As new Tennessee coach Butch Jones took to the airports, interstates and back roads of the Southeast this week in an effort to visit as many prospects as possible before a looming NCAA dead period, he carried with him a list of names and phone numbers.
His goal: Call trustees, boosters and big supporters to introduce himself.
"He just wanted to reach out and say hello," said Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said Thursday.
Hart said the whirlwind first week has convinced him that Jones really understands the magnitude of his new job and how it transcends the football field.
"The football coach, whether we like it or not and whether he likes it or not, is the face not only of the athletic program, he's the face of the university," Hart said.
Hart spoke to the News Sentinel for about an hour Thursday in his office on the top floor of the Lawson Center on campus. An extended Q&A from the interview will appear in Sunday's newspaper.
Hart said everybody from secretaries to senior administrators have been impressed with Jones' sincerity and willingness to learn their names and strike up conversations.
"He has an approach that's very genuine," Hart said. "It's coming through, and it's been very well received."
Before the search, Hart spoke candidly about the challenges the football program faces as it works to return to the upper tier of the SEC. He said he was frank about those challenges with Jones, but assured him there was a plan in place to "take the weaknesses and make them strengths."
"I know that people don't want to hear this, but just because we made a coaching change doesn't mean we're going stream-roll everybody on our schedule," Hart said. "What it does mean is we have a new beginning. We have a very enthusiastic head coach and staff who want to put their arms around this thing and tackle it.
"And it means we have to help them. We can't give this coach the same short stick that Derek (Dooley) was handed. We can't do that, and we won't do that."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.