Mike Strange: Q&A with UT Vice Chancellor/Athletic Director Dave Hart

Mike Strange
Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart

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Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart

Mike Strange visited with University of Tennessee Vice chancellor/athletic director Dave Hart on a wide range of topics.

Q: Roughly 20 years ago when you were at East Carolina, you had a list of five schools you might be interested in. Why was Tennessee on that list?

A: Because I thought Tennessee had the fundamental ingredients to be a consistent winner on the national scene, with the tradition, history, passion and resources. I wanted to live on the Eastern Seaboard, that region of the country, because I think you also find the passion in that part of the country.

Q: Didn't you once attempt to hire Phillip Fulmer as your football coach (while Fulmer was offensive coordinator at UT)?

A: I did. I interviewed him for about three hours. We were in a search and Phillip had serious interest. But my fear, and I told him this, was I was looking for stability. My fear was Phillip would come and be there a year or two, maybe three at the most, and then leave for greener pastures. He had the opportunity here within that three-year window so that proved to be accurate.

Q: You were on the sideline for one of UT's great moments, the Fiesta Bowl. What was that night like for you over on that Florida State sideline?

A: I have that image of Peerless Price indelibly etched in my mind, going down the sideline, beating Mario Edwards, who was a heck of a player and played a lot of years in the NFL. That was the difference in the game. It was a great game. What I remember about that trip was the two fan bases getting along so well. There seemed to be a genuine level of respect between the fan bases, because when you're in Phoenix for a week you have a lot of opportunities to intermingle. That was a really positive experience.

Q: When you came here in September, you said you were aware there were wounds for a number of reasons. Here we are in May. Have those wounds been healed at all or did football make them worse?

A: Fair question. Football certainly didn't make them worse. Football was all about the Kentucky performance, not so much about the season in total. I think we are beginning to heal, I do. I think we have a direction. That was a major component in the healing process, It was incumbent on us as an athletic leadership team, administratively, to develop a direction. I think we've done that. I've enjoyed being out on the Caravan. That's a fair litmus test to where our people are and I think they're excited. I think they very much are looking forward to the fall and I'm certainly looking forward to the fall.

Q: To what extent are those wounds affecting donations and season-ticket renewals?

A: Not as much as you might think. I think what I was referencing was the four-or five-year run that has been so very difficult. And I've stopped talking about it because our focus is forward and not in reverse. I think if the good Lord had wanted you to worry about what happened yesterday he'd put eyes in the back of your head. So we're focused on moving forward, but we also understand what got us here. I think you have to have an appreciation for that as you do move forward. So I don't think really it's anything more than just what I articulated.

Q: You're fresh from the Big Orange Caravan. What did you take away from that?

A: It's just a verification of what I already knew in the sense of that passion i spoke of earlier. We are so fortunate to have the fan base that we enjoy here. Because they are passionate, they are loyal, they love this university, they bleed orange and white. For us to have two of the biggest venues in college athletics with Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling, and to see the atmospheres created in those venues by our fan base, it'll give you chill bumps. I don't think anybody else can enjoy what we have here with 21,000 for basketball and over a hundred thousand for football. That goes back to your very first question. It's a verification of what I thought about the University of Tennessee at that time.

Q: There's a sense that in football things are going to get better this year. Did you pick that up from the Caravan?

A: I did. Our fan base is also very knowledgeable, and all fan bases are not necessarily. I think some of the prongs of the rebuilding that they're very cognizant of include we have coaches who inherited significant rebuilding jobs, including Derek Dooley. It takes some time to find your way through that maze. I'm really impressed with Derek's staff, and I know we had an inordinate amount of turnover with seven new coaches. But at the end of the day, when you look at the staff now, we lost some good coaches and I want to say that because it' a fact, but this group collectively I like their energy. I think we have ratcheted up, clearly, the intensity level, There seems to be a lot more urgency, enthusiasm. I see our players as I go about and to a person, the players have noted those differentials. They're excited about that. I think for that reason and others, our fan base is looking forward to the fall.

I don't think I answered your question about tickets and erosion and we have that. I think that transcends Tennessee. I know it does. That's kind of a common thread around the country. What I always say about that, it goes back to our venues. If you research this, you would find only a handful or so of schools who have a stadium that seats over a hundred thousand. You would have only a handful of schools that can seat over 20,000 in basketball. So even though, clearly, we'd love to have, and that's one of our goals, to get back to capacity crowds in those venues on a regular basis, but when you have do have 90-plus and do have 16-plus in Thompson-Boling, that's a real tribute to our fan base. I don't know if there are more than 10 schools in both basketball and football who can seat more than 12 in basketball and more than 75 in football.

So you have to keep that component in mind. Having said that, we have, like a lot of people, experienced some erosion and we're working hard to upgrade the fan experience. That's a constant. It's like fund-raising, it's perpetual in nature. We always have to have that in mind. How can we make the experience better for the fans who come to Neyland Stadium and come to Thompson-Boling?

Q: How did the football summer camp at Milligan come about? Have you budgeted that?

A: We have. We'll spend more to go there, but it's worth the investment in my judgement. Because I think that Derek's making a very good decision. And that's a one-year situation. We don't have any plans moving forward to go off campus. But I think it makes a lot of sense this year. Because we will have a lot of distractions and they're doing a terrific job on what is going to be a really fantastic facility. And it will elevate us. But we'll have a lot of things going on as we try to make that transition. And personally, not speaking in terms of what Derek may see as the priority benefit from this, but I think one of the benefits with seven new coaches and a new scheme, I just like the fact that our football staff, which is still very new, will have an opportunity in a very controlled environment to begin those preparations for this coming fall. I think there's a benefit in that.

Q: The academic performance last fall has gotten a lot of negative publicity. When you saw those numbers, did you think, '"How can this happen?"

A: No one was pleased. I'll say that first and foremost. By the same token it was a bad semester and when people ask me about it my answer is I'm focused on what's happening in the spring semester, not on what happened five months ago. That's where everyone's focus has been. We're going to have a very good semester.

Q: SEC expansion is affecting the schedules and rivalries. Are you concerned about the Alabama football game or tat maybe you're not going to play Kentucky twice a year?

A: First of all, on the football side, it has been a very constant focus for me to do all that I can to maintain the Tennessee-Alabama football rivalry. I dont think we can allow conference realignment to eliminate tradition. There's not a more traditional game than that football game. You're talking about the General and the Bear, all the great games. When you look at football in the South, and I'm biased, when you define football you're talking about football in the South, that passion, that responsive fan bases and full stadiums. We can't afford to not maintain that rivalry.

In basketball with 14 teams, and we're still working our way through all of this in both sports, hopefully we'll come out of Destin with resolutions for all this. But in basketball, I'm sure everybody around the table would like to maintain some elements of the old schedule and everyone would love to have Kentucky home and home from a ticket standpoint. But for us, because of that rivalry, bordering states and so on, it's an important rivalry. It remains to be seen, though, whether it will be feasible at the end of the day, based on which of the alternatives wins the day. It'll be difficult to keep each component that 14 schools want kept in place. That's going to be a balancing act that some balls might have to hit the floor.

Q: What would be your input as Tennessee athletic director about expanding to nine SEC games in football and to 18 games in basketball to have more contact in the rivalries?

A: I'm in a minority there. We talked about everything. We didn't leave anything off the table. We have very open, good conversations. At the end of the day, the great thing about our league is sometimes people have to forego their personal preference for the betterment of the league as a whole. We're not going to play nine games, at least not initially, and maybe never. I understand why coaches wouldn't like it. I wouldn't either. It's the 5-4 (home-away) that's so very difficult and I totally understand that. Having said that, I hope that we'll keep that on the table for meaningful discussion purposes down the road.

Again, in basketball, same thing at play. Kentucky, as an example, traditionally plays such a strong non-conference schedule. Some of those games are going away. I can understand particularly in some instances where going to 18 would be tough. So if we ever go to 18, it will erode some of those non-conference national spotlight games. But that's where this balancing act becomes difficult. You have to give up something at some point to get where you want to go. The nice thing is, no decisions have been made in that regard, but everything is one the table for discussion.

Q: Aside from the SEC what's your feeling about basketball scheduling. The Lady Vols have played anywhere, anytime. Is that OK, or do you like on-campus games?

A: I do like on-campus games but I think there's a value in the other model. Pat (Summitt) built the best women's basketball program in America and it was very much her philosophy to go play whoever had the courage to play Tennessee. And a lot of people didn't. I think now Holly (Warlick), as she settles in, will have to make some decisions going forward about what her philosophy is going to be, relative to scheduling.

I've always been supportive of what coaches wanted to do, not to the extent to where it waters down too much, because I'm a proponent in football of playing one really good game, preferably against a top-25 team, preferably early in the season, because of the exposure, before you get into the league, even though our conference is significantly tougher, When you play in our league you're in battle every Saturday. There is a balance that has to be struck there. But I always listen to coaches and their desires and their philosophies. To the extent possible, we try to arrive at a palatable landing spot as it concerns scheduling.

Q: The SEC school year is about over. It wasn't a great year for Tennessee. What's your feeling as you review this first year?

A: Our goal is pretty obvious and that is to pursue comprehensive excellence in every sport we have. That's not going to change. We've tweaked our mission statement. That's very much a part of our mission statement. We won't take our foot off that accelerator, because we want to achieve at the top of the SEC pyramid and do likewise nationally. When you achieve at the top of our conference, you're achieving at the top of the national pyramid. So that's our goal. We'll do our part administratively to make sure that we never cut into the fiber of our coaches' opportunity. We're going to insulate them from a facility standpoint and a resource standpoint, and our expectation then is to be successful. I have fundamental standards and expectations from every employee in our department. I've never wavered on those. If we're going to affect positive change in our organization then we have to do so now and stay consistent with that philosophy because now we have a terrific history here. If we're going to prosper in the immediate future and beyond, then we have to affect change now.

Q: In baseball, what positives do you see?

A: Dave Serrano. Dave Serrano is outstanding and he's got a good staff and there is no doubt in mind we will turn the baseball program around. I mentioned earlier, we have coaches who inherited major rebuilding challenges. Football, men's basketball, baseball and even Holly, losing five seniors and only nine players on the roster, not to mention following the greatest coach who ever coached the sport of basketball. So even Holly to a degree has a rebuilding job.

I see it every day. I'm very cognizant of the jobs these coaches are doing and the challenges they are facing. And while we live in a white-water world, microwave society, everybody wants it and they want it right now, there are a lot of variables when you are rebuilding a program that must be taken into account. That's the reality. Because no two situations are ever alike. Dave will turn the program. I said it before the first pitch was ever thrown, and we got off to a pretty good start, but I kept saying to fans who were so excited, "this is great but the reality is Dave faces a significant rebuilding job.'' And that is the reality.

Q: Men's track has had a great tradition here but has declined the past four years. What needs to happen there?

A: We've got to do an assessment, not unlike we do with every sport, of where we are in each of our sports, what our strengths and weaknesses are. And we're holding everybody accountable across the board. There's no one who works in our department who's not going to be held accountable. Coaches know that. Administrators know that. We want positive energy because that's the only way we'll be able to get where we want to go. We need people to approach their tasks with enthusiasm and positive energy. I'm pleased we're much more down the road moving in that direction. So it won't be any different than any other sport. We'll just have to access the strengths and weaknesses and go from there.

Q: When you came in I thought your coaching lineup was set for a while. Are you surprised you've already hired three coaches in less than a year?

A: Yes, in a sense. When you do come in, you invest a lot of time and energy in an assessment period. There are always surprises in any transition. That's just inherent to the nature of the transition. None of them have deterred my enthusiasm or our direction to get where we want to go as an athletics program.

Q: You've done some streamlining. There's a concern in some parts that in doing this some veteran people. like Bud Ford, Debby Jennings and John Painter, have been washed out. The concern is who will be the keepers of the tradition? Who will be the tellers of the tale, of this rich history?

A: There's no concern on my part because that's such a fundamental core element of who we are. My expectation is the entire staff will be very cognizant and that will be a standard staple in how we sell the University of Tennessee. We've set an aggressive and intense focus on getting better. But I don't get into personnel matters because I don't think it's appropriate. But as I said, everyone is being held accountable, to be efficient, to be productive, to move in the same direction and I'm really pleased that I see that happening.

Q: In going forward in that same direction, you still value bringing that tradition with you?

A: Absolutely, we have to. Because, again, that's what we have that a lot of people we compete against maybe don't. That goes back to the conversation about those five schools. We're very fortunate to have a rich history and a rich tradition. Were' moving forward off of that platform.

Q: There's discussion about the criteria for retiring numbers (in football). Is there any thought to revisiting that?

A: Yes. We are in that process. We are revisiting that. But that's one of, gosh, several numerous assessments that we've undertaken. At least twice we've had extensive conversations about that as a leadership team and we'll continue to examine that.

Q: Besides this beautiful football project, what does your facility priority chart look like down the line?

A: We've not taken anything off the table from the original facilities master plan, probably from the last five years is what I'm referencing. Nothing's come off the table, but we've assessed each and every component of that master plan. We've reshuffled the priorities, based on need, immediacy, and what we've tried to do is build a strategic plan. But from a fund-raising, development perspective and an implementation standpoint of what's realistic and what do we need to happen this year and the next three-year window, five years, 10 years, 15 years. We're approaching it from a more systematic tone right now and so we do feel good that we've got our arms around it.

One of the things we also are working diligently on is building a strategic financial plan in those same time frames. Because my concern financially is that we only have $5 million and change in our reserve. We have not done anything to reduce our debt service for all the facilities we do have and we enjoy some outstanding facilities.

I also wanted us to put a major focus, in my mind an urgent focus, on putting the student-athlete at the core of everything we're doing. Give you one example, we're going to address as soon as we can the men's and women's basketball locker rooms. We have the country's best basketball arena, in my opinion, and it's the envy of our peers. And yet when you went to our basketball locker rooms you kind of enter a little bit of a time warp. I'll use Pat's program. When you go in the Lady Vols locker room and you consider that we've won eight national championships, it's not reflective of that. And so what I wanted our staff to do early on was begin assessing where we are by looking at a student-athlete perspective, by looking at where they go every day. Where they live. Where they eat. Where they train. Where they get academic support. Because those are areas are the areas our fans and donors rarely get to see but for those young men and women, for the next four or five years of their lives, that's where they spend all their time.

In some instances we are exceptional in that regard. If you go over and look at soccer and softball, from fan amenities to student-athlete areas, it's absolutely exceptional. but we have other areas where that's not necessarily the case.

And we've got to get football healthy. I've said that many times. Because that's the engine that drives the entire train. That's where the passion core lies. So we've got to recognize where our weaknesses might be. This facility is going a be outstanding. The football facility will take us to another level. But there are other components, if we can prioritize those and tie those to the football training center that will give us an outstanding foundation for many years to come. But there are other components that are missing that we've got to address.

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Comments » 32

MikeInTN writes:

Thanks Mike...great interview!

ncvol17 writes:

Hell of a bureaucrat,Bud Ford= collateral damage

Pullingguard writes:

How did things get so bad at UT..Football, Baseball, Basketball, Track, Swimming, and next
season Womens Basketball will join that group unless a miracle happens... Things just don't happen like this in one years time, it's sorta like rust, it has long time exposure before it shows its real face... Good interview and I do think Hart will demand excellence in all programs.

Londonjohn writes:

I must admit that he seems incredibly cogent and knowledgeable about how to run an organization; granted he took over from someone who had set the bar quite low, but still impressive. A bit concerned about the financial situation, with only 5 mill in reserves for a 100 mill program. Such funds can come in quite handy if you need to let go of an inadequate coach, say in football, and need to go out and get a decent hire.

frblalack writes:

Great interview! But we need to improve on our track & field! Tennessee should be second to no other schools in the track & field events!!!!

C'mon Coach...Let's do better..We have the hills for training & the best facilities!!!! There is NO reason why the Tennessee Vols should not be number one in track & field! Either FIRE our coaches or get better recruits!!!! We should not be second fiddle to anyone!!! ANYTIME..EVER!!

I remember when Doug Brown was running for UT...we didn't have the best facilities but we had some courageous athletes and coaches!!!!! We should be SECOND to no one!!!!! Hear that J.J.?

All Vols!!

Classof72 writes:

Going to Milligan's Island is a brilliant idea. If they lose the opener, they can go back there and stay until they're rescued (or cancelled).

frblalack writes:

Honestly, Coach Hart! Tennessee should not be taking a back seat to ANYONE in track & field! We have the ABSOLUTE BEST training facilities! The hills of East Tennessee ARE the very best in the nation! I cannot understand how Arkansas could possibly defeat us, except for recruiting or pitiful coaching! We have the wherewithal to BEAT ANYBODY! When I was teaching I ran with our student-athletes in the hills of East Tennessee; we won our conference! There is NO reason for UT not to be the BEST track & field in this nation! If we can't be in the top 1-2-3 in the country...then something is amiss!

All vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - Believe!

MidTennVol writes:

Illuminating. Great interview, Strange. One thing I wish he'd addressed: getting more alumni/lettermen actively involved with their programs. If we're going talk "Vols for Life," it would help to see more than just one or two real ones every few months.

rainbow6 writes:

That was a great question about who will carry on the traditions at Tennessee. Hart never answered it because he and Mike Strange both know that there is no one left who cares about tradition.
Hart wants to make himself the great traditionalist but he has no connection to the past or anyone with any background in Tennessee athletics. Some may say that is not important and some may say that it is not even necessary.
Some would say that is a big hole in the hearts of the fans . We will see.

snakeplissken writes:

From reading that, Dooley needs to win 9 games and be competitive in the 3 losses. He has the easiest schedule we've had in years to achieve this.

trgclychip writes:

J'J Clark has a fine track record as a women's coach. In my opinion he is in over his head as Director of a program with national aspirations. . It doesnt take very long to diagnose this sitch. he sure talks a good game. I dont rally want coaches who are optimistic. I want coaches who are realsitic.

DarkGable writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

From reading that, Dooley needs to win 9 games and be competitive in the 3 losses. He has the easiest schedule we've had in years to achieve this.

You're just a mind reader now. You got all that from the article. A subliminal nine wins was in that interview. Dude you are good.
What's the Powerball numbers this week? I mean since you're so good at reading minds.

DarkGable writes:

in response to frblalack:

Honestly, Coach Hart! Tennessee should not be taking a back seat to ANYONE in track & field! We have the ABSOLUTE BEST training facilities! The hills of East Tennessee ARE the very best in the nation! I cannot understand how Arkansas could possibly defeat us, except for recruiting or pitiful coaching! We have the wherewithal to BEAT ANYBODY! When I was teaching I ran with our student-athletes in the hills of East Tennessee; we won our conference! There is NO reason for UT not to be the BEST track & field in this nation! If we can't be in the top 1-2-3 in the country...then something is amiss!

All vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - Believe!

Wow less than a year on the job and you're already blaming Hart. Some of you so called fans can't sit back and allow this man to fix the problem before you start running off at the pie hole through your computers because you don't have the b@lls to say anything to peoples faces. Click click click on your keyboards to ridicule the program.

BigOrangeSlim writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

From reading that, Dooley needs to win 9 games and be competitive in the 3 losses. He has the easiest schedule we've had in years to achieve this.

Man, I did not get that at all. IMO CDD has 2 years that is what they hired the new assistants for.

steveagolfer writes:

in response to frblalack:

Honestly, Coach Hart! Tennessee should not be taking a back seat to ANYONE in track & field! We have the ABSOLUTE BEST training facilities! The hills of East Tennessee ARE the very best in the nation! I cannot understand how Arkansas could possibly defeat us, except for recruiting or pitiful coaching! We have the wherewithal to BEAT ANYBODY! When I was teaching I ran with our student-athletes in the hills of East Tennessee; we won our conference! There is NO reason for UT not to be the BEST track & field in this nation! If we can't be in the top 1-2-3 in the country...then something is amiss!

All vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - Believe!

Sir as a resident of the state of texas i have been to Arkansas's track and feild facilities and i must disagree with you as i have been to yours as well. Theres a reason they hold the SEC track and field champs there...it truely world class...They train in the Ozark Mountions...you should do research before dissing a team that has 43 national titles...and so many conference titles that they don't even care about them...

rockypop writes:

Hart seems to put a great deal of emphasis on facilities with the thought that great facilities will attract great players, which in turn, will help ensure success. I would be interested in any substantial proof of that being the case.

Living in Nashville, I'm beginning to see the success even lowly Vanderbilt is having in attracting top talent in football, basketball and baseball. For basketball and baseball, that's somewhat understandable. But, football.....? Every day I run around the football complex, and a sorrier deal I cannot imagine - especially in the SEC. Their facilities are from the Mid-American Conference, and yet, they're starting to get the more elite guys. So, for UT to think that throwing money at state-of-the-art facilities is going to pay off is akin to community school systems thinking they can throw money at the schools and raise test scores.

Couchdummy writes:

Is it just me, or does Hart look like Jonnny Major's long lost son?

frblalack writes:

in response to steveagolfer:

Sir as a resident of the state of texas i have been to Arkansas's track and feild facilities and i must disagree with you as i have been to yours as well. Theres a reason they hold the SEC track and field champs there...it truely world class...They train in the Ozark Mountions...you should do research before dissing a team that has 43 national titles...and so many conference titles that they don't even care about them...

Sir,

Having lived in and run the hills of East Tennessee, I cannot imagine the "Ozark Mountains" being any more challenging than the Great Smoky Mountains. No, I never trained in the Ozarks, and no I have great respect for the Razorbacks track program, but our "natural" training facilities for track & cross country ARE exceptional! We should be one of the very best programs in the country! And if that means improving our indoor facilities and amenities, then by all means let's do it!

All Vols - All the Time - Believe ORANGE !!!

frblalack writes:

in response to DarkGable:

Wow less than a year on the job and you're already blaming Hart. Some of you so called fans can't sit back and allow this man to fix the problem before you start running off at the pie hole through your computers because you don't have the b@lls to say anything to peoples faces. Click click click on your keyboards to ridicule the program.

Not blaming Coach Hart for anything! You might try a little reading comprehension!

steveagolfer writes:

in response to frblalack:

Sir,

Having lived in and run the hills of East Tennessee, I cannot imagine the "Ozark Mountains" being any more challenging than the Great Smoky Mountains. No, I never trained in the Ozarks, and no I have great respect for the Razorbacks track program, but our "natural" training facilities for track & cross country ARE exceptional! We should be one of the very best programs in the country! And if that means improving our indoor facilities and amenities, then by all means let's do it!

All Vols - All the Time - Believe ORANGE !!!

Maybe you should get out more!!!! I have seen both....you have a ways to go!!!Just saying

frblalack writes:

in response to steveagolfer:

Maybe you should get out more!!!! I have seen both....you have a ways to go!!!Just saying

I completely agree. I should get out more! But having competiively raced in venues from Memphis to Johnson City and in the mountains of Asheville, N.C., I've run a few hills. East Tennessee is one of the best "natural" training areas in the country. Period. Maybe you should stick to golf!! Just saying

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - Believe!

rockypop writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know about Mike Strange, but my assessment is that Dooley's future is about more than number of wins. UT can win 8 games and he will be retained, or they can win 8 games and he won't be retained. The difference is Tennessee's record against traditional rivals that UT should be measured against. Teams like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Auburn.

Fulmer's downfall was losing to these teams by a wide margin while just barely beating teams like Kentucky, Vandy, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

Dooley has to have a team this year that is significantly competitive against top level SEC teams, while winning ALL the games they are supposed to win. When I see eight wins as the minimum for him to keep his job, I dismiss that out of hand. They can win eight games against inferior to equal teams - by squeaking by, but lose the other four against top level SEC teams, and not show any real improvement.

I used to think Dooley's fourth year was pivotal, because of the need to build the talent base. But, now, I'm convinced it's the coming year, because he's not only facing a need to extend his contract for recruiting purposes, but he's also most likely going to have to deal with his QB and two best WRs declaring for the NFL.

PatrickGildea writes:

I really hope, as do many others, Mr. Hart takes a close look at what is going on in the Men's Track & Field/Cross-Country program under the guidance, and I use that loosely, of JJ Clark. He has done zilch on the Men's side since being appointed as the Director. Well, if you count not connecting with the alumni, then congratulations - there's something. Oh, I guess finishing 10th at the SEC Outdoor Championships must count for something as well - all 30 points of it. He cannot recruit. The program used, more or less, recruit for itself. All types of athletes wanted to be here.

I believe Mr. Hart understands what it takes to compete at the highest level in NCAA Track & Field/Cross-Country. He has proven that. I hope that he really does take a close examination of the program and performs a SWOT analysis. The program's weaknesses far outweigh any strengths that there could be, and that would take some fabrication of the truth to reveal a possible strength.

This once proud program is unfortunately down and out; it will remain that way for the time being until Mr. Hart makes the necessary decisions and helps guide this in a direction that is opposite of where it is headed at this point in time.

Mike, I really like the interview. Job well, done. As always.

Thank you.

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to rockypop:

Hart seems to put a great deal of emphasis on facilities with the thought that great facilities will attract great players, which in turn, will help ensure success. I would be interested in any substantial proof of that being the case.

Living in Nashville, I'm beginning to see the success even lowly Vanderbilt is having in attracting top talent in football, basketball and baseball. For basketball and baseball, that's somewhat understandable. But, football.....? Every day I run around the football complex, and a sorrier deal I cannot imagine - especially in the SEC. Their facilities are from the Mid-American Conference, and yet, they're starting to get the more elite guys. So, for UT to think that throwing money at state-of-the-art facilities is going to pay off is akin to community school systems thinking they can throw money at the schools and raise test scores.

Vandy has an academic name it can sell. Many kids decide between the Vandy's, Stanford's, and Duke's and athletic schools don't even make the list. With a good coach and recruiter, Vandy can now compete with Stanford for the top tier recruits looking for a name to go on their diploma...

BigBadVol writes:

in response to rockypop:

Hart seems to put a great deal of emphasis on facilities with the thought that great facilities will attract great players, which in turn, will help ensure success. I would be interested in any substantial proof of that being the case.

Living in Nashville, I'm beginning to see the success even lowly Vanderbilt is having in attracting top talent in football, basketball and baseball. For basketball and baseball, that's somewhat understandable. But, football.....? Every day I run around the football complex, and a sorrier deal I cannot imagine - especially in the SEC. Their facilities are from the Mid-American Conference, and yet, they're starting to get the more elite guys. So, for UT to think that throwing money at state-of-the-art facilities is going to pay off is akin to community school systems thinking they can throw money at the schools and raise test scores.

I'm sorry but I grew up in Nashville. What top talent are you talking about? They land two or three 4-star recruits each year. Am I missing something? Vandy will always be Vandy.

steveagolfer writes:

in response to frblalack:

I completely agree. I should get out more! But having competiively raced in venues from Memphis to Johnson City and in the mountains of Asheville, N.C., I've run a few hills. East Tennessee is one of the best "natural" training areas in the country. Period. Maybe you should stick to golf!! Just saying

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life - Believe!

Arkansas has 43 NCAA titles in track and feild...i guess it is better to train in the Ozarks.....get back to me when you get somewhat close...which will be NEVER..

frblalack writes:

in response to steveagolfer:

Arkansas has 43 NCAA titles in track and feild...i guess it is better to train in the Ozarks.....get back to me when you get somewhat close...which will be NEVER..

You could be right, Mr. Sherlock. But I happen to think the major reason for those titles are the recruits. Arkansas recruited heavily across the pond where track & field has had a more significant impact in their athletic domain. Think Roger Bannister? Many of Arkansas's best distance runners came from Ireland, Britain, Scotland, etc. I credit their Hall of Fame Coach for getting the athletes here.

As far as the hills, give it a rest man. Your guess that it is better to train in the Ozarks is your guess, nothing more. You sound like you should be posting on the Razorback site!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life !!!

ReRerun writes:

I feel compelled to voice what I have heard from the mouths of the fine, nationally ranked, dedicated men who were recruited and signed to run for Tennessee. They have been deserted. They do not have a coach. They have no ally. They NEVER know what they are doing until they arrive at practice, where numerous professional runners are simultaneously being trained by the person who is suppose to be training them. However, his limited time seems to focus much more on runners who aren't in UT orange. Anyone who knows about, or cares to recognize the past accomplishments of our Tennesse runners can plainly see that some of the former finest high school runners in the nation have become irrelevant. They have no guidance or leadership. They are not held accountable by anyone. They DO NOT function as a team. There is no personalization on this unteam, they all do the same workout regardless of their skill level or talent. Their coach is not knowledgeable or seems not to care about their running history.
A talented female coach on staff is recognized by all as a possible light at the end of a horrible, terrible, no good tunnel. And, even though it has never been spoken, they sense she wants to train champions, but is squelched at every turn. Okay, I could go on forever about how ridiculously flawed, blazingly apparent this joke of a program/team is, but I, and these young men, are waiting to see if the new AD can do his job and recognize what we already know, then take some much needed ACTION!

Pompey writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

How did things get so bad at UT..Football, Baseball, Basketball, Track, Swimming, and next
season Womens Basketball will join that group unless a miracle happens... Things just don't happen like this in one years time, it's sorta like rust, it has long time exposure before it shows its real face... Good interview and I do think Hart will demand excellence in all programs.

.....to answer your question: Mike Hamilton ! Also throw in the neglected oversight of the Athletic Board and you have a recipe for distaster.....

GONAVY writes:

in response to rockypop:

Hart seems to put a great deal of emphasis on facilities with the thought that great facilities will attract great players, which in turn, will help ensure success. I would be interested in any substantial proof of that being the case.

Living in Nashville, I'm beginning to see the success even lowly Vanderbilt is having in attracting top talent in football, basketball and baseball. For basketball and baseball, that's somewhat understandable. But, football.....? Every day I run around the football complex, and a sorrier deal I cannot imagine - especially in the SEC. Their facilities are from the Mid-American Conference, and yet, they're starting to get the more elite guys. So, for UT to think that throwing money at state-of-the-art facilities is going to pay off is akin to community school systems thinking they can throw money at the schools and raise test scores.

I agree. The difference is in coaching, and in selling a culture change. Vanderbilt's stadium is pitiful by SEC standards, but they are on the rise. It is so much the enthusiasm and mental focus for change that seperates Dooley from Franklin, at least at this point in time, and I truly feel Franklin is doing a better job than Dooley. Maybe the 7 new football coaches at UT and some maturity in the current players will help them.

GONAVY writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

I'm sorry but I grew up in Nashville. What top talent are you talking about? They land two or three 4-star recruits each year. Am I missing something? Vandy will always be Vandy.

Man, where have you been lately? Geez. Moving on...

GONAVY writes:

in response to Orange_Juiced:

Vandy has an academic name it can sell. Many kids decide between the Vandy's, Stanford's, and Duke's and athletic schools don't even make the list. With a good coach and recruiter, Vandy can now compete with Stanford for the top tier recruits looking for a name to go on their diploma...

Good points. And it certainly hasn't hurt Stanford...will win the Director's Cup for 2011-2012. 2012 will say a lot for both UT and Vanderbilt. Both have higher expectations in football and a lot to prove. UT needs to show vast improvement and Vanderbilt needs to show consistency by hitting another bowl. Different paths, similar challenges in principle.

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