KNOXVILLE - A new year is already bringing more of the same for Tennessee's football program: bad news.
This time it's the loss of two key assistant coaches.
Through a football program source, the Times Free Press has confirmed an ESPN report that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon are leaving the Volunteers to join the staff at Washington.
Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian fired his entire defensive staff last week after Washington gave up 67 points in an Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Both Wilcox and Sirmon have West Coast ties. The Vols were 28th nationally in totally defense despite relying on a a handful of first-year players. Sirmon made his mark both on the field, where he groomed freshmen A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt, and on the recruiting trail, where he was responsible for a handful of key defensive recruits.
UT has now lost four assistants since the season-ending loss to Kentucky in November. Coach Derek Dooley hired Jay Graham from South Carolina to coach running backs and replace receivers coach Charlie Baggett last month. Special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Eric Russell left for a similar position at Washington State in December as well.
Now Dooley has a total of three hires to make with the recruiting season heating up. Signing day is February 1.
More on this story as it develops and in Tuesday's Times Free Press.