow, doesn't matter. Kind of seems the Vols are getting that Mid American Conference flavor though. Oh well, got a bad feeling how this is gonna play out.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

Evan, You're a good writer. Make your escape now, before you end up like the rest of the KNS sports writers. African American, really? How did that become a part of your article? Makes absolutely no sense to start coloring people in this article. Looking for sensationalism? You're better than that. But my Daddy used to tell me, "If you lay with dogs long enough, you're bound to get fleas sooner or later."

I agree. I thought the story was a coach leaving and the need to fill an opening. Why insert political correctness?

UTKin1992 writes:

So FSU gets our sloppy seconds now? It's about time! We've been taking everyone else's for too long...

SherryC writes:

Best of luck to Coach Graham! He did a lot for us in such a short time. Look forward to getting him back in Orange sometime in the near future!

usafvol writes:

Wow; Sanders and Sunseri working together and I thought "we" were putting together the best staff in college football, not FSU. (sarcasm)

JohnnyU writes:

This doesn't sound good to me. This might be more than just money. He leaves his alma mater for Florida State (fine program), but he does not have a defined job as yet? And the timing? This would be a completely mercenary move for it to be only about money. In any case, disappointing.

Regarding any concern over affirmative action, I seem to remember the University of Tennessee recently offering $3.5 million to an African American to be head coach.

ROCKYnROCKFORD writes:

$$$$$$$ Coach Jones and his Cincinnatti posse walked into

50-90% pay increases. Jay Graham, with his SEC pedigree,

picked up a 15% increase and wound up ahead of only the

strength and conditioning coach....it's about $$$$.

Left to his own devices, I doubt Jones would have retained

Graham. There was a lot of pressure from the fan base to

retain Graham. Let's see who is the replacement....bet he has

ties to Jones.

Why was it necessary to reward his staff with these insane

increases? Why not 20-30 % initial increase and then make their

pay competitive when SEC proven.... and they wonder why all

the empty seats.

volfan2002 writes:

I don't see this being money since the cost of living there is a lot higher than in Knoxville.

FWBVol writes:

I hate losing Graham because I think he's a great Vol. Before we go bashing him, we need to hear his reasons for leaving, which might never happen.

If a coach has to leave this is the best time for Graham to do so. It's a few weeks after signing day and a couple of weeks before the start of spring practice. The next RB coach can hit the ground running at the start of spring, no pun intended and will have plenty of time to build relationships with the backs UT is trying to recruit.

I'm glad Butch is comfortable with all of the guys that have followed him from other schools, but this is the time for him to step out of his comfort zone and hire a running backs coach with, if not a SEC background, a background from a power conference. We need to get a WOW coach in to handle the running backs, someone that everyone knows and the recruits will want to play for. If that means bumping him up the pay ladder past some of the guys that have been with Jones a while, so be it.

StoneJackBaller writes:

in response to volfan2002:

I don't see this being money since the cost of living there is a lot higher than in Knoxville.

So Tallahasse, Florida has a much higher cost of living than Knoxville?? I'm not buying that...even if it is, it's only a small amount compared to what his raise probably was.

rtrchatt writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

I say hire Trooper Taylor...take a chance. He can recruit like heck and he fires everyone up.

Please, please hire "troopa the bagman" Taylor.

laraccoon writes:

Sunseri and Sanders on the same staff, man i Ill bet Florida St.'s upcoming seasom will go down the toilet .

jack4444 writes:

The entire university system and the Knoxville campus specifically are in the hands of folks who do not share the fundamental views of East Tennesseeans.

Can you imagine Andy Holt or Joe Johnson getting into such serious debt problems? That they would project financial prosperity to such an extent that they had no reserve?

Butch Jones does share those East Tennessee values. So did Doug Dickey and Fulmer.

But the real fundamental problem lies within the administration. East Tennessee has grown dramatically through the years but those basic cultural values should never change.

RockyMtnVol writes:

We have to trust CBJ, it JG wants to leave to head up the Recuiting at FSU.....fine. What does this say about his loyalty?...I know it's probably the $$$ signs. However, it you're talking to parents and try and convince them you will stay 4 years. There is no loyalty anymore.

SummittsCourt writes:

8 jobs in 13 seasons... there's no loyalty at all in Jay Graham. Bye-bye!

HazardKYVol writes:

Doesn't really matter why he left for FSU. The fact is, he left, so time to hire his replacement and move on.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

Evan, You're a good writer. Make your escape now, before you end up like the rest of the KNS sports writers. African American, really? How did that become a part of your article? Makes absolutely no sense to start coloring people in this article. Looking for sensationalism? You're better than that. But my Daddy used to tell me, "If you lay with dogs long enough, you're bound to get fleas sooner or later."

Evan, cut this out, pin it on your wall, refer to as often as needed.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

So Tallahasse, Florida has a much higher cost of living than Knoxville?? I'm not buying that...even if it is, it's only a small amount compared to what his raise probably was.

YES,MUCH higer, lived there.

volthrunthru#658770 writes:

Uh, Psssst....over here...psst...hey sheeple...

why would a LEGEND@UT, having come
home,leave???????? Graham is a great guy,who enjoyed tremendous success here and
elsewhere, prior to meeting Butch Jones and
the Jones gang...

a coach who himself signed the best
of the mediocre class
that Jones & the other Jones Gang coaches
put together...

Psssst.....uh, you hoooooo.....this just
in....

legacy all-americans, who had the only
real success in a recruiting class...

do not leave their alma mater unless
something is seriously wrong at work,
such as:

a. Graham is legacy, best coach, and makes
$50-60,000 less than Jones' bubbahs
he brought from Cincinnati....who
were making about 70% what Graham
was making at UT, last year and got
tremendous raises...while Graham got
promises, a pittance and ignored.

b.These bozo coaches from Cincinnati,
who did NOT step up big in recruiting
this year, are not at Graham's level---
and they are white. Graham is black.
And, the ignorance Jones displayed in
paying his bubbas that way and stepping
over the guy whose "the RUN" against
Bama...a guy who out-recruited Jones's
entire group of bubbas...is amazing.

3. Graham was not even interviewed for
offensive coordinator...not even asked
if he woulde like to interview for it.
Instead, he got this junior-grade head
coach who sucked up to all the UT
lettermen and got them to say nice
things---and the coach jobbed Tee
Martin, because he did not meet the
offer at USC---instead, choosing to
give the money to his bubbas---and
now Jay Graham, Vol to the core, is
voting with his feet, too.

Jones and his bubbas are just more of the problem. They are proving it, weekly. And many of the naive twits on these internet sites---who are starved for a winner at UT---are so dumb that they annoint a mediocre head coach into the next General Neyland, before the guy's first Spring practice, not to mention his first game.

Listen...UT Football is in trouble. And the journalists nowadays suck up to get stories, rather than dig to get facts to report. The coaches that are good do not want to come here or stay here---as evidenced by the fact UT is paying 50% more than comparable experience gets elsewhere---and evidenced by the fact that people like Jay Graham, who knows these bozos, leave. Yes, some other would be coaches will step in, who wore orange, and want to pad their resumes---but these coaches are not SEC caiber. Just that simple. Jay Graham just told you so, if you did not hear Tee Martin.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

YES,MUCH higer, lived there.

One site has Tallahassee as 17% more costly than Knoxville per year, with housing being a huge 32% increase over K-town.

jjsteel writes:

in response to Madkels:

I'm sure it's about money. As one of the least paid coaches, I'm sure FSU offered much more.

Also, who cares what color or race the coaches are? If they can coach, I don't care if the are pink.

we're all pink on the inside

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

Uh, Psssst....over here...psst...hey sheeple...

why would a LEGEND@UT, having come
home,leave???????? Graham is a great guy,who enjoyed tremendous success here and
elsewhere, prior to meeting Butch Jones and
the Jones gang...

a coach who himself signed the best
of the mediocre class
that Jones & the other Jones Gang coaches
put together...

Psssst.....uh, you hoooooo.....this just
in....

legacy all-americans, who had the only
real success in a recruiting class...

do not leave their alma mater unless
something is seriously wrong at work,
such as:

a. Graham is legacy, best coach, and makes
$50-60,000 less than Jones' bubbahs
he brought from Cincinnati....who
were making about 70% what Graham
was making at UT, last year and got
tremendous raises...while Graham got
promises, a pittance and ignored.

b.These bozo coaches from Cincinnati,
who did NOT step up big in recruiting
this year, are not at Graham's level---
and they are white. Graham is black.
And, the ignorance Jones displayed in
paying his bubbas that way and stepping
over the guy whose "the RUN" against
Bama...a guy who out-recruited Jones's
entire group of bubbas...is amazing.

3. Graham was not even interviewed for
offensive coordinator...not even asked
if he woulde like to interview for it.
Instead, he got this junior-grade head
coach who sucked up to all the UT
lettermen and got them to say nice
things---and the coach jobbed Tee
Martin, because he did not meet the
offer at USC---instead, choosing to
give the money to his bubbas---and
now Jay Graham, Vol to the core, is
voting with his feet, too.

Jones and his bubbas are just more of the problem. They are proving it, weekly. And many of the naive twits on these internet sites---who are starved for a winner at UT---are so dumb that they annoint a mediocre head coach into the next General Neyland, before the guy's first Spring practice, not to mention his first game.

Listen...UT Football is in trouble. And the journalists nowadays suck up to get stories, rather than dig to get facts to report. The coaches that are good do not want to come here or stay here---as evidenced by the fact UT is paying 50% more than comparable experience gets elsewhere---and evidenced by the fact that people like Jay Graham, who knows these bozos, leave. Yes, some other would be coaches will step in, who wore orange, and want to pad their resumes---but these coaches are not SEC caiber. Just that simple. Jay Graham just told you so, if you did not hear Tee Martin.

I got a friend with a farm and he'll take you for a ride on the back of his "big green tractor" and you can open your pie hole and he won't need a manure spreader.

volthrunthru#658770 writes:

in response to Olddogsrule:

I got a friend with a farm and he'll take you for a ride on the back of his "big green tractor" and you can open your pie hole and he won't need a manure spreader.

You're apparently trying to get a free lunch.
Hows about wiping that brown stain off your mouth, bud?

What I wrote is more factual than much of what you have been reading, I assure you.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to notavolthrunthru Olddogsrule wrote:

I got a friend with a farm and he'll take you for a ride on the back of his "big green tractor" and you can open your pie hole and he won't need a manure spreader.

so notavolthrunthru came up with his comeback:

You're apparently trying to get a free lunch.
Hows about wiping that brown stain off your mouth, bud?

What I wrote is more factual than much of what you have been reading, I assure you.

And I respond:

"More" factual, not "Completely" factual? So you admit you are spewing BS! Looks like you got a place to live out your sorry existence by making pasture grass grow because you shore don't know or care how an NCAA football program should be built. All you and the other Negavols do is constantly spew the same old same old. We've heard it all before. I'm sure we'll hear it all again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, add nauseum! You'll call us "sunshine pumpers" ...We'll call you "Negavols", because you have no good will toward the program, and only and always expect everyone else to accept your perjorative diatribes. WE don't see you as real fans, but only fans of yourselves.

Your assurances mean nothing to me ... nothing else you wrote requires a response.

Chase286 writes:

First off, Good Luck to Jay as he takes on this new challenge. Sad to see him go, but a guys gotta do what's best for him. And to Evan Woodbury.....I'm not feeling so magnanimous toward to you. You had a nice piece here until you had to bring race into it. It's stuff like this garbage that keeps racial divisions in this country going strong. Jay Graham is an awesome individual, player, and coach. We, in my opinion, were lucky to have him for as long as we did. It has nothing to do with the color of his skin. It was all about what is inside the man. Things like experience, work ethic, and honesty. Quite frankly I don't care what color a man's skin is, what country he comes from, or what religion he practices, or if he is even religious at all. As long as he can get the job done, that is ALL that should matter. Hell, if Butch Jones found a woman to replace Jay, the ONLY questions I would ask is "Can she coach and help lead the Vols back to prominence?" "Any NCAA skeletons?" Those are the only questions anyone should be asking. The rest of it is all a bunch of white noise distractions that the team nor the rest of the Vol Nation really needs. Another disappointing attempt at sports journalism from EW and the KNS. Very disappointing.

6972 writes:

The "monotous chant" that the FSU fans make would be enough to make me insane. After hearing it continously, he may wish that he could hear Rocky Top once again.

oldster writes:

The University of Cincinnati at Knoxville.

sitinhere writes:

I hate to see him leave but I can understand. You have a coach that has proven himself in the SEC and he is the 2nd lowest paid coach on staff. $$$ = respect in the business world. Jay should have been the highest paid position coach on the staff. First thing I've heard about from CBJ that I didn't agree with.

frblalack writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

Uh, Psssst....over here...psst...hey sheeple...

why would a LEGEND@UT, having come
home,leave???????? Graham is a great guy,who enjoyed tremendous success here and
elsewhere, prior to meeting Butch Jones and
the Jones gang...

a coach who himself signed the best
of the mediocre class
that Jones & the other Jones Gang coaches
put together...

Psssst.....uh, you hoooooo.....this just
in....

legacy all-americans, who had the only
real success in a recruiting class...

do not leave their alma mater unless
something is seriously wrong at work,
such as:

a. Graham is legacy, best coach, and makes
$50-60,000 less than Jones' bubbahs
he brought from Cincinnati....who
were making about 70% what Graham
was making at UT, last year and got
tremendous raises...while Graham got
promises, a pittance and ignored.

b.These bozo coaches from Cincinnati,
who did NOT step up big in recruiting
this year, are not at Graham's level---
and they are white. Graham is black.
And, the ignorance Jones displayed in
paying his bubbas that way and stepping
over the guy whose "the RUN" against
Bama...a guy who out-recruited Jones's
entire group of bubbas...is amazing.

3. Graham was not even interviewed for
offensive coordinator...not even asked
if he woulde like to interview for it.
Instead, he got this junior-grade head
coach who sucked up to all the UT
lettermen and got them to say nice
things---and the coach jobbed Tee
Martin, because he did not meet the
offer at USC---instead, choosing to
give the money to his bubbas---and
now Jay Graham, Vol to the core, is
voting with his feet, too.

Jones and his bubbas are just more of the problem. They are proving it, weekly. And many of the naive twits on these internet sites---who are starved for a winner at UT---are so dumb that they annoint a mediocre head coach into the next General Neyland, before the guy's first Spring practice, not to mention his first game.

Listen...UT Football is in trouble. And the journalists nowadays suck up to get stories, rather than dig to get facts to report. The coaches that are good do not want to come here or stay here---as evidenced by the fact UT is paying 50% more than comparable experience gets elsewhere---and evidenced by the fact that people like Jay Graham, who knows these bozos, leave. Yes, some other would be coaches will step in, who wore orange, and want to pad their resumes---but these coaches are not SEC caiber. Just that simple. Jay Graham just told you so, if you did not hear Tee Martin.

Aren't you the same guy who posted all the incessantly ignorant comments about the Vols last year?

You truly epitomize negativity...yet you claim to be a Vol fan? Why don't you prove you're a Vol fan or just quit posting on this website? I cannot remember even once when you had something positive to say about UT.

Vol for Life...win or lose ... Love MY Vols!!! And I support Coach Butch Jones & his staff 110%!

p.s. Jay Graham is a legend in his own mind, nothing loyal about him except to Jay Graham!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Life will go on.

Give Butch a chance.

GBO

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

The 3 Amigos!! I guess Jay thinks Sal and Randy are really good coach's?? If that's true he needed to go..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to oldster:

The University of Cincinnati at Knoxville.

Go change your depends..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Volthrunthru, didn't waste my time reading that novel..It appears you're upset though..Chill.

joeaubie writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Trooper Taylor is damaged goods. He weighs heavily on the NCAA investigation of Auburn

Please enlighten us as to what investigation you would be talking about?

Snapshot writes:

in response to FORTKNOXVOL:

What does the color of the coaches skin have to do with anything? I get real tired of people throwing in the race card. I do not care if a coach is purple as long as they coach.

The color of the coaches skin may not matter to you or me, but it could to some of the young men they are recruiting. Maybe not all of them, but some players could better relate and be more comfortable around a coach of their own race. I think that is why it was mentioned in the article, imo.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to joeaubie:

Please enlighten us as to what investigation you would be talking about?

I know it's hard to keep all of those NCAA investigations separated..

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