Adams: At UT, hot hire or a hot seat

John Adams
Mike Hamilton

Mike Hamilton

The SEC football media days won't begin until Wednesday afternoon, but I already know one of the questions, which likely will be asked of two coaches: "Coach (feel free to insert 'Richt' or 'Miles'), do you feel as though you're on the hot seat?"

The question will prompt a response which has become as much of a cliche as the question: "I put so much pressure on myself, external pressure doesn't concern me."

As hackneyed as hot-seat questions have become for coaches, they're basically unheard of anywhere else.

After bending your fork on an inedible steak, do you ask your waitress if the restaurant chef is on the hot seat? If the carburetor becomes unattached as you drive away from a routine check-up, do you ask customer service if any of the mechanics are on the hot seat?

With one exception, the term usually applies only to coaches. It also applicable for someone who hires coaches. Take Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, for example.

If new coach Derek Dooley takes a football program that's teetering on a cliff and drives it over the edge, could the man who hired him and his here-today, goon-tomorrow predecessor, Lane Kiffin, hold his job as athletic director?

Certainly, there would be an outcry, the most shrill of which would emanate from supporters of the man who sent the program hurtling in the wrong direction in the first place. For those of you clinging to the fantasy of former football coach Phillip Fulmer returning as athletic director, why not extend it to include Dave Clawson coming back as head coach and offensive coordinator? You could complete the trifecta by blowing up Neyland Stadium.

A Dooley (Derek or Vince) has a better shot than Fulmer of becoming UT's next athletic director.

So let's get back to the current athletic director, who, if not on the hot seat, is in the same room as a warm chair. Such rising temperature is unavoidable when a portion of your fan base can rationalize burning down the house of your most high-profile hire.

But as bad as the Kiffin hire looked during his Southern California getaway on a sizzling January night in East Tennessee, I would be the last one to condemn his hiring.

Don't forget the stagnant state of UT football when Hamilton took a chance on a young coach who had been fired by the Oakland Raiders. Sure, it was a risky hire. But risky business was necessary in trying to revive a program that was going downhill on snooze control.

Kiffin recruited big-time players, used the competition for punch lines, resurrected the career of quarterback Jonathan Crompton, came within inches of upsetting the best team in the country and won seven games.

And consider all that had to happen for Kiffin to leave UT after one year to become the coach at Southern California. The NCAA, whose investigative force has been docile for years, suddenly had to bare its teeth and sink them into one of its marquee programs; former USC coach Pete Carroll had to feel threatened enough to bolt for the NFL; and other coaches had to turn down one of the top-five jobs in the country.

Any administrator who could have foreseen that scenario should be running our country or at least starring in his own reality show.

Even with the advantage of hindsight, Hamilton didn't change his approach. He took another chance by hiring a young coach with a losing record at Louisiana Tech.

I was on board with that, too, particularly since college football's big four - Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Mack Brown and Bob Stoops - didn't apply, and UT didn't seem interested in throwing millions Bobby Petrino's way in hopes that he was growing restless after a couple of years at Arkansas.

Although Dooley has yet to weather his first SEC media days, much less win a game, my guess is fans are feeling more comfortable with the hire than they were before his first press conference.

Dooley has proved resourceful in finishing off a top-10 recruiting class that Kiffin started, and in subsequent summer player additions with the intent of shoring up a shorthanded team, which will be hard-pressed to win as many games as it loses - through no fault of the new coach.

Dooley also has done something Kiffin didn't. He has confronted a myriad of peripheral issues which have a bearing on his program.

Most of all, he has demonstrated the enthusiasm, energy and confidence necessary for the huge challenge ahead. That doesn't offer the security that a victory over Alabama or Florida would, but it should provide a temporary cushion for the athletic director's chair.

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 92

RJ_Vol writes:

I sense a soft spot in John's heart for Coach Fulmer. Article kind of rambled from Richt to Miles to Kiffin to Fulmer to Dooley to Hamilton. Yawner.

Pullingguard writes:

Vol fans will have little patience for sub-par performance and that will equate to empty seats at Neyland..Empty seats bring lot of pressure on Hamilton, who, if the record is not a winning one over 2/3 years will end up cutting ticket prices as some colleges have done this season..
Improved football will result through recruiting
outstanding players, and so far that has not happened with committments for 2011 class. Your reference to a warm seat for Hamilton will start getting really hot after the 2011 season for patience is not related to most Vol fans.

volsoutwest writes:

Now John, was that a play on words: here-today, goon-tomorrow, or did you just get lucky oon that oone?

newtonrail writes:

I know Adams is going to kick Fulmer, and I'm good with that to a point. However Dave Clawson wasn't that bad before or since. We'll never know all the dynamics that happened in that staff.

murrayvol writes:

in response to newtonrail:

I know Adams is going to kick Fulmer, and I'm good with that to a point. However Dave Clawson wasn't that bad before or since. We'll never know all the dynamics that happened in that staff.

Probably not newton, but it's safe to say there was a bunch of em.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Agent_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

John appears to think that is exactly what Hamilton has done. And just maybe added a new high speed Passing gear.

murrayvol writes:

John, I have a question for Urban.

Does he expect to feel the heat when his troops get torched by Bama this year.....twice.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to murrayvol:

John, I have a question for Urban.

Does he expect to feel the heat when his troops get torched by Bama this year.....twice.

Now. Now. You seem to think Fl will win the sec e. Lets see Fl get passed the OLD Ball Coach this year. It just maybe USC's time to howl. SS is a great coach and he has some players this year. I also like SS better than I do UM

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Vol fans will have little patience for sub-par performance and that will equate to empty seats at Neyland..Empty seats bring lot of pressure on Hamilton, who, if the record is not a winning one over 2/3 years will end up cutting ticket prices as some colleges have done this season..
Improved football will result through recruiting
outstanding players, and so far that has not happened with committments for 2011 class. Your reference to a warm seat for Hamilton will start getting really hot after the 2011 season for patience is not related to most Vol fans.

I agree. I think he gets a semi pass for next season, barring he doesnt lose more than 6 games. But by 2011 fans will be expecting more wins . If he doesnt have UT back competing for the SEC in 2012 both Hamilton and Dooley will be in trouble.

nocleats writes:

Just win baby!

dvols writes:

adams is our finebaum? who pays these guys to stur up phooey? us?

richvol writes:

I agree with Adams on one thing...Fulmer will never be AD. He's not qualified.

Hamilton is starting to be on thin ice however ever since the Kiffin fiasco and the poor hire of Raleigh as baseball coach. Now I read that two potential starters have left the baseball team over their dislike of Raleigh. The team performed bad enough...now we have players leaving? I hope the baseball team improves but the men's track program has gone to heck too and UT was a national power recently and has been a traditional power for decades. What gives with that?

Ticket prices are way too high and having to pay big donations for the priveledge to buy them is even more ridiculous.

tsaecesnitsebhtruof writes:

Adams is quick to mention the "chances" that Hammy took when hiring Kiffin and Dooley but he failed to mention that both hires were 4th or 5th choices at best. This (UT) is not a dream job by any means. It MIGHT be the 6th best head coaching job in the SEC. Dooley will win enough games to continue the mediocrity that is UT Football.

d.hippie_1960#1386500 writes:

in response to tsaecesnitsebhtruof:

Adams is quick to mention the "chances" that Hammy took when hiring Kiffin and Dooley but he failed to mention that both hires were 4th or 5th choices at best. This (UT) is not a dream job by any means. It MIGHT be the 6th best head coaching job in the SEC. Dooley will win enough games to continue the mediocrity that is UT Football.

Very true! What do we expect when you La. Tech's head coach?

TKO writes:

Considering the fiasco in Knoxville, Coach Dooley took more of a risk than Hamilton.

Classof72 writes:

Kiffin ran off three times as many athletes as he recruited. His legacy will haunt Hamilton for years. Adams could have made a better hire. A guy got paid to hire Lane Kiffin?

CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Now. Now. You seem to think Fl will win the sec e. Lets see Fl get passed the OLD Ball Coach this year. It just maybe USC's time to howl. SS is a great coach and he has some players this year. I also like SS better than I do UM

I don't like UM or SS and it has nothing to do with their win/loss record. In fact the chicken fans couldn't stand SS until he was hired in Columbia.

I have to agree with Corso, who said that 'c0cks will never win even with SS. They don't have the talent to beat UGa, UF, UT and their western division oppenents like LSU,'Bama and Ole Miss. The SEC invited them in as a way to get a championship game and didn't want a team that could beat the traditional powers. They picked the right team for that.

pinevol writes:

I never in my fifty years thought I would see UT win a national title. Coach Fulmer pulled it off somehow. He is an even better man than coach. I have to wonder what contribution John Adams has ever really made to Tennessee football. Just another snarky sports writer who never had the balls to stand on the sideline himself.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to volsoutwest:

Now John, was that a play on words: here-today, goon-tomorrow, or did you just get lucky oon that oone?

LOL!

posivol writes:

in response to pinevol:

I never in my fifty years thought I would see UT win a national title. Coach Fulmer pulled it off somehow. He is an even better man than coach. I have to wonder what contribution John Adams has ever really made to Tennessee football. Just another snarky sports writer who never had the balls to stand on the sideline himself.

now thats just funny as well as being true :)

jzt writes:

Much rambling about topics that we are all very aware of.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to pinevol:

I never in my fifty years thought I would see UT win a national title. Coach Fulmer pulled it off somehow. He is an even better man than coach. I have to wonder what contribution John Adams has ever really made to Tennessee football. Just another snarky sports writer who never had the balls to stand on the sideline himself.

What contribution has mr admams made to anything?

gnm53108 writes:

in response to pinevol:

I never in my fifty years thought I would see UT win a national title. Coach Fulmer pulled it off somehow. He is an even better man than coach. I have to wonder what contribution John Adams has ever really made to Tennessee football. Just another snarky sports writer who never had the balls to stand on the sideline himself.

Oh...And I agree with your comments about Coach Fulmer.

Great coach...just let friendship/loyalties get in the way of winning football games.But at the end of the day when your worst trait is that you are too loyal...well that aint too bad.

golfballs03 writes:

Good perspective, John.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks Bob.

Looks like some kids just having some fun.If I was sentenced to south bend I would do ALOT of drinking.

Oh and #&*^ notre *^%$*& dame!

arkyvol writes:

hamilton got lucky once with bruce pearl. ever since, its been downhill. take baseball for instance--please!. when the throne of vol athletics came open (twice in the last three years), hamilton did squat. the feelers to the name candidates got the kind of reaction you'd expect that a louisville or memphis would have gotten. i still haven't figured out why so many vol fans consider kiffen's defection the ultimate treason. my thought is that he's u.s.c.'s problem now. what bothers me is that the con artist has been replaced by someone with the slenderist credentials since...well, lane kiffen.

i hope for the best with dooley, but my point is that a school with the pedigree of tennessee shouldn't have to fill an inside straight with its coaching hires. blame that squarely on hamilton. he needs to go.

Brillovol writes:

I've had enough of Adams mentioning Fulmer in a negative light. Sure, he got fat and happy (figuratively speaking), but it's no reason to beat a dead horse. I'd hate to hear what he says about JoePa and Bobby Bowden. As a rebuttal, every time I see him downgrade Fulmer I will reply:

1998 National Champions.

VOLliven2it writes:

I remind us all the jury is still out on Dooley. This hi-tech sound off twitterdependent society keeps speculating and spiculating, criticizing, mesmerizing and on and on BEFORE a game has been played. Trolls and skeptics, hold your peace a few more weeks UNTIL we see that the Vols of 2010 cannot play or compete. I just want to see some football and less outspewing of comments which may or may not be so. GO BIG ORANGE!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

I remind us all the jury is still out on Dooley. This hi-tech sound off twitterdependent society keeps speculating and spiculating, criticizing, mesmerizing and on and on BEFORE a game has been played. Trolls and skeptics, hold your peace a few more weeks UNTIL we see that the Vols of 2010 cannot play or compete. I just want to see some football and less outspewing of comments which may or may not be so. GO BIG ORANGE!

I'm with ya on wanting to see some football but making comments about the upcoming season,state of vol-ball,coaches,ect is what the comment section of this site is all about.

It keeps SOME of us sane thru the doldrums.

d_ray writes:

I was a Fulmer fan when he was hungry to win a national championship. He was an unstoppable force. Then something changed. He got complacent. He still had terrific recruiting, but he seemed to stop coaching. He gained 50 or 60 lbs. and just tread water. By the time he was terminated, no other school wanted him. They had watched him sit around and do very little, despite tons of talent. It was time for Fulmer to go and it is time for us to look to the future. We have another hungry coach who has a lot to prove.

OTPVol writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Now. Now. You seem to think Fl will win the sec e. Lets see Fl get passed the OLD Ball Coach this year. It just maybe USC's time to howl. SS is a great coach and he has some players this year. I also like SS better than I do UM

That's like trying to decide which STD you'd rather catch.

PHAT_VOL writes:

Firing coach Delmonico was a mistake and hiring Kiffen was also. Hiring coach Pearl was a good hire but how much did Ernie Grunfeld have to do with that? Hamilton feel for Kiffens pitch and now we all have to live with that dicision. Coach Dooley is a good man and if given enough time could be O.K. The Vol Nation dose not like doing with second best. After all The University of Tennessee has the best of everything when it comes to athletics except maybe the athletic director himself.

GO VOLS

gnm53108 writes:

in response to OTPVol:

That's like trying to decide which STD you'd rather catch.

Hahaha

TNVol72 writes:

"Can't we all be friends?"

d_ray writes:

VolnotHAMILTONfan .... what are smoking so early in the morning? Fulmer for AD? I agree that qualifications for the job are not that high, but not that low either.

volfan#207874 writes:

in response to posivol:

now thats just funny as well as being true :)

How many would concur that it is John Adams who is sitting on the hot seat? Such drivel as he pens is ridiculous! If I were the managing editor of KNS, John-boy would be on the road before sunset.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to richvol:

I agree with Adams on one thing...Fulmer will never be AD. He's not qualified.

Hamilton is starting to be on thin ice however ever since the Kiffin fiasco and the poor hire of Raleigh as baseball coach. Now I read that two potential starters have left the baseball team over their dislike of Raleigh. The team performed bad enough...now we have players leaving? I hope the baseball team improves but the men's track program has gone to heck too and UT was a national power recently and has been a traditional power for decades. What gives with that?

Ticket prices are way too high and having to pay big donations for the priveledge to buy them is even more ridiculous.

Which guys have left the baseball program? I searched both UTsports and GoVolsXtra and found nothing, so enlighten us on where you got that information.

bkgunter writes:

Be honest, Adams. You're the one clinging to Fulmer, and you have a tenuous grip on reality. By any measure, Kiffin left the program worse off than before---less talent, less status, less for hacks like you to write about. But a mere whiff of 'ole Phil, and you're energized to reconcile reality for any Fulmer admirer. You and the other local heroes who had to have Fulmer's pelt on your walls got what you wanted, and now UT is the new Nebraska---at the VERY BEGINNING of a long slog back to relevance. You get to play parasite with every new hire, though, so enjoy!

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to Driving_Ms_Dooley:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Raleigh has signed the 2 Farragut kids that are high school All-Americans....your logic is flawed. Delmonico wanted Florida (particularly Miami) and it showed. He recruited in-state when he couldn't get those from Florida.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Poor poor John. His megalomania that he alone defines and controls the past/present/future of UT football could also be on the hot seat. The money men at KNS are looking at shrinking revenues as we speak, and of all the expendable sad sacks there, John Adams shines like a super nova. Just imagine an unemployed John on the streets. Just imagine Fulmer bumping into John at regular intervals and female dog slapping Adams all over steak house tables and car dealership showrooms. Poor poor John. Imagine him hiring Dave Hooker as a 24/7 body guard.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to Brillovol:

I've had enough of Adams mentioning Fulmer in a negative light. Sure, he got fat and happy (figuratively speaking), but it's no reason to beat a dead horse. I'd hate to hear what he says about JoePa and Bobby Bowden. As a rebuttal, every time I see him downgrade Fulmer I will reply:

1998 National Champions.

I don't think I would push the 1998 championship so much. That year was mostly Cutcliff's doing anyway, and the best Fulmer could do after that was win the East. His complancancy was what got him canned, and if you think it was Hamilton's doing, think again. Big Jim has a lot of money and a lot of power

Volunatic writes:

in response to DC_BackByPopularDemand:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, urban meyer is only doing half as well as you think. He has lost TWO games in the last 28.

TommyJack writes:

Tired of all the shizzola. Let's tee it up.

MrWilson writes:

Mike Hamilton has driven this program into the ground. He does not care about the everyday fan. After 32 years as a season ticket holder I no longer hold season tickets. Our seats had been in the upper deck section RR and with the new club seating they told us we could have 2 seats in section A row 6 and 2 seats in section BB for 18. They said is was impossible to keep 4 seats together for us. I told them they could keep the tickets. It is time for Mike Hamilton to go!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

I don't think I would push the 1998 championship so much. That year was mostly Cutcliff's doing anyway, and the best Fulmer could do after that was win the East. His complancancy was what got him canned, and if you think it was Hamilton's doing, think again. Big Jim has a lot of money and a lot of power

Love coach Cutliffe but our defense was rated MUCH higher in 98 than our offense.

Bigger_Al writes:

Tuscaloosa John will dredge up bitterness for Vol fans until the day he dies.

paradisetaxi writes:

YOUR AN DONKEY REAR END JOHN

ellerbee123 writes:

We HAVE to give Coach Dooley a good chance. Let's not judge him before the first down has been played or on this season. Our boys have been through alot over these past 3 years and Coach Dooley is so much deserving of a chance to breathe life into our football program. Everybody can jump on and off band wagons, but I still blame Phil Fulmer for the current state and he deserved to be fired by Hamilton. He was bored, complacent and that is the one and only reason we find ourself in our current situation. IF there is a current situation. Let's give the guys credit that are there. We have to have faith in their ability to play ball. The cupboards were left bear by Fulmer and will take awhile to restock.......

odtn#267368 writes:

"here-today, goon-tomorrow", that is either a misspelling or a clever double entendre. You decide.

LibertyVolance writes:

FulmerFans
You need to find another school to exploit and run off a cliff. You hate Hamilton because he had the cahoonas to fire Phil. UT is still having to deal with the erosion from Fulmer's corrosive program. Adams is right about the Kiffin hire filling a need to pump some new life into a deflated football program. In retrospect, Kiffin was a bad fit in the SEC and UT. But, Hamilton made a brilliant hire in Derek Dooley. I cannot think of one other coach that I would rather have at this point in time, with the disruptive behavior most recently flaring up among some rogue players on scholarship. Confident that Dooley has dealt and will continue to deal with this issue fairly and appropriately when facts are known, he will institure a new structural foundation we can all be proud of. It will require time and patience, just as it would if Nick Saban walked into this job in mid Jan. But, our positive fans realize this will result in eventual success and give us even more impetus to look forward instead of backward. I sincerely wish that the negative nells of the past could be driven away once and for all. Knowing they cannot, I encourage our positive fans and students to appreciate the good fortune that has befallen us and enjoy the excitement of college football in the air again very soon. There is one life, one passion, one opportunity at this moment in time. Let's roll. Go Vols 2010.

Besides that, I want Coach Majors to personally select any future AD vancancy, if ever it was warranted.

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