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Sal Sunseri (born August 1, 1959) is an American college and professional football coach who is the linebackers coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Sunseri played college football for the University of Pittsburgh, where he was an All-American linebacker. Sunseri has produced at least one Pro Bowl player in four of five seasons as defensive line coach, highlighted by Julius Peppers's three consecutive trips to Hawaii from 2004-2006. However, his best work may be in nurturing young players.

Sal Sunseri
Alabama Crimson Tide
Position:Linebackers coach
Personal information
Born: (1959-08-01) August 1, 1959 (age 60)
Career information
High school:Central Catholic
(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Career history
As coach:
Head coaching record
Regular season:NCAA: 0–1 (.000)

Playing careerEdit

Sunseri attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team from 1978 to 1981.[1] After beginning his career as a walk-on,[2] Sunseri was a three-year starter and anchored a defense that led the NCAA in total defense in both 1980 and 1981.[1] During his senior year, he was named a team captain and a consensus first-team All-American.

After graduating, he was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1982 NFL Draft; however, he suffered a career ending knee injury during training camp[1][3] and was given an injury settlement and released from the team.

Coaching careerEdit

Between 1985 and 1992, Sunseri worked as a defensive line and linebacker's coach for his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.[4] After Paul Hackett was fired as the team's head coach during Pittsburgh's 1992 season,[5] Sunseri was promoted as an interim head coach for the final game versus Hawaiʻi[6]—a 36–23 loss for the Panthers.[7]

After having previously worked as the defensive line coach for the NFL's Carolina Panthers for six seasons,[1] Sunseri returned to college football on January 21, 2009, when he was named as the outside linebackers coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.[8][9] Sunseri was a 2011 finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top college football assistant coach. In January 2012, days after winning his second national championship with Alabama, Sunseri left to join Derek Dooley's staff at Tennessee as the defensive coordinator.[10] His tenure at Tennessee was an unmitigated disaster. In 2012, Sunseri’s Tennessee defense yielded nearly 36 points per game, including over 40 points to Vanderbilt. Against Troy University on homecoming, Sunseri’s defense gave up more yards in a single game than any Tennessee team in the history of Neyland Stadium. He was fired along with Derek Dooley following the blowout season ending loss to Vanderbilt.

In December 2012, Sunseri accepted a job as a defensive assistant at Florida State University. Sunseri helped coach Florida State to the 2013 BCS National Championship.[11]

In January 2015, Sunseri accepted the position of linebackers coach with the Oakland Raiders.[12]

After one season serving as the Defensive line coach for the Florida Gators, Sunseri accepted an undisclosed position with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Personal lifeEdit

Sunseri is married to Roxann Sunseri (née Evans), who is a former varsity gymnast at Pittsburgh.[1] The couple has two daughters and two sons. His son, Tino played quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.[13] His younger son, Vinnie, played safety for the San Francisco 49ers.

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Pittsburgh Panthers (Big East Conference) (1992)
1992 Pittsburgh 0–1 0–0 6th
Pittsburgh: 0–1 0–0
Total: 0–1


  1. ^ a b c d e "Sal Sunseri". Carolina Panthers. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  2. ^ "Florida State Seminoles Official Athletic Site". Florida State Seminoles. Archived from the original on May 18, 2014.
  3. ^ Tuma, Gary (May 24, 1983). "Sunseri, Fedell shooting for comeback with Steelers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 10. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  4. ^ Emery, Michael (October 19, 1985). "Coach Sal Sunseri hopes to bring winning ways back to Pitt". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 11. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  5. ^ Wolff, Alexander (December 7, 1992). "Something For Nothing". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "Sunseri named interim coach at Pitt". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 28, 1992. p. C03.
  7. ^ "Pittsburgh Game by Game Results: 1992". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Gantt, Darin (January 20, 2009). "Panthers lose D-line coach Sunseri to Alabama". The Herald. Rock Hill, South Carolina. Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  9. ^ Estes, Gentry (January 21, 2009). "Alabama formally names Sal Sunseri and James Willis as new assistants". Mobile Press-Register. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  10. ^ "Vols Name Sunseri Defensive Coordinator". January 13, 2012.
  11. ^ "Could Sal Sunseri join Florida State as a position coach?". Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Raiders Announce Four Assistant Coaches".
  13. ^ "Tino Sunseri". University of Pittsburgh Athletics. Retrieved February 18, 2009.

External linksEdit