As both birdjam and Caban have already noted, Tennessee defensive line coach Lance Thompson is leaving the Vols to take the Alabama outside linebackers position recently vacated by new Vol defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. You can't really blame the guy; he's been passed over twice now for the UT DC position, and -- heads up, joke coming -- it appears that the quickest route to the top at Tennessee right now is to bounce off of Nick Saban. Yeah, I know he's worked with Saban before, but y'all know how bouncing works, right? Bounce, BOUNCE, BOUNCE!!!
Okay, so you can't fault him, and coach Thompson is saying all of the right things on the way out the door, so good for him. But having six vacancies on a coaching staff is having six vacancies on a coaching staff. Yeah, I wrote it that way because that's what people do when they want the conclusion to be forgone but don't really know what that conclusion should be. I see norcalvol's footprints on this road I'm traveling, a spongy path that smells faintly of maple syrup, and I think I'm going to end up in the same place he is, namely at a tepid conclusion that these varyingly traumatic moves may turn out to be just what we need for 2012. Or maybe not, but if not, what's the difference?
On one hand, losing defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to the West Coast is bad. Replacing him with Sunseri feels like loss mitigation to a degree, but I don't know that it gets us back to zero. We'll have to wait and see on that. On the other hand, trading Sam Pittman for Harry Heistand really feels like a net gain. And getting Jay Graham home, well, that feels like pure positive, right? But the simple fact of more change? Ack.
Adversity is the Great Sifter. Shake anything hard enough, and stuff starts to fall out. Does the source of or the reason for the shaking matter? Does it matter whether Heistand was asked to leave, whether Wilcox scurried off a sinking ship, or whether Dooley's just trying to hold on for dear life while the world quakes around him? Down deep In some of the minutia it probably does, but the net result is the same. Things change. And sometimes they seem to change all at once, and sometimes that change is good and sometimes it sucks the life out of you.
So what should we make of all of the changes in the coaching staff? Only this: Yep, it's changed. The rest of it, we won't know until this fall, and oh, that is a long way away.