Blog Entry

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

Posted on: January 15, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 10:58 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Three years ago, Alabama hired Sal Sunseri to replace linebackers coach Lance Thompson, hired away by Tennessee. So now that Sunseri has also been hired away by the Vols, as Derek Dooley's new defensive coordinator, who has Nick Saban tabbed to replace him? Why, he's hired Lance Thompson, of course. 

That's according to multiple reports Sunday, which cited sources in claiming Thompson will return to the same Crimson Tide linebackers-coaching position he left in 2008 when Lane Kiffin lured him Tuscaloosa. Thompson coached the Vols' linebackers for two years before moving to defensive line duties this season.

Thompson becomes the sixth Tennessee assistant to depart the Volunteer program this off-season. Receivers coach Charlie Baggett retired; previous defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left to join Steve Sarkisian at Washington; offensive line coach Harry Hiestand left to take the same position at Notre Dame; and special teams coach Eric Russell joined Mike Leach at Washington State.

With the hires of Sunseri at DC, former Vol star Jay Graham at running backs coach, and North Carolina's Sam Pittman as the new offensive line coach, Dooley is doing his best to stop the bleeding. But Thompson's departure will leave a substantial mark nonetheless, especially this close to Signing Day; he's long been recognized as one of the SEC's best recruiters, a major factor in his having been hired by Saban in the first place, by Kiffin in 2008, and -- no doubt -- now by Saban a second time. (That the Crimson Tide head coach is willing to bring Thompson aboard a second time despite his earlier decision to hitch his wagon to Kiffin -- whose antics in Knoxville Saban is widely believed to have loathed -- speaks to how highly Saban thinks of his coaching and recruiting acumen.)

There's little doubt that hiring an up-and-comer like Sunseri away from his archrivals was something of a coup for Dooley, and a major positive for his under-fire Knoxville tenure. But every step forward for Dooley and the Vols seems like it's matched by one backwards these days, and it's no real surprise that one that came at the expense of Saban and Alabama was so quickly returned in kind.

For more on the Vols and Crimson Tide, follow's Tennessee RapidReports by Daniel Lewis and Alabama RapidReports by Jim Dunn.

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Since: Mar 18, 2009
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:33 pm

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

He didn't set the recruiting world on fire in Tennessee.  Maybe carrying an red elephant on his shirt will help him regain all his lost luster.  Tennessee wins this exchange of coaches.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2012 3:39 pm

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

Saban is not bringing Thompson back because of his coaching ability. It's Lance's recruiting skill that makes him a valuable member of any SEC coaching staff. It was a smart move by Saban to quickly fill the two openings on his staff in time for the final push before national signing day.

Since: Dec 7, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 4:07 am

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

saban has one of the best defensive minds in football. his defens is predicated on the play ofhis linebackers. he drafts the right ones and somhow coaches them to be the best. so if he took a linebackers coach from tennessee, you knowthat fella is a heck of a coach. anybody would rather coach bama than the volunteers.

Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2012 11:10 pm

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

This is making me downright dizzy.

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