Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton was convinced he had found the right football coach when he hired Lane Kiffin after the 2008 season. He's even more confident now.
Maybe you don't share that confidence. Maybe you're concerned about a coach creating tsunami-size waves throughout the SEC before he has won his first game.
But Hamilton is influenced more by what he has observed and heard than by all the headlines piling up behind a coach who is shooting from the lip with Steve Spurrier-like speed without bothering to hang 50 points on a rival before opening fire.
Others might consider Kiffin as arrogant. Hamilton likes his confidence.
Others might view Kiffin as a loose cannon. Hamilton sees a man with a plan.
"This is a coach who has a plan, and he's confident in his plan," Hamilton said. "I want a head coach that believes we are gonna be successful. Sometimes, in making sure that message is communicated, there is a certain confidence that needs to be articulated. There's a breaking point of all that, obviously.
"He's very frank. He's not going to give a whole lot of politically correct statements. He will be very frank in how he feels about the program."
We've noticed. We've also noticed that his frankness extends to rival programs, recruits and anyone who impedes his work pace.
Hamilton has noticed something else. He has seen the intensity and work ethic of Kiffin and his staff. And he has seen the transference of that intensity and work ethic to UT's players.
"I've had the benefit of being around this staff," Hamilton said. "I've seen the way they go about their business with intent and purpose. I obviously don't know what it looks like on the football field yet. I do know there is a certain thing toward building a foundation toward achieving success."
Hamilton has witnessed one rebuilding project from the ground up. He saw what coach Bruce Pearl did with a once-foundering basketball program.
"When Bruce got here, he was tough on those kids," Hamilton said. "That team wasn't predicted to do a whole lot, and they went out and won the SEC East."
He's not intimating that Kiffin's team is about to do the same. But he sees similarities in the foundation.
"I'm sure on the front end of it (Kiffin's players) hated (the physical demands of the off-season)," Hamilton said. "But I've seen the kids on the street and talked to them. They believe in what it's doing for them. They believe that it's an important part in helping them to be what they want to be.
"It will be a tougher team."
By the nature of the sport, there's an element of toughness in any college football team. But there are different levels.
Forget the talent differential. UT's teams haven't been as tough as Florida coach Urban Meyer's teams.
It's not just a matter of working hard. It's a matter of competing every day in conditioning, practices, scrimmages and games. It's a matter of players being more accountable on and off the field.
It's the head coach's job to set the standards for competitiveness, discipline and accountability. Hamilton believes Kiffin will do that.
"Discipline is an issue in any program," Hamilton said. "If you have discipline off the field, you have discipline on the field.
"I wanted to make sure that was a priority for a coach."
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.