John Adams: UT should commit to Warlick as well as Summitt

Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, left, and associate head coach Holly Warlick watch their team in the game against Pepperdine last month at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2011

Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, left, and associate head coach Holly Warlick watch their team in the game against Pepperdine last month at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Holly Warlick, Vicki Baugh talk about Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. — Tennessee's back-to-back road trips from New York to California have played out like a farewell tour. Tonight's game at Stanford shouldn't be any different.

At every venue, opposing fans have gathered with the impassioned anticipation that they're saying goodbye to the greatest coach in the history of women's basketball.

The response has been heartfelt but presumptuous.

When Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, she said she planned to continue coaching. She didn't say for how long.

You might have assumed one season would be all she could manage, given the scary scenarios this disease engenders. But there are too many variables to pinpoint a departure date for UT's celebrated coach.

She loves what she's doing. And she has the discipline and competitive drive to do whatever it takes to continue. So who's to say she can't coach beyond one season?

Her situation is open-ended. The status of her assistants shouldn't be.

UT has made a commitment to Summitt in allowing her to continue coaching under these extraordinary circumstances. It needs to make a commitment to her staff.

I've never been a big fan of "coaches in waiting." But in this case, it would be appropriate.

UT should name associate head coach Holly Warlick as its coach in waiting, making it clear that whenever Summitt steps down, her former point guard and longtime assistant would step up.

In fact, the career assistant already has stepped up.

Summitt is the head coach in name only. You were reminded of that Monday when she missed practice for a scheduled medical consultation.

A Lady Vols practice without Summitt might have been unthinkable just a year ago. Now, it's noteworthy, but hardly stunning — though this is the first practice she has missed.

Fans and media have become accustomed to seeing Warlick in a leadership role. It's evident at courtside during games and in the subsequent media sessions.

"I'm the messenger," she said of her new media responsibilities.

The characterization is typical of how she has minimized her role during the sixth-ranked Lady Vols' 7-2 season.

"I'm handling more media responsibilities than I did in the past," she said. "But honestly, I think our assistant coaches (Mickie DeMoss and Dean Lockwood) are really working well together. We're not doing much more than we have been."

See what I mean.

After a harrowing, come-from-behind victory over Rutgers last week, Warlick said, "I feel like I played."

Think she isn't feeling the pressure?

This is her program, too. And Summitt isn't just her boss. She's her dear friend. Warlick doesn't want to let down either the program or Summitt.

She doesn't even have a contract. Neither does DeMoss nor Lockwood.

"I could be fired tomorrow," Warlick said with a laugh.

Wonder what an agent — if she had one — would think of that. When asked, Warlick laughed again.

She has had head-coaching opportunities but only avidly pursued a couple, most recently one at South Carolina.

"There are just a couple of places I would be willing to leave for," she said. "Pat has given me so much responsibility throughout the years, it's just a hard place for me to leave."

She shouldn't have to.

Warlick said none of the assistant coaches have had any discussions with the UT administration, including new athletic director Dave Hart, about their future status.

"Dave's biggest concern is taking care of Pat Summitt," she said. "And I appreciate that. He's done a great job of doing that."

But he needs to take care of the program, too. And the best way to do that would be to designate Warlick as the coach in waiting.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 87

tomkats3242 writes:

John Adams should be banned from the campus and fired from the news paper. That is the reason a lot of people quit buying the paper is his attitude toward UT and his lack of ability of telling a true story without putting his two cents in it. Last time I will mention his name here or anywhere as long as they let him on campus or he works for the Paper.

voloffaith writes:

I guess that no contract thing has really got the three assistants upset so a class action suit or something like Moshak and company would be in order. Just KIDDING y'all!! Funny how that isn't a problem for them Just shows the comittment to Coach Summitt.

voloffaith writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

John Adams should be banned from the campus and fired from the news paper. That is the reason a lot of people quit buying the paper is his attitude toward UT and his lack of ability of telling a true story without putting his two cents in it. Last time I will mention his name here or anywhere as long as they let him on campus or he works for the Paper.

Are you saying desperate times call for desperate measures?

LiveToRide writes:

Frankly, I think Nikki Caldwell would be a better choice....actually, she's the perfect choice IMO.

formerflgranny writes:

Same ole ja.....and although that is his initials that is not what i meant. He is always trying to stir up trouble.

underthehill writes:

It might be wise for the assistant coaches to reconsider not having a contract and ask for Pat's assistance NOW. The way things are currently going in the Athletic Dept who is to say Hart would not hire the same Search Firm that UT paid big bucks to bring Hart and Dooley to UT if changes have to be made in women's basketball. Have to agree with Adams. Asst. Coaches..let Pat help you while she can.

voloffaith writes:

in response to LiveToRide:

Frankly, I think Nikki Caldwell would be a better choice....actually, she's the perfect choice IMO.

What's the buyout at Baton Rouge? Are we her "DREAM JOB" ? Don't think Holly Warlick has stuck around this long just for the 'Ride'. Nikki is her biker buddette and that could get touchy if the job came to that. I don't think it will and really hope it doesn't. Anyway this is Coach Summitt's job til situation dictates otherwise.

allntl1#565211 writes:

Worse job in the nation. Who in their right mind would want to step into the role of following Coach Summitt. The shadow would be suffocating to stand in.

hootn writes:

Holly is THE choice to follow Pat. Her dedication, passion, and knowledge of the game are superb.

Adams hit the nail on the head again. He upsets people since he won't wear orange colored glasses.

CrankE writes:

If only KNS would take a similar stance on naming a Sports Columnist in wating to replace Adams' sorry behind.

FIRE JOHN ADAMS!

punkin writes:

I don't think we have to worry about this. Pat is the only person in the world that can beat this disease.

Munsterlander writes:

in response to punkin:

I don't think we have to worry about this. Pat is the only person in the world that can beat this disease.

No, she isn't. Sad but true.

wamp52#1393609 writes:

Mr. Adams, Please mind your own business. If there is one section of the UT athletic department that isn't broken and doesn't need fixing, it is Lady Vols Basketball (or Lady Vols athletics as a whole). You've barked up the wrong tree here, sir, and I think this is one issue that you might just get in deep trouble for.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to punkin:

I don't think we have to worry about this. Pat is the only person in the world that can beat this disease.

Unless new meds/treatments are developed quickly, she will go through the progression of the disease like every other person that is unfortunate enough to contract it. Sometimes it goes relatively quickly, sometimes it takes 10+ years. I know because we just buried a family member that had the very same diagnosis 10 years ago. I can honestly say I deeply and passionately hate that disease. We pray for a cure all of the time. We want nobody to experience it as the patient or as a loved one.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Just because Warlick has been a loyal, longtime, and good assistant, it doesn't mean this program should automatically pass to her. IF a coach in waiting should be named, UT should search the entire country to hire the right next coach, then hire him or her and bring them in to the fold to gradually take the reigns as Pat gives up more and more over time. IF that is Warlick, the fine. If not, so be it.

pcorange writes:

Pat ain't dead. She's still the coach. Holly's doing a great job, but she understands the situation and she seems to be fine with it. No reason to replace Pat until she's ready to be replaced.

Rookie2 writes:

Because the "coach in waiting" model has worked so well for other universities. Seems like all that has done in other situations is put added pressure on the coach to move along. Will Muschamp was named coach in waiting at Texas, how'd that work out? Bobby Bowden got forced out for fear the coach in waiting was going to leave. Naming a coach in waiting causes more problems than solutions IMO.

drgoofy#432342 writes:

It appears that Mr. Adams is doing what sportswriters have done in each city where the LadyVols have played this year...writing Pat's obituary. It's a morbid pastime, waiting and watching for Pat to slip up...and slip away.
I agree that Nikki is the better choice for 2 reasons only: head coaching experience and recruiting success.

frblalack writes:

Mr. Adams,

There happen to be three coaches on staff who are qualified to lead the Lady Vols once Coach decides to retire. I don't completely understand your motivation for endorsing Coach Warlick at this point in time. As someone earlier stated, "the coach-in-waiting scenario" hasn't exactly been a resounding success in other programs.

I hope Coach Pat's successor is on her current staff; let's allow Coach Summit the priveledge of choosing a: when she wishes to retire, and b: input into the selection. It's NOT YOUR CALL!

That having been said, I can only wish Coach Pat the very best life has to offer. To even presume to hasten her decision on retirement is an abomination!

I know you're all about selling newspapers; how unfortunate for those who are actual Tennessee fans.

Theo writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I guess that no contract thing has really got the three assistants upset so a class action suit or something like Moshak and company would be in order. Just KIDDING y'all!! Funny how that isn't a problem for them Just shows the comittment to Coach Summitt.

J. Moshak is really under your skin isn't she. Equal pay for equal work. Not exactly a radical idea.

SummerfieldVol writes:

I bet you Pat has a contract. So why shouldn't Holly and the rest of the assisants have a contract? Coach Dooley and his assisants have one and I would bet all the other Head coaches have a contract or agreement.

cfk writes:

wow - so off base its not even funny...i dont think its any secret that the entire program - men and womens- has suffered under this new hire of Hart...i think he would love to get rid of Pat and use that salary savings to build his mens programs...problem when you bring in someone who is so misogynistic....as for Holly replacing Pat?? no way no how would she be the right candidate- if you truly knew the program you would understand why- Adams you are so off base here it simply shows your lack of knowledge of the program- guess not surprising you are a Hart lover- the worst thing to happen to this program was hiring Hart and his cretins and our program is suffering for it across the board- go back to your cave adams and quit pretending to know what you are talking about

Porterhouse writes:

Kellie Harper (formerly Kellie Jolly) will be next coach whenever Coach Summitt decides to step down and not until then.

Mad props to Coach Warlick, but it's time to make our next 30 year choice.

tovolny writes:

John Adams needs to respect the UT administration and let them make the appropriate decisions regarding the situation with Pat Summitt. Why did he even comment on this????... This is NOT a situation where a poor, corrupt, in-confident sports writer should be delving. KNS will eventually be forced to send this mouse of a man back to the swamps.
A poster above commented on John Adams upsetting people because he doesn't wear orange colored glasses. I guess he is one of those who enjoys the irony of being trashed. If JA's negative commentary were true, then I could look at it in a different light. "Hitting the nail on the head" is not relative here. Why do WE keep putting up with ole Long John?????!!!!!He is the "ANTI-VOL."

bmgvirgo#210233 writes:

in response to wamp52#1393609:

Mr. Adams, Please mind your own business. If there is one section of the UT athletic department that isn't broken and doesn't need fixing, it is Lady Vols Basketball (or Lady Vols athletics as a whole). You've barked up the wrong tree here, sir, and I think this is one issue that you might just get in deep trouble for.

There is no such thing as LV athletics being separate from the men anymore. Mr. Hart is now in charge of that and you can expect huge changes.

1volk-nowi-tall writes:

UT should definately not hire a male coach for the women's program. There are so few opportunities for females to have really good paying jobs in sports. The Lady Vols would not be the Lady Vols with a male coach. Holly certainly deserves the job, when the time comes. Kellie Jolley would be an excellant choice if not Holly. Mickie and Dean would work well with either of these two choices. Would hope a Kellie Jolley would not bring along her husband as an assistant. Don't need that. Keeping this program at the top is what this current staff is all about. I would hope that AD Hart would have the same high standards that this staff has had over the years, especially Pat ant Holly. Had also thought about Niki Caldwell as a possibility for some time in the future. Any combination of these names could continue to carry the banner forthe program Pat has built when the time comes. No one knows when that will be and most of us hope it will be years down the road, but many peoplw will continue to speculate about the future of the women's program. It really makes more sense to speculate about this than it does to rail against Dooley and Martin.

CaliVOL2 writes:

Holly would be an excellent choice but she will be loyal to Pat forever. If JA had observed the Lady Vols for any length of time, he would know this. No need to name her as coach in waiting. Offensive all the way around.

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to cfk:

wow - so off base its not even funny...i dont think its any secret that the entire program - men and womens- has suffered under this new hire of Hart...i think he would love to get rid of Pat and use that salary savings to build his mens programs...problem when you bring in someone who is so misogynistic....as for Holly replacing Pat?? no way no how would she be the right candidate- if you truly knew the program you would understand why- Adams you are so off base here it simply shows your lack of knowledge of the program- guess not surprising you are a Hart lover- the worst thing to happen to this program was hiring Hart and his cretins and our program is suffering for it across the board- go back to your cave adams and quit pretending to know what you are talking about

Hart isnt the AD over the lady vols and he wont be making the next hire if this is Pats last year.Cronan makes this hire.

cfk writes:

actually chrisw2967 you are mistaken hart is indeed AD over both programs- they have been united under one ad now with harts hire- joan is done as she wanted to retire - on only as advisor-

wamp52#1393609 writes:

in response to bmgvirgo#210233:

There is no such thing as LV athletics being separate from the men anymore. Mr. Hart is now in charge of that and you can expect huge changes.

I appreciate that you want to promote that you are "in the know". I intentionally did not say anything about the LV athletic department. There certainly are LV athletics. Alive and well. At least for now.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to tomkats3242:

John Adams should be banned from the campus and fired from the news paper. That is the reason a lot of people quit buying the paper is his attitude toward UT and his lack of ability of telling a true story without putting his two cents in it. Last time I will mention his name here or anywhere as long as they let him on campus or he works for the Paper.

"...his lack of ability of telling a true story without putting his two cents in it."

OMG...IT'S AN OPINION PIECE YOU A-HOLE! Stop acting like you just saw some great violation of journalism ethics.

I swear, any time any of you jerks see an article on UT sports that expresses the author's opinion, you don't get up in arms about the point that the writer makes, you cry bloody murder simply because the writer HAS AN OPINION.

If you don't LIKE the opinion that he has, then post a counter argument, but otherwise stop b!tch!ing like a little girl. If you don't like John Adams' opinions, you can start by NOT READING HIS ARTICLES OR OP-EDS and then follow that up by not commenting.

No wonder our program is in the crapper. We have so many backwoods, redneck fans that would rather shove their head in the sand and trust everything to the almighty UT diety and the backdoor, good ol' boy system than actually pay attention to what's going on.

richvol writes:

Adams is totally out of bounds here and needs to butt out. Hart will hire the best candidate to fill Pat's job when she decides to step away and Adams has no say nor is intelligent enough to offer any advice in this situation.

Fall_Creek_Vols writes:

Agree and disagree. Don't like the "Coach in Waiting" tag. Never have. Time was, such deals were made in private and understood among those who needed to understand it. It wasn't anyone else's business. But there is a lot of public $$$ associated with a state university, so it's to be understood why it's a public issue.

I continue to be amazed at the disparity the exists between men's and women's sports...even today. For as far as we've come, we apparently have further to go. Equal pay does not exist for equal work even when equal - or better - results are achieved. Contracts are common for assistant coaches in the men's game. They should be in the women's game, as well. Given the level of success in Knoxville and across the nation, it makes sense that we be the leaders here, too.

Yo, John Adams...I'll bet you could find Joan's phone number somewhere in a UT directory. Why don't you ask her (and those above her) why we can't get this done?

DroopyDrawers writes:

in response to LiveToRide:

Frankly, I think Nikki Caldwell would be a better choice....actually, she's the perfect choice IMO.

I agree! Hire Nikii Cakdwell with the stipulation that UT keeps their Assistant Coaches. Also give Asst. Coahes a raise. Holly is a great Coach, however, I don't think she would as effective as Nikii.

PS John Adams should be fired.

TheTorch writes:

I encourage the readers to stop reading Adams. I have. Just came on to say that. Vote for his removal from KNS with your mouse. Don't click on his articles. Don't comment on them.

nogo writes:

Thats all the university needs is a writer telling them how to run their business.Hamilton isn't there anymore JA.

voloffaith writes:

in response to DroopyDrawers:

I agree! Hire Nikii Cakdwell with the stipulation that UT keeps their Assistant Coaches. Also give Asst. Coahes a raise. Holly is a great Coach, however, I don't think she would as effective as Nikii.

PS John Adams should be fired.

Do you know Holly's age? We are from same high school in k-town and she graduated after me. I'm 58 so she is how young? Degree in '81 from UT so about 53. Heard Kelly Jolly Harper's name thrown in there also. OH BTW Coach Summitt is still there so let's not put her to rest so to speak just yet.......

voloffaith writes:

in response to Theo:

J. Moshak is really under your skin isn't she. Equal pay for equal work. Not exactly a radical idea.

No Theo it isn't and I was pulling a so called attempt at a funny which ewe apparently missed. Cosby show called and wants you back.....

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to CaliVOL2:

Holly would be an excellent choice but she will be loyal to Pat forever. If JA had observed the Lady Vols for any length of time, he would know this. No need to name her as coach in waiting. Offensive all the way around.

Exactly right. Thank you, Cali2

brokebackvol writes:

OK folks, let's not go nuts over this one opinion piece. JA has a point - and that is the sad fact that one day Pat won't be the head coach anymore. Hard to accept or even talk about, since she is still in place and we love her dearly. I'm both touched by the reception she is getting on the road from opposing fans, and repulsed that they are practically shoving her aside when she's not announced this is her final season.

But honestly, while it might seem he is injecting a poison pill into the equation by floating the idea that Holly is the heir apparent and should be named as such, he does have a point. Who will be the one to take over once Pat does indeed call it quits. Will she be allowed to choose her successor for the dynasty she built at UT?

We don't know and neither does Adams.

But it isn't obscene to ask this question, since the woman we adore is not going to beat this disease. We hope and pray for a cure, but we also have to accept the reality of the situation.

The only choice is to name Holly and be done with it, if Pat agrees and Holly wants to be the next Head Coach. It would give the program the continuity that we all want, and Adams is pointing out. That is a critical thing as far as recruiting, and that uncertainty will be used by other schools like UConn, Baylor, etc.

Caldwell, Jolly, etc. would be fine coaches, but first it MUST be offered to Pat's right hand, and that is Holly Warlick. She is the only one who can step into those shoes, and keep it going. She's been there all along.

Happy Holidays Y'all!

jmaples54 writes:

you "fans" who don't like sports columnists writing opinion pieces absolutely crack me up. john adams is merely trying to make people think. he is not anti-tennessee. he's a writer, who dishes up praise, criticism and solutions as objectively as anyone. his responsiblily is to reason, not blind fanatic loyalty. if he offends you, go ahead and whine, curse, threaten to stop reading, or just commit suicide as he continues to write for the kns for years into the future. long live john adams!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

"Basket Case?" The headline on another story about Coach Sunnitt today. Maybe the worst headline ever written....Come on....You're better than this...

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

"...his lack of ability of telling a true story without putting his two cents in it."

OMG...IT'S AN OPINION PIECE YOU A-HOLE! Stop acting like you just saw some great violation of journalism ethics.

I swear, any time any of you jerks see an article on UT sports that expresses the author's opinion, you don't get up in arms about the point that the writer makes, you cry bloody murder simply because the writer HAS AN OPINION.

If you don't LIKE the opinion that he has, then post a counter argument, but otherwise stop b!tch!ing like a little girl. If you don't like John Adams' opinions, you can start by NOT READING HIS ARTICLES OR OP-EDS and then follow that up by not commenting.

No wonder our program is in the crapper. We have so many backwoods, redneck fans that would rather shove their head in the sand and trust everything to the almighty UT diety and the backdoor, good ol' boy system than actually pay attention to what's going on.

Your opines prove you're the Ahole.

Tomkats responded to the opinion by giving his own; JA should be run out of town.

You like Adams cause both of you are from the same ilk. You pretend to be something you are not.

Neither of you ever miss an opportunity to take a slap at UT athletics.

The appropriate words for Maverick and John this Xmas season are very Grinch-like: Stink, Stank, Stunk.

TrouserCough writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

thevoice writes:

There may be some truth to Adams' perspective, however I don't know if it's Holly, Nikki, or someone else. While Pat is of sound mind, she needs to name a successor. No search firm necessary; Pat IS the search firm and what she says will happen. But the mind can play nasty tricks with this disease.

voloffaith writes:

in response to TrouserCough:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Go back to bed and sleep off whatever is bugging ewe. If they are grossly overpaid so is Saban,Miles, and the list goes on. So that premise breaks down real fast and ugly. Totally rude/abusive with your inference of their lifestyle choices also. So by by as will recommend SUGGEST REMOVAL. Oh BTW what do you do for a living? Are you robbing any taxpayers? Sell aproduct?s it overpriced? That would be robbing of sorts as well. Just food for thought......

wagee12 writes:

in response to LiveToRide:

Frankly, I think Nikki Caldwell would be a better choice....actually, she's the perfect choice IMO.

Both Nikki and K. Jolly have head coaching experience and one of them should be the next head coach, not Warlick.

proud2btnvol (Inactive) writes:

I agree with supporting Coach Warlick.

underthehill writes:

in response to thevoice:

There may be some truth to Adams' perspective, however I don't know if it's Holly, Nikki, or someone else. While Pat is of sound mind, she needs to name a successor. No search firm necessary; Pat IS the search firm and what she says will happen. But the mind can play nasty tricks with this disease.

The bottom line for me is..Who do TN Lady Vol fans want to make this choice? Dave Hart and his bama cronies or Pat Summitt?

thevoice writes:

in response to underthehill:

The bottom line for me is..Who do TN Lady Vol fans want to make this choice? Dave Hart and his bama cronies or Pat Summitt?

Only in this case do I believe that Pat deserves the right to name her successor. My guess is Dave knows nothing about women's basketball coaches and would hire a search firm. Pat IS the search firm.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features