Dave Hart is 'final nail in the whole foundation'

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Dave Hart, right, is presented an Orange shirt by Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek during a news conference Monday at Neyland Stadium to introduce Hart as UT's vice chancellor of athletics.

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2011

Saul Young/News Sentinel Dave Hart, right, is presented an Orange shirt by Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek during a news conference Monday at Neyland Stadium to introduce Hart as UT's vice chancellor of athletics.

The last piece is in place for a new era.

The football coach is in his second season.

There are leaders for both the men's basketball and baseball programs who have yet to coach a game at Tennessee.

Now there's a boss in place for all of them, and when Dave Hart was officially introduced as the athletic director for the Vols on Monday night with a news conference in Neyland Stadium, he peered into the future for the entire department and seemed to like what he saw.

"I think it's exciting," said Hart, who had been executive director of athletics at Alabama since 2008. "You could look down the road in five years and be talking about three of the greatest coaches in the country.

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

"I think you've got three young people who have all the right things that you need to be successful, in terms of their priorities, the way they organize, that they're going to be demanding in a positive way. I think the future can be very, very bright in that regard."

Out of the trio of new coaches, only Derek Dooley has coached a game for the Vols — winning six a year ago with the football program and opening his second season with a victory over Montana on Saturday.

Hart also offered praise for the hires in place to lead the other revenue programs on the men's side, basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and baseball's Dave Serrano. And while he hadn't yet had a chance to meet face-to-face with any of them after accepting the job and before meeting the media, Hart made clear he wouldn't be waiting long to do so.

And collectively, that group is going to be responsible for changing the perception of an athletic department that is recovering from a three-year stretch with three different coaches in football, NCAA violations that led to the firing of Bruce Pearl in basketball and a disastrous four-year stretch without a postseason appearance in baseball.

"It's a big piece, a big nail, but it's the final nail in the whole foundation," Serrano said. "We've had the basketball change, two years ago we had the football change, a baseball change, and now the athletic director. My hope is, all that is done now, let's move forward and get Tennessee athletics back to where it needs to be in all sports.

"We are going to work extremely hard to make him proud in the seat where he sits. I can only speak for my program, but I'm big fans of the other two guys and all the sports here, and we're going to work very hard to make him proud of who he has working for him."

Those aren't the only coaches on staff at UT with whom Hart will be working, particularly since he's going to be overseeing sports on both sides as the formerly separate athletic departments for men and women are merged.

With that in mind, a man who formerly worked with legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden also took time to mention another at his new job, calling the chance to work with women's basketball coach Pat Summitt a "rare opportunity."

But Summitt already is entrenched as an institution at UT, and obviously five more years aren't needed to judge where she stands in the profession. That's not necessarily the case for Dooley, Martin or Serrano — and now they officially know who will be calling the shots as the overhaul of the Vols continues.

"I think it's great for the university so you can push forward," Martin said. "Obviously the fan base, they can settle a little bit from the standpoint that we have somebody. Now I just think as an athletic department we can all move forward.

"The one thing about the University of Tennessee is you have great coaches across the board. That is impressive from a university standpoint. I think (Hart) will do a great job, he'll hit the ground running, get to know everybody from the head coaches to the assistant coaches — and I think everybody will be excited about it."

Based on the enthusiastic review of the coaches he inherited, Hart appears to be at the top of that list.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat

and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 33

GoVols_16 writes:

I hope he doesn't bring the garbage of the Crimson Tide with him. We don't need another AD who is going to ruin the program again.

GerryOP writes:

A new day for our University of Tennessee sports programs is dawning, the days of the ol' boy club are gone. NOW our Vols can move forward.

GoVols_16 writes:

The guarantee of his being in this for the long term is not worth the paper it is written on. Mal Moore scoots & he'll head right back to Tuscaloosa.

Bufforange00 writes:

He is saying all the right things, but can he govern effectively? Time will tell, but I think he is right about Dooley. Not sure yet about Cuonzo.

fairwaysngreens writes:

Ok, look, I know im a younger guy, and my rival is Florida since we whipped up on AL most of my years growing up, but I would hardly call the years Hart was at Alabama "Garbage" GoVols_16. Previous to that sure, but I'd take some of that "garbage" since 2008 at the moment. It includes a National Championship! As for his time at FSU, who do you think called the shots there? They had a coach and AD who ended up sitting at the same desk with the same name plate. I'm convinced if we could get General Neyland himself back and put him in as AD some nobody from nowhere would have something critical to say. We are digging out of a huge hole the previous crowd left. It is what it is, UT is rebuilding.

azorange writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I thought the exact same thing. Then I saw it was the baseball coach who said it. I'm sure he's better at baseball than metaphors...that is a metaphor isn't it? Or an analogy? Either way, I hope it isn't prophetic. Go Vols! Beat Cincy!

Kelly8 writes:

He mentioned Nick Saban by first name only in the press conference, called UT's chancellor the name of Bama's president, and I'm honestly surprised he didn't mention the Bear.

That being said, none of UT's major coaches went to UT, including Pat Summitt. Nick Saban didn't go to Alabama, Derek Dooley went to UVA and then Georgia, Summitt went to Martin, Cuonzo is a Big Ten guy, and Serrano is from California. I don't think that it necessarily matters where a person's allegiance lies, except when it does (see: Kiffin, Lane).

No way Hart leaves UT for any job but Bama. Mal Moore is in his seventies and has basically said that he'll be down there three more years. But if Hart was going to leave, that would be when he does it. Hopefully that's not what happens.

Now that all of the coaches are in place, as well as the AD, it's time to for everyone to accept what we have and try to win in every sport. It would be helpful if Bruce and Hamilton would STFU and leave town though...

Now if we could just run the football.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

Does anyone know exactly what to expect with this guy regarding his personnel decisions? Is he a bean counter that couldn't find talent at a MENSA conference with a flashlight and a map like Hamilton or is he a guy that knows how to evaluate talent?

Also...very sorry to see AD Cronan go. I know she is planning on retiring and had removed herself as a candidate, but it sure would have been nice if we had fired Hamilton right after Kiffin left and promoted her directly to the office.

primetimevol writes:

What's this phooey about us buying out the Oregon game?

Noogaorange writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

The guarantee of his being in this for the long term is not worth the paper it is written on. Mal Moore scoots & he'll head right back to Tuscaloosa.

I'm afraid you are right. He can say what he wants to know but the bottom line he's a Bama guy and I frankly wouldn't blame him! He's gone if they call him back home!

elitedb writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

The guarantee of his being in this for the long term is not worth the paper it is written on. Mal Moore scoots & he'll head right back to Tuscaloosa.

Certainly not a guarantee when his contract contains a liquidated damage clause. If Hart leaves before August 31, 2017 he owes the University over $431,000 for each year that he leaves early (75% of his remaining salary until the end of his contract). Quite the incentive to serve out his contract.

Classof72 writes:

"...it's the final nail in the(coffin)?"

He was a sitting AD. He was so great at it, he got fired. (That's what non-renewed contract really means.)

Three years of huge money, no major decisions, and he either goes back to Tuscaloosa or retires and buys a beach house next door to Jerry Green (and, maybe, Jimmy Cheek). It's deja vu all over again.

Meanwhile, some university will get long-term leadership from David Blackburn. But, it won't be UTK. Thanks, Gator Cheeks, for providing an elegant pre-retirement for your new best little buddy.

movol77 writes:

in response to Bufforange00:

He is saying all the right things, but can he govern effectively? Time will tell, but I think he is right about Dooley. Not sure yet about Cuonzo.

Nice post.

As for Cuonzo, I'm confident that he will succeed at UT. Having locally watched him turn around Missouri State, that confidence is solid. He is an outstanding coach. He is not an egoist. He is a hard nosed coach but a good hearted man.

volbob writes:

Ah, yeah...Jimmy the Cheek hires a dude from 'Bama. Forget about getting anyone with ties to UT, let's go rob someone from another SEC school. Hopefully the guy at least wears a funny hat...

VOLliven2it writes:

It doesn't feel right but I am no expert. With the BAMA job coming open soon, we might not want to get to comfy. But we do not know that whole story. At least he is not as weasel looking as our former AD. We will see how he does and how long he stays. The feel is this is short term which makes absolutely NO sense when we consider how inept our "Search Committee" has seemed to be at times. So Mr. Hart, welcome to Rocky Top...I think!

orangepeel writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That was my first thought. I believe that Dooley and Cerrano are good potentially great hires. Hart and Counzo are both bad hires in my opinion.

MilitaryBrat writes:

If he does take the Alabama job when it opens, it might be a good thing, Because (Hopefully) UT will be back on track, and be a much more desirable job in three years. Then people will be knocking on our door to come here. And if Cheek is retired also, that would be the icing on the cake.

CoverOrange writes:

Hart is 62. In three years he'll be 65 and retirement eligible. Why would Bama hire a guy then that is going to retire in 3-5 more years? Hart is an 8 year interim hire for UT, he'll retire here. My only expectation for him is that I never hear his name which is a good thing.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Here are some things Hart can address immediately:
1. When a lightning delay is called, don't shut the gates to the stadium, separating parents from their children. Let everyone in, then anyone who wants to can leave.
2. Get that worthless Knoxville Police Dept under control. I heard they arrested some people for simply booing when the gate was closed. When I told a cop I wanted to leave as they were closing the gate, he acted smart to me, gave me a gentle shove and said: "Well, go ahead and leave then." Many of them are smart-aleck white trash, in my opinion.
3. Get rid of those silly ticket scanners. They aren't collecting any useful information by scanning the tickets. If it's so important to scan that bar code, tear the tickets and let some intern scan them on Monday.

KevDVol writes:

in response to GerryOP:

A new day for our University of Tennessee sports programs is dawning, the days of the ol' boy club are gone. NOW our Vols can move forward.

Really! Did we hire Joan Cronan to be AD or another white guy?

GoVols_16 writes:

in response to fairwaysngreens:

Ok, look, I know im a younger guy, and my rival is Florida since we whipped up on AL most of my years growing up, but I would hardly call the years Hart was at Alabama "Garbage" GoVols_16. Previous to that sure, but I'd take some of that "garbage" since 2008 at the moment. It includes a National Championship! As for his time at FSU, who do you think called the shots there? They had a coach and AD who ended up sitting at the same desk with the same name plate. I'm convinced if we could get General Neyland himself back and put him in as AD some nobody from nowhere would have something critical to say. We are digging out of a huge hole the previous crowd left. It is what it is, UT is rebuilding.

I'm talking about the "previous to that 'garbage'." He's an Alabama guy whether he's been there since '08 or 1971 (he's a graduate). My concern is that I don't want TN to get dragged through the mud again. The guy says that this job is about "Passion"--why wasn't he putting his name out there until just recently if this is about "Passion"?

Time will tell if he is sincere, but it sounds just a little too contrived for me.

martinvol34 writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

The guarantee of his being in this for the long term is not worth the paper it is written on. Mal Moore scoots & he'll head right back to Tuscaloosa.

You are one negative nelly dude. I hope that you can one day look into the bright orange sky and be happy. One day at a time, sweet Vols. One day at a time.

Volunatic writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is the first time I don't disagree with you.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Kelly8:

He mentioned Nick Saban by first name only in the press conference, called UT's chancellor the name of Bama's president, and I'm honestly surprised he didn't mention the Bear.

That being said, none of UT's major coaches went to UT, including Pat Summitt. Nick Saban didn't go to Alabama, Derek Dooley went to UVA and then Georgia, Summitt went to Martin, Cuonzo is a Big Ten guy, and Serrano is from California. I don't think that it necessarily matters where a person's allegiance lies, except when it does (see: Kiffin, Lane).

No way Hart leaves UT for any job but Bama. Mal Moore is in his seventies and has basically said that he'll be down there three more years. But if Hart was going to leave, that would be when he does it. Hopefully that's not what happens.

Now that all of the coaches are in place, as well as the AD, it's time to for everyone to accept what we have and try to win in every sport. It would be helpful if Bruce and Hamilton would STFU and leave town though...

Now if we could just run the football.

Pat Summitt went to UT, just not UTK.
Get over your idea that Fulmer and Pearl have to leave town. They are both very well-liked in this area, and it's still a free country the last time I checked.

darbhoo writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

The guarantee of his being in this for the long term is not worth the paper it is written on. Mal Moore scoots & he'll head right back to Tuscaloosa.

I'm thinking that if AlaBubba wanted to keep him until Mal Moore retires, they would have given him a "deal" and assured him of the job.

As it is, he is here and I think he will do the best job he is "allowed" to do. If Cheek gives him the authority he needs, he will do a great job. He has the experience we need and is well aware of the competitiveness of the SEC. Go Vols!!

VOLliven2it writes:

I believe a more appropriate term would have been the "final bolt" in the foundation. I have seldom seen nails in foundations of anything. Bolts, big ones usually help hold together foundations. In any event, our new AD is getting on board. So now let's go win some football games. Got a big one coming up Sat. which will probably really show us where we are. I am hoping we are more than up to the task. GO VOLS!

Southland writes:

he may be great, but why hire a 62 year from bama. Is there not someone out there younger and willing to come to UT and stay for several years? It seems we ran out of options and hired someone that would take the job

GoVols_16 writes:

in response to martinvol34:

You are one negative nelly dude. I hope that you can one day look into the bright orange sky and be happy. One day at a time, sweet Vols. One day at a time.

You couldn't be further from the truth. I am a realist, though.

ksf1957#1371219 writes:

If anyone thinks the AD at UTK actually makes any "real" decisions about the Athletic Department, you're kidding yourselves. Same goes for the university president. The actual decision makers are the big donors, i.e., Haslams, Anderson, etc. No, I mean NO decisions of any import are made unless they give the okay. So the AD job is meaningless, until the $%@& hits the fan. Then those donors hide behind them as scapegoats. No need to sully their reps.

GerryOP writes:

in response to KevDVol:

Really! Did we hire Joan Cronan to be AD or another white guy?

And your point is.... ?

volndawgville writes:

All those with the going back to bama notion in their heads need to think through their comments/opinions a bit. He was exactly what UF's FB coach was at Texas- "a coach in waiting." Hart was an "AD in waiting" at bama, and while he was doing the heavy lifting there, old-old Mal Moore hung on. Moore was probably allowed to do so since he was one of Bear's boys- it certainly wasn't for his competence.

Much like Muschamp (Musgrave or whatever his name is), Hart got tired of waiting and accepted an exceptional opportunity at a university with a tremendous athletic budget, superior facilities, NCAA no-nos behind us, stable largely full of good coaches. bama's 'loyalty to Moore' cost them a fine AD, and a fine man.

I think it is highly unlikely he will return to bama in 3 years as he will be very entrenched in Knox-Vegas, regardless of his calling Nick Saban by his 1st name.... good grief.

Kelly8 writes:

in response to KevDVol:

Really! Did we hire Joan Cronan to be AD or another white guy?

What does it matter what color skin the man has?

You could easily say "well, did we just recruit another black running back?"

This is ignorant trash. Cronan doesn't want the job, by the way. Go back to your cave.

gortrtt writes:

..."he peered into the future for the entire department and seemed to like what he saw."

I believe that what he liked seeing was that "memorandum of understanding ... that will give him $775,000 annually."

He'll probably do well as AD here at UT. Face it - after the Mike Hamilton dog-&-pony show, he'll pretty much be a hero if he doesn't prove to be totally inept.

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