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 email@example.com.