This is not yet at the level of 'confirmed', which is probably because Bisaccia is still coaching in Tampa Bay, but it's probably a safe bet when Wes Rucker appears this confident about the story. Wes is one of the most reliable in the state with news like this, and the fit makes a lot of sense for all parties concerned. We'll talk about the positives and negatives in a second, but first let's look at the man himself.
Rich Bisaccia was a defensive back in his playing days at Yankton College (now closed) and had one pro year with the Philadelphia Stars in the ill-fated USFL in 1983. Since then, he's been a career assistant coach and coordinator with notable stops in South Carolina, Clemson, Mississippi (during Cutcliffe's tenure) for college, and Tampa Bay for the NFL. His special teams work, especially with the Buccaneers, is unanimously complimented and he is considered an 'elite' grab for the position at UT. A few of the comments from our Tampa blog Buc 'Em give the picture:
Despite a quick and dirty look, I couldn't find worthwhile information on his ability to coach running backs and to recruit, but I have little reason to worry about either, as Lane Kiffin has been clear that these are absolute musts for UT. But now, let's look at what each side gains and loses:
- Special Teams Eddie Gran has an unbelievably good special teams resume, but 2009 didn't come through for the Vols. I don't pin that at his feet, since we know that our special teams were a nightmare in 2008 as well, but UT does still need somebody to fix the gaping hole in the team. Bisaccia sounds like a guy who has the potential.
- South Florida recruiting Bisaccia has been a college recruiter in the south for many years, and his (very successful) time at Tampa will make life easy for him to recruit in Gran's old turf. He has the NFL pedigree, the South Florida ties, the NFL ties, and a lot of high-end football figures ready to publicly vouch for him.
- Familiarity with the staff Staff chemistry is a big deal that often gets overlooked. Bisaccia knows the Kiffins and David Reaves quite well, so there should be little concern about how they get along. If there were personality conflicts, they would already be known at this point.
- Career move for Bisaccia The Tampa staff appears set for an all-out turnover in the offseason, as rumors of Bill Cowher heat up and talk of mass desertions/firings are all over the place. It's time for Bisaccia - the most respected coach on the staff right now - to figure his career move. If he wants to be a college coach, this is the perfect opportunity for him to get back into the league with a very healthy pay and high exposure. A few years in Knoxville will give him the opportunity to establish himself at this level and be ready for upward movement later.
- The awesomest goatee in the country While goatees are increasingly becoming the exclusive mark of youth pastors and second childhood middle-agers, you do occasionally run across a gem. From NFL.com:
Spin doctor It's never fun, but looking at the ways that news can be twisted is always a worthwhile endeavour. (Side note: endeavour is one of those words that really should be spelled the British way. It's just more awesome with the 'u'. /tangent) Here's the spin: Bisaccia was on staff with Monte Kiffin in Tampa and was familiar with the Kiffins and Reaves through that common tie. That places a lot of the coaching staff in a very familiar circle. With a head coach's father and brother-in-law already on staff, along with assistants with USC ties (Orgeron and Ausmus), the charge of nepotism will undoubtedly resurface. In response to these, just refer back to Bisaccia's resume and the reactions of Bucs fans to losing him. As with the other coaches, his resume more than qualifies him as a legitimate coach for UT.