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Writer: New UT A.D. Can Only Lead Cheers

When it comes to selling its vacant athletic director’s position, Tennessee officials have a lot of positives to tout — a top 10 athletic budget nationally, a tradition of winning, top of the line facilities and a passionate fanbase.

On the other hand…

This might not be the best time to be searching for a new AD.  In addition to likely NCAA probation in football and basketball and a relatively new chancellor (ie: boss) with little in the way of a proven track record, the school has two newly hired coaches in its two biggest sports.  That means Derek Dooley and Cuonzo Martin are likely untouchable in Knoxville for a while.

John Adams of The Knoxville News Sentinel believes that will make the Vols’ AD position a tougher sell to candidates wanting to prove their worth on a large stage:

“No matter how poorly the football or basketball programs might do in the next couple of years, a new athletic director won’t shove their coaches in hopes of making a heroic hire.  The last thing either program needs at this juncture is another change.  So Dooley and Martin shouldn’t have to worry about a quick hook, especially when you consider their challenges could be exacerbated by potential NCAA sanctions.

Their new boss can only hope they are successful.  But he won’t get credit for it.  That’s not much incentive for someone trying to make his mark or make the most of a second chance.”

Perhaps that’s why a number of rumored candidates have said they’re not interested in the job even before being contacted.

Logic would suggest that a job at a major SEC university with the bank account and history of Tennessee would be appealing to someone.  Somewhere.  But in 2003 — the last time the UT AD’s gig came open — the Vols found themselves turning things over to internal/fallback candidate Mike Hamilton. 

Whether UT can lure in an outsider — and a big name — this time around or not, Adams is correct regarding the new guy’s relationship with the coaches he’ll be inheriting:

“Whatever progress UT makes in its three top men’s sports will be up to its coaches — Dooley, Martin and whomever it hires in baseball.  All the new AD can do is cheer them on.”




Whats up with all these Jimmy Cheek rumors I have been hearing? Is he really that hard to work with? Why is he here? Why wont he give Dooley what he needs? I dont like him. He wears way to much gold for me.



I'm not sure what you're hearing. Most of the SEC's presidents are viewed as "geeks" by their schools' sports fans. After Destin especially, many are viewed as standing between their football programs and success. And that's not fair.

From the Tennessee fans I've heard from, Cheek is disliked partly because he comes from the University of Florida. But as Georgia fans have found out with Greg McGarity -- UF is a pretty good learning ground. Florida is a Top 50 university and a Top 5 athletic program. Personally, I'd look at his stay in Gainesville as a plus, not a minus. Who in the SEC wouldn't want to trade track records with the Gators?

Cheek has been hit by the media for standing by Bruce Pearl last September. He has been hit by many fans for firing Pearl in March. It seems he's in a bit of a no-win situation to boot.

Whether he'll hire the right AD for Tennessee is anyone's guess. But it's too early in his tenure as chancellor for folks to believe every rumor they hear about him.

Just my take.

Thanks for reading,

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