Land of the Setting Sun

UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton simply doesn’t have the qualifications for his job.

Fundraising, Hamilton’s arguable strength, is a large part of his responsibility. But so is representing his university with intelligence and forethought.

For a while, Benjamin Franklin didn't know if this sun on the back of his chair was setting or rising. I know how he felt.

Ever since Pearlgate got underway, Hamilton has publically supported the coach he hired to turn around the fortunes of men’s basketball at UT. Even in the face of that additional infraction in the NCAA’s notice of violations – Pearl committed yet another infraction less than a week after he sobbed his way through an apology – Hamilton was going to let the upcoming NCAA process play itself out before deciding on Pearl’s fate.

That is what Hamilton should have said during his recent radio interview.

Instead, Mr Hamilton let the public and the media infer that Pearl was as good as a dead man walking.

To some, that was nothing more than an unfortunate choice of words. But the fact that they were delivered on the eve of Tennessee’s first round game of March Madness was akin to a tsunami taking out reserve fuel tanks of a nuclear powerplant. The ensuing pre-game press conference turned into a meltdown of the Tennessee men’s basketball program.

Of course if Pearl hadn’t tried to cover up his petty crimes with lies, we wouldn’t be talking about how our AD pushed one of his coaches in front of an oncoming train.

Instead, we’ve endured one embarrassment after another. From the cover up, to the self-imposed sanctions and penalties, to Pearl’s non-reporting of yet another infraction, to his refusal to agree to contract language when he had little ethical capital to play with, to the NCAA’s exposure of infractions, to Tennessee’s redactions of rules and actions in the public release of charges, to Hamilton’s seemingly turnabout of unequivocal public support, to the Vols’ second-half implosion of heart and resultant 30-point loss to Michigan on Friday…

It all leads to one thing – we have turned ourselves into an object of national derision. This is not the fault of the press. It is the fault of those running the show of Tennessee’s men’s basketball.

We are a laughingstock because of our own actions.

At least Pearl’s responses to the barrage of questions about his future in light of his boss’ remarks were classy and focused the blame squarely on himself. At least he had the awareness under the hot lights not to appear shallow and thoughtless.

Nonetheless, our program is on the verge of having Sendai being a metaphor for the state of the program.

Hamilton’s self-exposure of his lack of awareness was the final straw in a comic-tragedy not seen in Knoxville at this scale since, oh I don’t know, in about a year or two (think the Fulmer saga, think the Kiffin debacle).

The Tennessee faithful have admirably circled the wagons throughout this mess.

I’m through.

Pearl must go. Then, Hamilton must be taken out behind the barn and given forty lashes. Then we should see what he says, just for fun, before firing him, too.



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3 responses to “Land of the Setting Sun”

  1. Jan Evett says :

    Here, here! I’m not usually for violent beatings, but … oh, go ahead … I think Hamilton deserves it! You already know from past comments I’ve made that I cannot stand our AD…. no love lost for me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all over but the firing.

    I do have to say that Pearl has had tremendous success… but with that came tremendous responsibility to be above reproach – epic fail. I don’t know his son, but I can’t help think what a shame that all of this happened in his senior year. Forget about Pearl’s responsibility as an SEC head coach — he blew it as a daddy, too. Any you all know that’s even worse than lying.

  2. rockytop78 says :

    As of 3:30 p.m. EDT, Bruce Pearl has been terminated as head basketball coach.

    You know my views on Mike Hamilton, and I am awaiting — without much hope, I’m afraid, unless Big Jim Haslam gets involved — Hamilton’s termination as Athletic Director.

  3. bert says :

    well, pearl just got fired and hamilton should be next…in my mind hamilton is
    nothing more than a bean-counter.

    i’d imagine when they fired fulmer hamilton could only think “how do we
    get butts back in the seats”…somehow he came up w/kiffin…nice move.

    hiring pearl was brilliant…but i’d be surprised if that move cannot be
    traced to ernie grunfeld, who was in milwaukee at the time. pearl definitely
    revitalized the men’s program. it’s a shame, and somewhat ironic, that he
    went down due to a cheating/lying scandal.

    i can only hope that his replacement is as enthusiastic and charismatic, but
    also not a cheater.

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