There are two conflicting reports on the state of Tennessee’s athletic director search today, one via radio and one via web. We’ll start with radio.
According to a report on WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville today, University of Tennessee officials are have focused in on four top candidates for their open athletic director position. And no, none of the top four candidates are serving in Congress at the moment.
Radio host Jimmy Hyams reports that the UT search committee is looking closely at Georgia Tech’s Dan Radakovich, Kansas State’s John Currie, Houston’s Mack Rhoades and Cincinnati’s Mike Thomas.
Radakovich and Currie have been mentioned often since Mike Hamilton announced his resignation earlier this month. Initially, Radakovich denied interest in the UT job, but this past weekend rumors in Atlanta and Knoxville tied the Tech AD to the Volunteer gig. According to the WNML report, he is the top candidate on Tennessee’s wish list.
Radakovich has been at Georgia Tech since 2006. Previously he served on the athletics staffs at LSU and South Carolina as well as at Miami (Fla).
Currie — a former associate AD under Hamilton in Knoxville — left UT to become Kansas State’s athletic director in 2009. As someone with ties to the school, there are already people in the “bring him back” and “don’t bring him back” camps.
Rhoades was hired at Houston in 2009. Previously he had served as the AD at Akron and as an assistant AD at UTEP.
Thomas has been at Cincinnati since 2005. Before taking the Bearcats’ job, he too was the athletic director at Akron (where he was replaced by Rhoades). Twice he has won the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director Award — once while at Akron (2005) and once while at Cincinnati (2008). Ironically enough, that trophy is named after Tennessee’s most legendary football coach and AD.
Missouri’s Mike Alden was not on the list of top-choice candidates provided by Hyams’ source. However, Alden’s name continues to pop up in conversations regarding the Tennessee job.
Meanwhile, Volquest.com – the Rivals.com site covering Tennessee — reports that UT’s “final four” is a bit different than WNML’s list.
According to the pay site — click above to sign up — Radakovich is joined on the Vols’ wish list by Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione, South Carolina’s Eric Hyman and current Tennessee associate AD David Blackburn.
Castiglione turned down overtures from Tennessee before the school hired Hamilton in 2003. If Tennessee could afford him, grabbing the athletic director from a power school like Oklahoma would be viewed as a coup.
Interestingly enough, Oklahoma was one of two Big 12 schools — Texas A&M being the other — to chat with SEC commissioner Mike Slive about a move to the SEC last summer. So it’s possible that Castiglione could view Tennessee’s long-term future in the stable SEC as being less shaky than OU’s future in the fractured, Texas-dominated Big 12.
Also, while Oklahoma’s football program is in fine condition, it’s basketball program is facing the possibility of serious NCAA sanctions being handed down later this year (not unlike Tennessee’s). On the heels of Kelvin Sampson’s issues in Norman, some have speculated that the NCAA could use the death penalty on the program — though we doubt that penalty will ever again be used on a major program.
Either way, the getting could be so good in Oklahoma that Castiglione might consider getting himself to Tennessee.
Finally, Hyman’s is an interesting name to watch. South Carolina has improved in football and clearly Gamecock baseball has become the top program in the country on Hyman’s watch. But Carolina continues to lag behind many other SEC schools in terms of finances and fundraising. Is that a reflection on the Cocks’ AD or is Hyman doing the best he can at a school with fewew big-dollar alumni?