Photo by Wade Payne, AP2011
Dave Hart considers himself to be "competitive to a fault."
That's one of the reasons why the Tennessee vice chancellor of athletics didn't think it'd be appropriate to speak with Derek Dooley or offer the coach a public vote of confidence after the Vols' season-ending loss to Kentucky, the program's first since 1984.
Hart said he needed some time to collect his thoughts, remove the blinders from that particular game and refocus on the big picture.
"Nobody was more upset than the guy you are looking at," Hart said in an interview with the News Sentinel on Thursday, the first day in which he's sat down with reporters since the end of UT's 5-7 football season.
"That particular performance on that particular day was unacceptable. I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Unacceptable. I'm sure Derek feels the same way, the players feel the same. Unacceptable.
"When I've been around that level of disappointment, I don't talk to the coach for at least 24 hours, sometimes 48 hours. I don't have anything good to say. I can't be encouraging at that moment. I'm feeling what a lot of people are feeling at that moment because it hurts, it's embarrassing. You're human."
Hart has since had a number of discussions with Dooley and said he talks with the coach "very often." He said he voiced his opinion on a number of areas of concern, but left the final decisions, including staff changes, up to Dooley.
"I've never done it differently. I'm always honest with coaches and worked hard to develop candid and honest relationships with coaches where you do build a level of trust," Hart said. "I've never told a coach 'You need to get rid of Assistant X or Assistant Y.' I've offered my opinion, coaches have always received that well and oftentimes I've initiated that.
"The coach knows better than I know because he's in the meeting rooms, he's at practice two and a half hours a day, he's in the weight room. But I also try to observe and offer my opinions, but I've never mandated that because at some point in time, it always goes back to people."
For more from Hart's interview, check back later at GoVolsXtra.com or grab a copy of Friday's News Sentinel.
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble