Peter Sirmon, one of the brightest young defensive minds in the country, has been named the defensive coordinator at the University of Louisville, head coach Bobby Petrino announced on Wednesday.
A former standout NFL linebacker, Sirmon joins the Louisville staff after one season at Mississippi State as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
“I’m thrilled to have Peter joining our staff and running our defense,” Petrino said. “Throughout the coaching ranks, he is widely considered one of the brightest young defensive minds in the country and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to have him lead our defense. Sirmon’s attacking style of defense was one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers last year and his ability to get his player to play hard on every play was something that caught my attention. He is a tremendous person and coach, and will be a great addition to our staff.”
Directing a defense that was ravaged by injuries in the secondary, Sirmon played nine freshmen and 11 first-time starters on defense. Despite missing many key starters for the most of the year, Sirmon’s unit forced 23 turnovers, which was nine more than the previous season and totaled 81 tackles for loss, which ranked fifth in the SEC.
“I can’t express enough how thrilled I am to lead the defense at the University of Louisville heading into next season,” Sirmon said. “I have tremendous respect for what Coach Petrino has done with the program during his tenure and what the future holds as we try to attain a goal of winning a national championship.”
“His teams are always well-coached and execute at a high level, which has been evident by all the success this program has enjoyed over the years. There are so many great things happening there and I am humbled to receive such a great opportunity.”
Under Sirmon’s tutelage, linebacker Leo Lewis led all SEC freshmen in tackles (79) and became the first FWAA Freshman All-American in MSU history (since inception of the freshman team in 2001), while defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons led all SEC freshmen defensive line in tackles this season (40) and was a Freshman All-SEC honoree.
Before leading the MSU defense, Sirmon spent two seasons at Southern California as the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach. He was the interim defensive coordinator during the Trojans’ 2015 Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin.
In 2015, Sirmon’s guidance propelled outside linebacker Su’a Cravens to All-Pac-12 first-team honors. Cravens was taken in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, while inside linebacker Cameron Smith was selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in addition to being named a freshman All-American by USA Today.
Smith was second nationally in interceptions by freshmen linebackers with three – all of which came in a 42-24 rout of No. 3 Utah on Oct. 25.
As the recruiting coordinator at USC, Sirmon helped the Trojans bring in the nation’s top signing class in 2015 according to Scout.com and the No. 10 signing class in 2014. USC inked 12 top-100 recruits in the winter of 2015.
Prior to his stint at USC, Sirmon was the linebackers coach at Washington (2012-13), including recruiting coordinator in his final season of 2013.
The Wenatchee, Washington, native coached eventual NFL first round draft choice Shaq Thompson during his All-Pac-12 honorable mention season as a sophomore.
During Sirmon’s first season in Seattle, he mentored sophomore John Timu, an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection and team captain. Timu signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears following the 2015 NFL Draft and was on the active roster during the season.
His first full-time FBS job was as the linebacker coach at Tennessee in 2011. He was a graduate assistant working with safeties during the Vols’ 2010 Music City Bowl campaign.
Entering the coaching ranks for the first time, Sirmon stayed in his home state as the linebackers coach at Central Washington in 2008. The Wildcats earned a top-five ranking in the polls with a 10-2 record and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Sirmon played seven NFL seasons at linebacker with the Tennessee Titans from 2000-06, starting 54 games and registering 343 career tackles, while winning two AFC South divisional titles and making three playoff appearances during his tenure.
Sirmon, who received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Oregon in 1999, was a fourth round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft after a standout career at Oregon. He started all four seasons (1996-99) and was selected to the Senior Bowl. A first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a senior, Sirmon was the squad’s leading tackler in 1997 and 1999.
Sirmon and his wife, Lindsay, have four children: son Jackson and daughters Presley, Savanna and Sadie.