Hart outlines search template for finding new football coach
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — Dave Hart dispelled any rumors Sunday of what he has and hasn’t done in an effort to find Tennessee’s next head football coach.
In a candid, half-hour press conference to announce the firing of Derek Dooley, Tennessee’s Vice Chancellor of Athletics and Athletics Director said the search begins “in earnest now” to find a new name to head the Tennessee football program, but those discussions haven’t started yet.
“I think there is a right and wrong way to do everything in life, and this is the way I’ve always done it,” Hart told the assembled media. “I’ve contacted no one, I’ve back-channeled no one. I don’t think that’s fair to the current head coach.
“Now, do I have a plan? I do. But those conversations have not begun.”
Hart said he met with Dooley early Sunday morning to tell him he was moving in a different direction. Both Hart and Dooley met with the team later in the morning to address the decision.
Hart didn’t name candidates, but he said every athletic administrator has a list prepared.
“I think every athletics director in America, everyone that I know, you have a list of people,” Hart said. “That list changes annually because you don’t know what will put you in a coaching search. Heaven forbid it could be a tragedy or something. You don’t know what can have you in a coaching search.
“Now, how many of those names at the end of the day will get traction? That remains to be seen. And I have not begun that. I will begin that in earnest now.”
Hart, too, outlined what he’ll be looking for in the search.
“Obviously, we want a coach who knows how to be successful,” Hart said, “who has had success and knows the difficulty of climbing the ladder in the SEC and can appreciate and identify what that takes.
“We want somebody with integrity. That is important.”
Possible candidates at other schools that could be on Hart’s list still have the final week of the regular season to finish before bowl season begins. Hart addressed those issues while discussing a timetable for the hire.
“There are a lot of variables, and no searches are ever identical in nature,” Hart said. “Coaches won’t want to engage until their seasons are over you may have others that are in a different scenario that may be able to talk to you.”
As for who he’ll turn to in his search, if anyone, Hart said he has peers that he trusts. He implied the university will not utilize a head hunting firm or search committee in the process, at least not initially.
“I have friends in this profession in my 29 years in athletic administration who I trust implicitly,” he said. “Who I think share a level of expertise on the type of people that we will want to explore and that I will talk to and I trust those people. I will reach out to a few people of that nature.”
In terms of a candidate, Hart said he’ll sell both the program and the overly-competitive landscape of the SEC.
“My pitch to them is that this is a great place,” Hart said, “an attractive place to come and be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee and be the person responsible for providing the leadership that takes us back up the hillside.”
Hart went on to mention December as the decisive month in any college football vacancy.
“I think a lot of in the past, a lot of hires of this nature occur some time in the month of December,” Hart said. “Very candidly, a lot of those coaches will be in New York City for the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. Some will continue to play into deep into the postseason. December is a critical month.”