John Adams: For now, he's 'Some Guy From Alabama'

John Adams

Tennessee introduced its new athletic director Monday evening. His name is "Some Guy From Alabama."

He wasn't formally introduced that way, though. Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, aka "Some Guy From Florida," called him by his family name, Dave Hart.

And eventually, UT fans might, too. But for now, he's "Some Guy From Alabama."

I know the feeling. When I was hired as a News Sentinel sports columnist in 1987, I was "Some Guy From Alabama."

The identification was somewhat puzzling in that I moved here from Jacksonville, Fla., and I'm a Louisiana native. But most readers didn't know that. They just knew my predecessor was from Alabama. Maybe they thought he changed his name and got a new mug shot for his column.

Dave Hart introduced as UT's Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics - Pt. 1

Twenty-four years later, I'm still asked: "Aren't you from Alabama?"

Hart really is from Alabama, and he's not writing for the local newspaper. He's the face of your athletic department. Some fans won't ever get past that.

The rational thinkers among you would say: "As long as you can do a job, where you're from shouldn't matter."

That's in the real world. This is the SEC.

In the SEC, it's all about where you are from and where you went to school. It's all about "for and against."

This just in: Tennessee is against Alabama.

Cheek said the search committee was only interested in finding the best candidate. It didn't matter to them that Hart played basketball and earned a degree at Alabama, or that he has been helping Alabama AD Mal Moore run the athletic department the last three years.

If Cheek and the search committee didn't consider that Alabama connection, they're naive.

Many fans wanted someone with UT ties for the job. Ties to a rival won't be an acceptable substitute.

Hiring an administrator isn't akin to hiring a football coach. Hiring away a football coach is "sticking it to your rival." Hiring away an rival administrator is "sticking it to your own fans" in some quarters.

Hart knows all about "for and against." His father was a football coach before he became an athletic director. The younger Hart was the athletic director at Florida State when the Florida-FSU rivalry wasn't that far behind Auburn-Alabama.

"I want this to be perfectly clear," he said. "I'm absolutely committed to the University of Tennessee. I wanted to say that early, because I didn't want you to be injured tripping over one another trying to ask the Alabama question.

"I look back to Saturday. Nick Saban is an alum of Kent State. And I didn't see much mercy being shown by Nick at the stadium on Saturday (in Alabama's 48-7 victory over Kent State).

"He's the head coach at Alabama. That's where his loyalty is. That's where his passion lies.

"And this is where my passion is from this night forward."

How's that for reading the situation?

Hart was lavish in his praise of UT's past and present coaches as well as the school's traditions and facilities. Never mind that he inadvertently referred to Cheek as "Witt," as in Alabama president Robert Witt. UT fans can forgive a slip of the tongue easier than they can Alabama roots.

Hart came across as very genuine, a quality that doesn't often come to the surface in such a setting. If he can manage an athletic department as well as he can a news conference, he might even keep NCAA investigators out of town.

He probably could have helped himself with the rabid fringe of UT's fan base if he had burned a houndstooth hat and gone Kiffin on Saban. Or he could have reminded folks what he once said about former Florida coach and longtime UT nemesis Steve Spurrier. Instead, he was complimentary of Spurrier when asked about that quote after the news conference.

Following Florida's 37-13 victory over Florida State in 2001, Spurrier accused Florida State defensive tackle Darnell Dockett of intentionally trying to injure Florida's Earnest Graham.

Hart's response at the time: "It would probably be good if somebody just spanked (Spurrier) and put him to bed and hoped that he wakes up all grown up."

So he's not just "Some Guy From Alabama." He's the guy that said Steve Spurrier needed a spanking.

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.

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Comments » 38

rabidvol1998 writes:

If he wanted to spank Spurrier then he is ok with me.

RoadTrip writes:

He's some guy from Alabama just like Cheek is some guy from Florida. Their loyalty will always be challenged.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know what you consider recent years...I guess that depends on one's age, bu if you are talking the big three sports, Johnny Majors was football coach before Phillip Fulmer. If you are talking all sports, John Trembly, the current swimming coach is UT grad. Depending on the position in the administration, there are several home grown talents in the athletic department in various senior leadership positions.

That said, while it would have been nice to have a UT man or woman running the show, I agree you don't need to have UTK on your college diploma to be a good fit for the job. I'd rather have a competent AD that attended another schoool than an incompetent desk jockey that graduated from UT.

I believe this will prove to be a good hire, but there will always be people looking for the boogey man in closet, or in this case, a red elephant.

FWBVol writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

He's some guy from Alabama just like Cheek is some guy from Florida. Their loyalty will always be challenged.

I understand that his Bama ties will always be an issue with some UT fans. I'm sure some people might still be concerned that if the football team does well this year and Georgia does poorly that Derek Dooley will bolt for Athens.

The bottom line is there is no fixing that mindset. If my math is correct, at best Dave Hart spent five years as an undergrad and grad student at Alabama, and he's spent the last three years on the Alabama staff. That tells me the man has spent at most eight or nine of his 62 years in Tuscaloosa and another 50 plus at other places including East Carolina and FSU.

Yes, some coaches and administrators do return "home" when their alma mater calls, but many others among them Vince Dooley and Les Miles understand that you don't leave a good situation for something that might be what it was when you were younger.

easleychuck writes:

Isn't 24 years of Adams enough?

vut56#231073 writes:

And what did we learn from this fine treatise? That Adams can think like the lowest common denominator among us and add his usual sarcasm as icing on the cake. This is an op-ed columnist; yet, instead of mentioning this guy's credentials ONCE, he pulls out the FSU/AL card. If he can do the job, who cares where he is from; he is ours, now. And, when/if he does a good enough job to be lured elsewhere, he will be "that guy from Tennessee."

Classof72 writes:

What is desired is one whose loyalty is not for sale. A mercenary can do a good job, but how deep is the commitment? UTK chose not to hire David Blackburn. Instead, they hired a 62 year old professional, whose previous contract as AD was not renewed. That is not an enviable record.

In a few years, they get to break in another one. It's an exercise in futility, an enormous waste of money, and shows a lack of vision in failing to reward Blackburn's career of commitment and excellence as a Vol for Life. It's a lost opportunity that may prove very costly. Chancellor Cheek should be held accountable for this decision, but accountability doesn't seem to go with the territory anymore. The new UTK motto seems to be: "Go Vol$: Throw me the money!"

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

I too could use a good spanking!

crimsonviper writes:

in response to ROCKYTOPBRAD:

I too could use a good spanking!

See Can't Stand Saban...He will be thrilled.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Poor David Blackburn, that man needs a chance.

eefor10c writes:

adams,the guy from somewhere, should do just that---go anywhere else but Tennessee.

Bigger_Al writes:

Adams is "Tuscaloosa John" because he goes on Finebaum's radio show and bashes Tennessee, aka "Hanoi Jane" Fonda going on North Vietnamese radio and bashing the USA.

UTKin1992 writes:

Disappointing hire.

U of A is off limits when it comes to coaches/admin/player-transfers.

volsfan74 writes:

Don't know why UT fans are so upset, everyone wanted a proven Ad someone with experience, some one with SEC experience. Well we got him, who could we of hired with AD experience and SEC experience WITHOUT getting someone with ties to another school. I can assure everyone that AD Hart knows where his paycheck is coming from and that is where his loyalty will be. I don't believe he is a secret spy from Alabubba here to drag down our Athletic Dept. I think this was a GREAT HIRE, and will be a key component to reviving the Athletic Dept.

VolzsFan writes:

Some guy from Louisiana got in bed with some guy from Clemson to help bring on the destruction of the UT AD. They embraced some guy from Fresno State/USC to further make us a laughingstock. Now we have amateur hour from Florida running the show with an Alabama guy coming to make $775K and a Coach from Georgia running football and a guy from Purdue running basketball. When Pat Head moves on can we get Geno's second in command? The sooner we purge ourselves of everyone with UT ties the better.....errrrr....or is it?

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

1) I think Hart will probably be a good AD. Many others would have also been good. Those with UT ties would have been good, too - maybe better.

2) How is this playing in Tuscaloosa?

3) Mr. Cheek needs to leave UT. He's next. We need some serious home cooking at my alma mater.

volsfan74 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Some guy from Louisiana got in bed with some guy from Clemson to help bring on the destruction of the UT AD. They embraced some guy from Fresno State/USC to further make us a laughingstock. Now we have amateur hour from Florida running the show with an Alabama guy coming to make $775K and a Coach from Georgia running football and a guy from Purdue running basketball. When Pat Head moves on can we get Geno's second in command? The sooner we purge ourselves of everyone with UT ties the better.....errrrr....or is it?

What a ridiculous post, but I really do not expect anything intelligent to spew from your mouth.

SECProudUT writes:

Actually, I would like to have "Some Guy From Tennessee" Replace a sports writer here at this site, not mentioning your name. I would be all the more happier, to lets say " someone like a Patrick Brown" took over your spot, you know someone that actually covers UT sports and Actually writes articles that have the UT interest at heart. 24 years and you just don't get it...Just saying.

pridebone writes:

Oh my God people. I MIGHT be able to understand feeling shaky about coaches coming from rival schools, but barely. And an Athletics Director?

Please.

AD is like being CEO. Those guys are fiercely loyal to whomever is giving them a paycheck. They will often move from one company to another. It's part of how it works. One of the great benefits that comes from hiring outside your own company is that the new guy brings fresh ideas, so that we don't just do things "the way we've always done it." It brings fresh ideas to the program.

Was Doug Dickey such a bad AD at Tennessee after having coached at Florida? Was he such a bad coach at Florida after having coached at Tennessee? Was he a bad coach at Tennessee after having played at Florida? What did Doug Dickey bring to the table at Tennessee? He brought the T on the helmet, he brought the first checkerboard endzones at UT, he brought the band running through the T, and he brought winning seasons, and SEC championships in '67 and '69.

As AD, he helped Neyland Stadium expand to over 100,000 people, he put grass back down instead of astro turf. Coaches Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer combined for five SEC titles in '85, '89, '90, '97, and '98, and of course one BCS Title.

Thompson-Boling Arena was completed during his tenure. Lindsay-Nelson stadium. The Goodfriend Tennis Center. Need I go on?

I for one am glad that "some guy from Florida" was our coach in the mid to late 60's, and again was our AD from '85 to '02.

And I'll support "Some Guy from Alabama," knowing that Dave Hart will do a great job, and I'm excited about the future of Tennessee Athletics.

king21 writes:

Adams is a baby. I AM a sportswriter, and I would NEVER, EVER, write some of the trash Adams writes. He is a disappointment to UT and the Knoxville area. As for the AD, give him time. What if this is the savior? Who knows. I pray he does things the right way!

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to pridebone:

Oh my God people. I MIGHT be able to understand feeling shaky about coaches coming from rival schools, but barely. And an Athletics Director?

Please.

AD is like being CEO. Those guys are fiercely loyal to whomever is giving them a paycheck. They will often move from one company to another. It's part of how it works. One of the great benefits that comes from hiring outside your own company is that the new guy brings fresh ideas, so that we don't just do things "the way we've always done it." It brings fresh ideas to the program.

Was Doug Dickey such a bad AD at Tennessee after having coached at Florida? Was he such a bad coach at Florida after having coached at Tennessee? Was he a bad coach at Tennessee after having played at Florida? What did Doug Dickey bring to the table at Tennessee? He brought the T on the helmet, he brought the first checkerboard endzones at UT, he brought the band running through the T, and he brought winning seasons, and SEC championships in '67 and '69.

As AD, he helped Neyland Stadium expand to over 100,000 people, he put grass back down instead of astro turf. Coaches Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer combined for five SEC titles in '85, '89, '90, '97, and '98, and of course one BCS Title.

Thompson-Boling Arena was completed during his tenure. Lindsay-Nelson stadium. The Goodfriend Tennis Center. Need I go on?

I for one am glad that "some guy from Florida" was our coach in the mid to late 60's, and again was our AD from '85 to '02.

And I'll support "Some Guy from Alabama," knowing that Dave Hart will do a great job, and I'm excited about the future of Tennessee Athletics.

Well said pridebone; 775k has a way of shaping one's loyalty. If he can bring some of the UA mojo to the table I will eat it up.

dk writes:

You just couldn't wait to start stirring the pot, could you, John?

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

While we're talking about Alabubba, check these outstanding fans out... http://www.waff.com/story/15402052/wi...

OwensboroVol writes:

All of you guys who posted hate for Phillip Fulmer when he showed interest in the AD job, are you happy now. You got you a Crimson Tider!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to pridebone:

Oh my God people. I MIGHT be able to understand feeling shaky about coaches coming from rival schools, but barely. And an Athletics Director?

Please.

AD is like being CEO. Those guys are fiercely loyal to whomever is giving them a paycheck. They will often move from one company to another. It's part of how it works. One of the great benefits that comes from hiring outside your own company is that the new guy brings fresh ideas, so that we don't just do things "the way we've always done it." It brings fresh ideas to the program.

Was Doug Dickey such a bad AD at Tennessee after having coached at Florida? Was he such a bad coach at Florida after having coached at Tennessee? Was he a bad coach at Tennessee after having played at Florida? What did Doug Dickey bring to the table at Tennessee? He brought the T on the helmet, he brought the first checkerboard endzones at UT, he brought the band running through the T, and he brought winning seasons, and SEC championships in '67 and '69.

As AD, he helped Neyland Stadium expand to over 100,000 people, he put grass back down instead of astro turf. Coaches Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer combined for five SEC titles in '85, '89, '90, '97, and '98, and of course one BCS Title.

Thompson-Boling Arena was completed during his tenure. Lindsay-Nelson stadium. The Goodfriend Tennis Center. Need I go on?

I for one am glad that "some guy from Florida" was our coach in the mid to late 60's, and again was our AD from '85 to '02.

And I'll support "Some Guy from Alabama," knowing that Dave Hart will do a great job, and I'm excited about the future of Tennessee Athletics.

^^^THIS^^^

Smokey says nice post and love your screen name..

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

No matter who we would have hired, there are some people that would have not been satisfied with the hire..That's how it is when you hire new coaches or AD's or whatever the case may be, and some will be happy some will not..Some will be hung up on where so and so is from..IMO, as long as he DOES HIS JOB, I don't care if he is from Florida, Alabama, Poly Tech Community College(made that one up trying to make a point)..Some only want Tennessee guys, and there is nothing wrong with that but you can't always have Tennessee guys because sometimes one isn't available or just isn't interested for whatever reason..As someone else said, take off your orange-colored glasses and give Mr.Hart a chance.

Smokey says he is ALL for whoever will do the job the best..

tovolny writes:

Adams, I hope you feel better now that you have had your "woe is me" hissy.

yankintenn#395643 writes:

As an Alabama fan, I was curious how the UT fans reacted to this. Bama fans are legendary about hiring someone with a "Bama connection". They went crazy when Bill Curry was hired from an old rival-G Tech. In the final analysis, it is now all about the $$$ and winning. Hart could be from Mars at this point if the teams win and money is raised.

AncientVol writes:

Adams'article is the most simple-minded drivel I have seen in print. It's at the level of grade school thinking. How that guy could write such childish material and yet be employed by mid-size city newspaper is beyond belief.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Some of the dinosaur fans need to go away.

underthehill writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

He's some guy from Alabama just like Cheek is some guy from Florida. Their loyalty will always be challenged.

John ..you could not be more wrong..he is not going to be some guy from Alabama ..he is going to be the guy Florida State told he was not going to be rehired (fired by my definition of this statement) and if you think any different let's see what ESPN says this Saturday..

underthehill writes:

in response to Classof72:

What is desired is one whose loyalty is not for sale. A mercenary can do a good job, but how deep is the commitment? UTK chose not to hire David Blackburn. Instead, they hired a 62 year old professional, whose previous contract as AD was not renewed. That is not an enviable record.

In a few years, they get to break in another one. It's an exercise in futility, an enormous waste of money, and shows a lack of vision in failing to reward Blackburn's career of commitment and excellence as a Vol for Life. It's a lost opportunity that may prove very costly. Chancellor Cheek should be held accountable for this decision, but accountability doesn't seem to go with the territory anymore. The new UTK motto seems to be: "Go Vol$: Throw me the money!"

We hear constantly that the loyal UT fans are our greatest asset...I take from this situation that our lack of loyalty from the administration is our greatest liability...I get your message..no UT connected person is capable...I refuse to believe this to be true...

underthehill writes:

in response to pridebone:

Oh my God people. I MIGHT be able to understand feeling shaky about coaches coming from rival schools, but barely. And an Athletics Director?

Please.

AD is like being CEO. Those guys are fiercely loyal to whomever is giving them a paycheck. They will often move from one company to another. It's part of how it works. One of the great benefits that comes from hiring outside your own company is that the new guy brings fresh ideas, so that we don't just do things "the way we've always done it." It brings fresh ideas to the program.

Was Doug Dickey such a bad AD at Tennessee after having coached at Florida? Was he such a bad coach at Florida after having coached at Tennessee? Was he a bad coach at Tennessee after having played at Florida? What did Doug Dickey bring to the table at Tennessee? He brought the T on the helmet, he brought the first checkerboard endzones at UT, he brought the band running through the T, and he brought winning seasons, and SEC championships in '67 and '69.

As AD, he helped Neyland Stadium expand to over 100,000 people, he put grass back down instead of astro turf. Coaches Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer combined for five SEC titles in '85, '89, '90, '97, and '98, and of course one BCS Title.

Thompson-Boling Arena was completed during his tenure. Lindsay-Nelson stadium. The Goodfriend Tennis Center. Need I go on?

I for one am glad that "some guy from Florida" was our coach in the mid to late 60's, and again was our AD from '85 to '02.

And I'll support "Some Guy from Alabama," knowing that Dave Hart will do a great job, and I'm excited about the future of Tennessee Athletics.

I don't recall Doug Dickey being told by another school his contract would not be renewed (fired) by another school before he came to UT ...I think we are talking about a different set of circumstances here you seem to be missing...or dismissing..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I don't recall Doug Dickey being told by another school his contract would not be renewed (fired) by another school before he came to UT ...I think we are talking about a different set of circumstances here you seem to be missing...or dismissing..

Just guessing here, but I rather think the powers-that-be did their due diligence on Hart and didn't think there was anything in his work history that caused them to believe he wasn't capable of doing the job here. After all, what was the hurry? The head coaches of all the major sports have been hired in the last year and a half. Despite the predictable gripes of a certain irreducible minimum of fans, no one thinks those coaches are in trouble ALREADY. The NCAA threat is behind us. There may be a dip in finances right now--the economy, buyouts, etc.--but, as the politicians sometimes say, the fundamentals are strong. My point in all this is that if Hart was dishonest or incompetent, there has been enough time to uncover evidence of this, especially since the searchers have probably been looking at him at least since Hamilton walked out the door.

vut56#231073 writes:

in response to Classof72:

What is desired is one whose loyalty is not for sale. A mercenary can do a good job, but how deep is the commitment? UTK chose not to hire David Blackburn. Instead, they hired a 62 year old professional, whose previous contract as AD was not renewed. That is not an enviable record.

In a few years, they get to break in another one. It's an exercise in futility, an enormous waste of money, and shows a lack of vision in failing to reward Blackburn's career of commitment and excellence as a Vol for Life. It's a lost opportunity that may prove very costly. Chancellor Cheek should be held accountable for this decision, but accountability doesn't seem to go with the territory anymore. The new UTK motto seems to be: "Go Vol$: Throw me the money!"

How do we define mercenary? If one hired from another location...then aren't they all? If he/she graduated with honors from UT, and..say..was toiling at Ohio State...and left for UT.. A mercenary?

What more do we want than, 1) do they seem qualified and 2) do they appear capable of doing a good job? After all, no one will ever know the outcome until after the outcome.

gortrtt writes:

Remember - if we accepted only Tennessee-born, Tennessee-bred, and Tennessee-educated folks to coach and to act as AD's, we'd miss out on some excellent candidates, indeed.

Neyland was born in Texas, played at Texas A&M for a year, then at the USMA-West Point. And his first college coaching job was for Army. Mears was born in Ohio, played at Miami-Ohio, and coached at Wittenburg before becoming a Vol. Pearl was born and educated in Massachusetts (Boston College), and coached several places before his arrival in Knoxville.

Shoot, even Pat came from another campus.

Let's give Hart a chance. And let's treat him no differently than we would if he'd graduated from good ol' UT/K. (But, considering he's a 'bama grad, when we're around him we'll just talk slowly and we won't use big words.)

seaplane#216536 writes:

Just don't know why they couldn't find a Tenn alum out there to fit the bill. There's got to be someone out there that has always worn orange that would've made a good AD.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to seaplane#216536:

Just don't know why they couldn't find a Tenn alum out there to fit the bill. There's got to be someone out there that has always worn orange that would've made a good AD.

OK, any ideas? Who's to know that the search committee didn't approach any number of UT-connected people? If there were any who met the expected criteria of success in managing large sports-oriented enterprises, on the premiss that an AD needs to have business experience these days as well as SOME credibility in the sports world, they might have been successful ENOUGH that taking over as UTAD might have been a comedown. When you really get down to examining the the qualifications for an ideal modern-era AD, there just aren't all THAT many people in the whole country who could just step right into an operation like the UTAD and succeed right off the bat. Hart HAS those qualifications. Eliminate the number of qualified people who wouldn't take the job for ANY reason and, if you're lucky, you get who we got.

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