The thought usually was confined to light-hearted banter between friends.
This time Summitt was serious. And DeMoss was listening. As a result, the former Lady Vols assistant coach is back for a second tour of duty. Tennessee officials confirmed the hire Wednesday. DeMoss has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Texas.
Obviously nobody’s kidding around anymore. And the small talk has escalated into something much more substantial.
"I know Pat would like to get a couple more (national championship) banners,’’ DeMoss said. "That’s my primary goal."
There’s a track record for such achievements. DeMoss previously was a UT assistant from 1985 to 2003 and during that time the Lady Vols won six national championships and made 12 NCAA Final Four appearances. She coached the post players and was instrumental in recruiting such top-flight talent as Bridgette Gordon and Chamique Holdsclaw, just to name two.
"I don’t know if we could’ve brought in another coach with the experience Mickie DeMoss has,’’ Summitt said. "She’s always been recognized as one of the best recruiters in the game. Quite honestly, that hasn’t changed."
DeMoss is filling the opening created when Stephanie Glance left last month to become the head coach at Illinois State. With fellow UT assistant Daedra Charles-Furlow dealing with health issues, Glance had been activated as an assistant coach and had assumed the duties of recruiting coordinator. Charles-Furlow will continue in her current role, which precludes on-the-floor coaching.
Summitt commended UT’s administration for "considering every option" in the hiring process, which included Charles-Furlow.
"Everyone was very committed to Daedra and keeping her with an important role with the staff,’’ Summitt said.
Charles-Furlow, who received the Wade Trophy as a UT player, was another player recruited by DeMoss.
"Daedra and I have a very, very strong relationship,’’ DeMoss said. "We haven’t had a chance to talk. I know Pat has talked to her but I’m going to certainly want to sit down and talk to her. I don’t foresee anything that would be uncomfortable with it. ... I certainly want her to stay as involved as she can based on the situation she’s in."
DeMoss said that returning to Tennessee "is like coming home" and added that her first intention is simply to "fit in."
"I’m not going to act like I have all the answers," she said.
Her knack for recruiting likely will be utilized as soon as possible. The Lady Vols are pursuing two Parade All-American post players in 6-foot-3 Elizabeth Williams of Virginia Beach, Va., a first-team selection, and 6-3 Kiah Stokes of Marion, Iowa, a fourth-team honoree. Both players will be seniors next season.
The Lady Vols already have 6-foot-2 wing player Cierra Burdick of Matthews, N.C., a third-team Parade honoree, verbally committed to sign next fall.
DeMoss will have a coaching impact, too. She left UT in 2003 to become the head coach at Kentucky and was 71-56 in four seasons there before resigning. She directed the Wildcats to consecutive 20-victory seasons (2005-07) for the first time in 16 years. A 66-63 win over Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2006, was Kentucky’s first victory over UT since 1986. The Wildcats qualified that season for the NCAA tournament.
Texas coach Gail Goestenkors acknowledged DeMoss’ role in helping her build a foundation there. Goestenkors also realized the pull of another UT.
"We understand her desire to return home at this stage in her career,’’ she said in a statement, "and Tennessee is where she considers home after previously spending 18 years of her coaching career in Knoxville. We wish her the very best."