John Adams: Leadership big question for UT in 2012

John Adams

One New Year's Eve wasn't long enough for Tennessee fans to celebrate the end of 2011. They needed at least a week — four days to rejoice and three more to torture 2011 on the way out.

Has any college fan base ever been happier to see the end of a year?

I won't belabor what went wrong. Colleague Mike Strange synopsizes that today in his year-end review.

My question: What's next?

Will 2012 see a foundering sports program reverse its field? Or will you get more of the same?

When you sort through what has gone wrong at UT — not just in 2011, but in recent years — the problems often can be traced to the top of a program, department or even the university.

The lack of good judgment from UT's leaders has been astounding at times. I'm not suggesting my dog could have made better decisions. But my cat? Definitely.

As you look ahead, you can't be certain UT will benefit from better leadership in 2012, although athletic director Dave Hart seemingly would have to commit criminal acts to sink below the Hamilton Line.

Most of the leaders are so new, how can you predict? Hart, basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and baseball coach Dave Serrano haven't been on the job a year. Football coach Derek Dooley just completed his second season.

There are even leadership questions about UT's most successful sport, women's basketball, in that you don't know how long legendary coach Pat

Summitt can continue while battling early-onset dementia.

But leadership starts above coaches.

My take on chancellor Jimmy Cheek is that he could stand on the five thickest agricultural books in the UT library and still be in over his head in the sports arena. The assessment is based mainly on how he mishandled the dismissal of basketball coach Bruce Pearl as well as his media-conference performances. Maybe you have to work with him on a daily basis to appreciate his subtle genius in reshaping the athletic department.

As for Hart, some fans might have a negative impression because he comes from Alabama and was hired by Cheek. Yet they shouldn't question his motivation to succeed.

He left a secure but lower-profile position at his alma mater at 62 to take on a new challenge. Sure, the pay is better. But the opportunity to help revive an athletic department had to be more of an attraction for Hart, whose run as Florida State's AD didn't end well.

No matter how determined he is to leave his mark, he's still just an administrator. The coaches he didn't hire will have more say so in UT's success or failure.

Martin has what Hart doesn't: a tough act to follow. Pearl could promote and coach. It's too early to judge Martin as a coach, but promoting apparently isn't a priority.

If you want to be optimistic about UT men's basketball, then listen to new recruit Jarnell Stokes, who is a promoter.

The Memphis signee chose the Vols over a national field. That's quite a coup for a program that often has had as much chance of coaxing a prize recruit out of Croatia as Memphis.

Landing one big-time recruit from anywhere doesn't guarantee Martin can recruit well enough to succeed at UT. But it's a great start.

Serrano's resume is reason for optimism. He knows the way to the College World Series. His predecessor, Todd Raleigh, couldn't find his way to Hoover, Ala.

UT football seemed headed in the right direction in Dooley's first season. A year later, the program seemed headed for a cliff after two jarring setbacks in November.

The team quit in a 49-7 loss to Arkansas. Then, two weeks later, it seemed disinterested from the outset in a loss to Kentucky.

A turnaround isn't out of the question. Dooley will improve his depth with another recruiting class, the large majority of the starters will return, and the SEC schedule will be easier.

More talent and less schedule won't mean much if the team lacks discipline and motivation. That's where leadership will come into play.

A concerned fan addressed that in an email regarding UT's misadventures of 2011. I assured him 2012 would be better.

He wrote back: "Could it be any worse?"

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

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

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Comments » 76

Razor784 writes:

I'm not sure about Hart yet, he has to be better than Hamilton, but he NEVER had to hire a football coach at FSU and his basketball hires were never successful. I don't think he'll need a basketball coach anytime soon, but i'm guessing by the end of October or the first of November, be's gonna need a football coach

DroopyDrawers writes:

Adams, here you go again.

TommyJack writes:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

jimr07 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

Amen..It stuns me as to how negative toward UT the KNS staff has become..

CityVol1 writes:

in response to Razor784:

I'm not sure about Hart yet, he has to be better than Hamilton, but he NEVER had to hire a football coach at FSU and his basketball hires were never successful. I don't think he'll need a basketball coach anytime soon, but i'm guessing by the end of October or the first of November, be's gonna need a football coach

You are probably right about Hart but the fact is we wont know for sometime if he is the right guy. Fans, boosters and alums need to support the University right now--as lousy as we've been and as natural as it is to be upset what the program needs is stability.

Same thing with Dooley. There is not much to suggest that this guy will be the long term solution at Tennessee but for now he is the guy and we need stability so the cupboard can be restocked. This is Tennessee and expectations should remain that championships will be on the horizon.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to DroopyDrawers:

Adams, here you go again.

Don't blame Adams, a good article and not negative but truthful Just the facts as they are. Being positive, I think the football team will improve and look pretty good in 12. Basketball will take time because Bruce left the pantry empty, but he got good commit to build around.

orangecountyvols writes:

Adams wasn't referring to me ( one who sent him an email commenting on his obvious stance on Tennessee athletics ). When I reminded him of what most readers perceive him to be as a journalist, he replied, in reference to how he closes out his 2011 columns........" I like to finish strong."

Still conclude as writers go, he's a jerk.
BTW, if LSU dooesn't beat Alabama, Adams will be in seclusion..........hopefully for quite a long time.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

Bwahahaha! I read your post and had a mental image of half a dozen chimps trying to have relations with a football.

arkyvol writes:

double d. three and out, i hope.

Voltillyafall writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

One can write a factual article, but its slant still be negative. However, that is NOT the case here. Why must you attack the messenger? The message accurately reflects the state of UT football, basketball, women's basketball, and baseball.

Please feel free to yell loudly for the Vols. I will as well. One can be a fan, but still be able to recognize a program's shortcomings.

If you can't recognize the program's shortcomings, and where improvement needs to be made, how can you ever hope to fill the needs and get better?

Don't answer...that was rhetorical.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Voltillyafall:

One can write a factual article, but its slant still be negative. However, that is NOT the case here. Why must you attack the messenger? The message accurately reflects the state of UT football, basketball, women's basketball, and baseball.

Please feel free to yell loudly for the Vols. I will as well. One can be a fan, but still be able to recognize a program's shortcomings.

If you can't recognize the program's shortcomings, and where improvement needs to be made, how can you ever hope to fill the needs and get better?

Don't answer...that was rhetorical.

Good grief.

Dwinsgames writes:

How long has ND been down, only because they play such a weak schedule inbetween the one or two games they can't win do they have a better record in ther peiod of dispair than UT does in the last four years. And there are several other name schools that have been going throught the same thing, just look at Texas. So what about UT, we will continue to suck until somone makes us what the game has always been about and that is "Team". Unfortunatly I do not see Dooley being able to do that with out better staff and players that grasp that concept especially on the O line. Happy new Year.

sambad writes:

I expect the football Vols to have a good season in 2012.

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

Leadeship?!
KNS don't need no stinkin' leadership!
;>)

rockytopatl writes:

in response to arkyvol:

double d. three and out, i hope.

So you hope the Vols will fail next year? You aren't a Tennessee fan. Go sleep with the Hogs where you belong.

tnfanincali writes:

This article doesn't seem negative to me. Seems fairly factual in fact. As far as the context and responses, it still amazes me that people are surprised at the outcome of the season we had. Was it a good season? Of course not. But my expectations were pretty low to start with, then after losing 2-4 of our best players for most or all of the season I thought getting our young players live game reps was about the best we could do to build depth for next years (and the years to come). I think Hart will make the right decision after he see's the product Dooley puts on the field next year. I think 8-9 wins will be the minimum for Dooley to keep his job. And if he wins that many and we are competitive, I think he will deserve to keep it.

underthehill writes:

The lack of good judgement from UT's leaders has been astounding is a gross understatement..some fans might have a negative view of Hart because he came from bama and was hired by Cheek..you forgot to mention he was run off from Florida State... but this appears to me to be a truthful article and it's about time someone told it "like it is"..

FeelVol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

Yea that's a good one TommyJack!!!

Southland writes:

words you will rarely hear me say or read from me but Adams is on the mark in this article. He usually tries to tick people off to sell papers but he is just being factual in this article and I am sure if for no other reason he would like to cover an exciting sports program which he has not been able to do in football or baseball in several years now

AllforTenn writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What an asinine assessment of Dooley. Do you suffer from depression?

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Look..........we know the situation with the football program. Some hope it will stay this way. And yes, Adams does point out a lot of the problems. However................he is known to dwell on his negative points, and in his subtle way, puts the program down. His tone, whether you ever listen to him, or when you read his columns, eventually both sound exactly the same over the long haul. It is actually a difficult effort for him to say much of anything positive........and when he does so, well............sounds kinda'
fakey to me.

Happy New Year everyone.

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

I have to say although Pat Summitt is a great coach probably one of the best ever men or women but she showed Glen Campbell a lack of respect by not attending the benefit he did for her and Alzheimer Disease which he suffers worse than she does at the present time. I believe I could made my way to the Clayton Center in nearby Maryville earlier in the month if I were her.

UTKin1992 writes:

You are all embarrassments to Tennessee.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

That's gotta be the most negative article to date by KNS!?Hurry up JA and write some more negativity before football season gets here. We wouldn't want any recruit to think this might possibly be a good school or anything positive like that!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

But Why would a KNOXVILLE paper's staff ever point out the good things about UT Knoxville's coaches and their teams? He wanted to diss Coach Summitt but didn't have the guts to push it that far.
New years goals
1. don't read nagative journalists

Oh wait thaat'd leave me out on this site!!???
2. don't read negativity about UTK! oh wait ,,,again

3. Don't read J. Adams
hmmm it's beginning to dawn

manniesghost1903 writes:

Let's hang John Adams to a sour Apple Tree. We'll hang John Adams to sour apple. We'll hang John Adams to a sour apple tree. Our God is Marching On.

Remember John "he who troubles his own house will inherit the wind.'

Dalton writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Bwahahaha! I read your post and had a mental image of half a dozen chimps trying to have relations with a football.

And supplying filth to their hands by usual route and flinging such at their posting board...creating surprisingly vivid abstract art....I'd guess reddish elephants

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

in response to jimr07:

Amen..It stuns me as to how negative toward UT the KNS staff has become..

hey guys what do you expect from Johnboy he aint had nothing positive to say about UT sports since lame kitten left...he's a pee pee poor excuse of a reporter

thevoice writes:

in response to jimr07:

Amen..It stuns me as to how negative toward UT the KNS staff has become..

Unfortunately, there is currently much negativity in the subject about which the KNS writes. Can you find something positive about which to write that will garner the attention of the so called negative columns? J Stokes is the recent bright spot and there was plenty of positive KNS coverage. As for Adams, freedom to read preceded freedom of press/speech. Getting tired of consumers blaming the sports writers when the real problem is the UT program.

I don't like UT's current sports status any less than anyone else, but we are where we are (and with UT's current football personnel, it appears we better get used to it).

thevoice writes:

in response to Southland:

words you will rarely hear me say or read from me but Adams is on the mark in this article. He usually tries to tick people off to sell papers but he is just being factual in this article and I am sure if for no other reason he would like to cover an exciting sports program which he has not been able to do in football or baseball in several years now

+1, and I'm not related to him or employed by the KNS.

manniesghost1903 writes:

Happy New Year. There is good news tonight. Derek Dooley only has 316 days left as the head football coach at UT.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Looks like Packer_Park aka Chickens_Have_Come_Home has a new user name.

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

in response to tnfanincali:

This article doesn't seem negative to me. Seems fairly factual in fact. As far as the context and responses, it still amazes me that people are surprised at the outcome of the season we had. Was it a good season? Of course not. But my expectations were pretty low to start with, then after losing 2-4 of our best players for most or all of the season I thought getting our young players live game reps was about the best we could do to build depth for next years (and the years to come). I think Hart will make the right decision after he see's the product Dooley puts on the field next year. I think 8-9 wins will be the minimum for Dooley to keep his job. And if he wins that many and we are competitive, I think he will deserve to keep it.

Yep!

tomkats3242 writes:

John, why don't you just go away. Your articles are as poor as I have ever read. You need to be banned from the UT campus as you are not a Loyal UT fan as noted by your comments. Come on KNS, Fire this guy.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to UTKin1992:

You are all embarrassments to Tennessee.

Fact is, there's plenty of embarrassment for all - readers & trolls, sports-writers and, last but not least, just about all of the UT sports that matter.

Down_The_Field writes:

Adams attempt to start a cat fight on a slow day. Looks like it's working.

rootin4volz writes:

in response to TommyJack:

What about leadership at KNS Sports Dept.?

My thought exactly.

arkyvol writes:

in response to NachoPappy_76:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

real knee slapper. did you think that up all by yourself?

underthehill writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Fact is, there's plenty of embarrassment for all - readers & trolls, sports-writers and, last but not least, just about all of the UT sports that matter.

I can see where this observation has considerable merit..but this is the first media person I have read or heard that included the administration (Cheek etc) and that is who I blame for the depth of this mess..It seems to me they feel like it is in the best interest of the athletic program to purge any connection to UT's successful history and any UT connected person as an employee..I base my conclusion in part on the hiring of Dave Hart and him bringing 2 of his cronies with him from bama.. what they can do that a UT connected person could not do better..fund raising ..Definitely no.. I strongly believe that if you are a UT grad it should work in your favor ..not against you..

cltvol writes:

mornin,,if noone knew who wrote this article, I think they would agree with it. TJ, you and witchy are among my favorite thought sharers, but I can't see anything JA wrote that I would disagree with.

knoxchatter writes:

in response to jimr07:

Amen..It stuns me as to how negative toward UT the KNS staff has become..

Let's not confuse 'negativity' with 'REALITY'...c'mon, this article is RIGHT ON!! The decline at UT has been happening, and allowed to happen, on the watch of some top dogs at UT for several years. Adams is merely giving a pretty accurate account of where things stand currently. I love the reply by a reader online last week in regards to the 2012 football schedule that said: 'Vols avoid Arkansas and LSU'...to which the reader replied: 'since when does a solid UT Football team EVER worry about avoiding any SEC opponent....'! I totally agree!

cloudodust writes:

Meet the new year, same as the old year on these boards. Oh well...GBO

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In my honest opinion, this must be the most stupid of posts in the history of stupid posts.

Dalton writes:

Even the most optimistic and/or well-wishing Vol fans know that Dooley must show a firm grasp on this program for him to come back in 2013. Win totals would be a small part of that...the Kentucky loss would have been a jolt if they had been helmed by one of their spare QB's but for us to lose to a cobbled together unit headed by a wr who hadn't played the position since HIGH SCHOOL!...In essence our staff was outcoached by RANDY F!@#$&* Sanders....remember him? The legacy promoted from within who took some of the most talented players in Vol history and reduced them to inept bit player....don't make me relive the Troy Fleming ultraback fiasco.....I hope Dooley siezes this and all this angst is remembered fondly as needless hysteria....but we'll revisit this after next season and by then Dave Hart will have enough knowledge...GO VOLS!!!

kwcoach writes:

in response to DroopyDrawers:

Adams, here you go again.

Good article, right on the money. If you think about it 2011 could have been worse. Did anyone feel like we really beat Vandy? They blocked our field goal and another player roughed the kicker. How many times has that bee called in history? We were beyond lucky to even win that one. Yeah it could be worse, we could lose to both of the bottom dwellers!

murrayvol writes:

We're not Penn State.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow! Joined New Year's Eve.

Welcome to the board trollboy....NOT.

Any other screen names in your past we might recognize?

AncientVol writes:

What Adams says is irrelevant. The key problem is that we have not recruited enough high-quality interior D linemen and interior O linemen in recent years. You cannot win in the SEC without strength in the center of the playing field. RE the cave-in vs. Kentucky, the players and assistant coaches share the blame, was not totally Dooley's fault. There's too much pessimism on this board. Go Vols

Navaloranges writes:

in response to kcbigorngX:

In my honest opinion, this must be the most stupid of posts in the history of stupid posts.

Well, that's because this is packer_park's 27th screen name. But don't act like you can tell, you might get another book full of senseless drivel. In his mind he has us all fooled. Don't spoil it for him. Posing and Dooley bashing is obviously all he has in life now that Fulmer's gone. Even reruns of the Phillip Fulmer show can only be watched so many times.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Give me a break packer (jf). Your predictions were no better. Yeah, we ALL know the other names you've posted under. The only person you're kiddiing is yourself. Things will be just fine when Dooley gets HIS players, in HIS system. Keep ignoriing facts and talking out of your arse. It fits you well.

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