Sal Sunseri on Tennessee: ‘There wasn’t the talent that needed to be there’

Sal Sunseri talks with linebacker Herman Lathers (KNS photo by Adam Brimer)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — You could say that former Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri has landed on his feet.

Sunseri, now a defensive ends coach at Florida State, will be gunning for his third BCS national title in the last four years.

The other year, of course, was a miserable 2012 season at Tennessee. The Vols’ defense was historically bad and coach Derek Dooley and his staff were fired after the 5-7 season.

“Going to Tennessee was interesting,” Sunseri told’s Michael Casagrande before FSU plays Auburn in the BCS title game in Pasadena, Calif. “You got up there and it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be just because it was going to be a lot of hard work. Like anything else, when you go to a place with high expectations, you want to get it done. The people up there treated me extremely well and all that, we just didn’t have enough time to get done what we needed to get done.”

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One of the reasons Tennessee treated Sunseri “extremely well?” He’s still getting a check from UT for roughly $50,000 a month.

Sunseri was lured from Alabama to UT with a three-year contract. When he was formally dismissed in December 2012, Sunseri was still owed $1.84 million through February 2015.

He makes a reported $198,000 at FSU, not including bonuses, but that’s not enough to defray the $800,000 annually owed by UT.