ATLANTA -- Multiple University of Tennessee officials would not confirm Sunday afternoon reports that Tampa Bay Buccaneers associate head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia had accepted a position with UT.
A college or NFL coach since 1983, Bisaccia has spent the past nine seasons with the Bucs. His link to UT surfaced Sunday in an ESPN.com story.
Bisaccia has coached Tampa Bay's special teams since 2002, and former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has called him "as fine a coach as I've ever been around." Bisaccia has been the Bucs' associate head coach since 2008, and he also coached the team's running backs in 2008.
Following a four-year playing career as a defensive back at South Dakota's Yankton College and short stint with the USFL's Philadelphia Stars, the New York native began his coaching career at Wayne State in 1983. He had various roles as a South Carolina assistant from 1989-93, and he spent 1994-98 at Clemson and 1999-2001 at Ole Miss before joining the Bucs. Bisaccia has coached special teams every season at the NFL or Southeastern Conference level since 1989.
Bisaccia could plausibly handle all the duties vacated with the recent departure of UT running backs and special teams coach Eddie Gran, who is now Florida State's associate head coach. He would also, at least temporarily, return Vols first-year head coach Lane Kiffin to his full allotment of assistants.
Kiffin had already spoken with media when the Bisaccia rumors went public Sunday afternoon, and attempts to contact Kiffin weren't immediately successful.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Kiffin, like most people, assumed Florida coach Urban Meyer would stand by his Saturday night decision to leave the Gators after their Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl game. Meyer hadn't yet announced his intention to merely take an "indefinite leave of absence" in hopes of returning to the Gators.
Kiffin reiterated his well wishes to Meyer, whom he's repeatedly feuded with since last December.
"It's a sad story," Kiffin said. "This is a competitive profession, and we wish him the best of luck."
Kiffin said Meyer's comments about his family hit home to a peer who understands the nonstop role of modern college coaching.
"I think it is extremely tough -- especially with how competitive it is nowadays, especially in this conference," Kiffin offered. "That's why it's really on your wife, to have a wife who can handle all of the things that go with it. It's tough to see, because he is a great coach. The conference will miss him, as will all of college football."
Coaching is also a business, though, and Kiffin only slightly side-stepped questions regarding possible plans to pillage Florida's recruiting class.
"I have to be careful how I answer that question," Kiffin said. "But you guys that know us and cover us can probably figure that we have been on the phone a lot already, and we will continue to do that."
VOLS THIS, VOLS THAT
Kiffin said Sunday's practice was only marginally sharper than Saturday's. "We are still rusty," he said. "I would like for us to be more crisp especially on offense," Kiffin said. "We still have a ton of work to do." ...
Freshman tailback Bryce Brown (concussion) wasn't cleared for full contact Sunday, but Kiffin hopes his highly touted prospect will be 100 percent today. Brown said he wasn't concerned about suffering two concussions this season because he'd never had any before enrolling at UT. "I've had some headaches and been a little light-headed, but it's getting better, and it will be gone soon," Brown said. "I moved around a little bit today, and the trainers said I'm really close." ...
Freshman tailback Toney Williams, a Chattanooga native who played high school ball in the Atlanta area, said the rehab process on his surgically-repaired ACL tear finished Saturday. Williams, who enrolled last January and impressed coaches in spring practice, won't play against Virginia Tech but plans to be 100 percent for spring practice. "It's been hard, because I just want to play," Williams said. "You don't feel like a part of the team when you can't play, but I got through it, and I'll be back and better than I was before." ...
Other contacts for Wes Rucker are firstname.lastname@example.org and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.