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Butch Jones: The Choice to Conduct Yet Another Rebuild at Tennessee

This morning, the University of Tennessee announced that Butch Jones, the University of Cincinnati’s head man for the past three seasons, is the choice of Dave Hart.

As of the time of the announcement, Jones was not the choice of the majority of the Vol Nation.

Even with the lucrative price tag of $18 million over six years, he likely wasn’t Tennessee’s first choice, or second choice, or third choice. He likely wasn’t in the top twenty of desired candidates for the vast majority of fans.

But, regardless of the secrecy of the actual process, executed priorities, and actual timeline of the search, Butch Jones is now the head coach of the Vols.

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The Dave Hart Show

Today at 2:00pm EST, Tennessee AD Dave Hart took to the microphone. Then with his words, during an introductory statement and followup answers to questions from the media, Mr. Hart made it clear that he is his own man and is in control of the current coaching situation.

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Dooley Fired

After last night’s disaster, the only surprise is that nobody knew at what time this would be announced.

An official announcement was released by the university this morning after 11:00 am EST.

Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart released this statement:

Derek and I met early this morning, and I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football. We will immediately begin the search for the best possible candidate to assume this leadership role.

The university’s statement also indicated that Dooley will not coach this coming Saturday against Kentucky. Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney will be the interim.

A press conference will be held in Knoxville at 2:00pm EST. It is widely reported that Dooley will not be in attendance.

More will be posted later today, including a requiem on last night’s embarrassment.

The Face of Apathy

Apathy.
It is a systemic disease that kills businesses, educational institutions, friendship, families, and practically anything else you can think of.
Here is what apathy looked like in Knoxville on a beautiful autumn afternoon.
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Is the Dye Cast?

Troy Trojans vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 3 November 2012 | 12:00 pm EDT
Neyland Stadium (102,455) | Knoxville, TN | CSN/ESPN3

***

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Mortar Boards and Tassels

What would you guess is the graduation rate for all Tennessee sports (men’s and women’s)? How do you think that stands up to the rest of the Southeastern Conference?

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Rebuilding and Recovery In Knoxville

The public response to the Vols’ loss in Starkville last Saturday at Mississippi State was swift. It was also predictable since that game, before kickoff, was christened a crucial game in the career of head coach Derek Dooley.

I’ve stayed out of the Dooley-Must-Go vs. Dooley-Must-Stay debate, because I think it premature for a number of reasons. Highly entertaining, but premature.

This week, I’ve had the opportunity to take some long drives (for work) accompanied by broadcasts of various talk shows on the two major sports radio stations in Knoxville. A lot of hysteria. Some reasoned discussion. Mostly food for further consideration.

It all made me think about the time that the Tennessee Volunteer football program underwent a full-fledged rebuilding program, how the dark days of the last 2+ years are part of a genuine rebuilding phase requiring more than simply a ‘reloading’ effort, and most importantly how hiring even the best coach in the land to stem the tide of decline is not a sure recipe for a quick recovery.

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Collateral Damage

Deborah (Debbie) Jennings filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the University of Tennessee and Dave Hart, UT’s Athletic Director. Ms. Jennings was the long-time Media Relations Director of the UT Women’s Athletic Department. She was an employee since 1977, became the first Lady Vol Sports Information Director in 1978, and ran the Media Relations Office until 2009 when the men’s and women’s Media Relations Departments were consolidated.

Jennings later resigned under pressure, as recounted in court papers.

But it was recently when the lawsuit gained national attention after Pat Summitt was made part of the legal festivities that the damage to hundreds of thousands of alumni and friends of the University was done.

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A VIEW FROM THE TOP: ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DAVE HART SPEAKS ON THE NEED FOR LEADERSHIP (AND ANSWERS A FEW “BURNING QUESTIONS” FROM TENNESSEE FOOTBALL FANS)

At the Knoxville Quarterback Club this past Monday, University of Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart came “to talk about leadership” with the UT football faithful. I was in attendance for his presentation.

UT Athletic Director Dave Hart

In reflecting on the talk, it seems to me that Dave Hart was consciously trying to distance himself from his predecessor, Mike Hamilton, with not only the emphasis on “leadership” but also the concept of “putting the student-athlete first.” Of course, it remains to be seen whether this will actually take place, or is simply a matter of public relations. If true, it could be a welcome change from the previous athletic director, who seemed to be interested first and foremost with wringing every last penny from fans, contributors to the athletic department, and service providers; with his main focii being the bottom line and then the happiness of the wealthiest contributors.

It also struck me that Hart genuinely enjoyed being among the Tennessee fans; and while coming to the Quarterback Club – and speaking and interacting with this segment of the fanbase – might have been an inconvenience, he never let on that it was anything but a pleasure.

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$1,335,000

Christmas came early on Tuesday as Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton resigned.

However, that was one expensive Christmas present.

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It’s Barbecue Season

Next weekend, I will be in Chicago eating barbecue. Next weekend, Mike Hamilton will be down the road in Indianapolis getting barbecued.

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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.

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I’m Ashamed, Mike Hamilton

Now that I’ve scraped most of the bile out of my mouth left over from New Years Eve’s drubbing, more bile got shoved back in: Alabama plays for the mythical National Championship Thursday night.

But that’s sweet smelling compared to the renal breath that came out of the Athletic Department this week. Read More…

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