Thursday, January 12, 2012
Vols hire Pittman to coach offensive line
By Chris Low
It's been a revolving door on Tennessee's coaching staff ever since the season ended, and head coach Derek Dooley moved quickly to fill his latest opening.
The Vols announced on Thursday that Sam Pittman had been hired to coach the offensive line after Harry Hiestand bolted for the Notre Dame offensive line job.
Pittman was at North Carolina for the past five seasons and part of Butch Davis' original staff there in 2007. Just prior to the 2011 season, Pittman was promoted to associate head coach, replacing John Blake, who resigned one game into the 2010 season after being linked to NCAA allegations that triggered an investigation of the Tar Heels' football program. Pittman was named as one of the country's top 25 recruiters by ESPN.com in 2011. He was at Northern Illinois before joining Davis at North Carolina.
The Vols have seen five different assistant coaches to leave since the end of their 5-7 season. One of those, receivers coach Charlie Baggett, was not retained. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left for the same jobs at Washington, while special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Eric Russell left to join Mike Leach's staff at Washington State.
Dooley is targeting Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri and Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green to replace Wilcox. Dooley has talked with both Sunseri and Green in the last two days. Dooley has offered the special teams coordinator's job, meanwhile, to San Diego Chargers assistant Rich Bisaccia, who just finished his first season as the Chargers' special teams coordinator. Bisaccia was previously the associate head coach and special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dooley had already hired Jay Graham to coach the Vols' running backs. Graham, a former star running back at Tennessee, had been at South Carolina the past three seasons.