Late Sunday, Tennessee defensive coordinator defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon told Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley that they were leaving Knoxville to take the same positions with the University of Washington.
The departure of Wilcox and Sirmon make the third and fourth assistant coaches to leave the program.
In the same report, Volquest.com’s John Brice explains that at least part of the reason why coaches are bolting from the program is that Athletic Director Dave Hart will not commit to multi-year contracts for the coaching staff.
Reading between those lines: Hart has little confidence in the current coaching staff and is likely to make a change should things not turn around dramatically on the field next season.
Last week, news surfaced that Dooley would refuse to allow freshman wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett’s request for a transfer if he sought to enroll at a BCS conference school in Michigan. Central Michigan is Ok. Western Michigan is Ok. Big Blue and Sparty are not. While there is reason to believe that we’re not hearing the whole story on the Arnett issue, it’s still a major PR blunder, especially in the eyes of recruits who sign national letters of intent just four weeks from now.
The conflagration grew even more serious when the program lost two recruits over the weekend, and comments from both prospects highlight an alarming level of turmoil in the Dooley regime.
Each of these stories have a pushback line associated with them. Wilcox and Sirmon are both west coast guys and were roommates at Oregon in the 1990’s. So their leaving for a Pac-12 job is no big deal. Multi-year assistant coaching contracts are rare and usually reserved for the best of the best, and UT hasn’t even been good the last two years. The whole story isn’t out about Arnett (this is likely true), and the two recruits that left were poor fits for the program. If any one of these sparks happened on their own, none of them would likely be a big deal. But put them all together and it looks like the Tennessee Volunteer football program is an all-out, two-alarm dumpster fire.
Program insiders have whispered all season long that this thing was going to blow sooner rather than later.
Dooley is expected to hold a meeting with the media this morning. It is anybody’s guess what the topics will be, but if it doesn’t include an inane metaphor about putting out fires with bamboo it’ll be a spectacular fail.