Dave Hart moving forward: 'If you're a competitor… come to Tennessee'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 18, 2012
With Monday's announcement that Tennessee had fired Derek Dooley, the question now is who do the Volunteers turn to?
Athletic director Dave Hart held a press conference Sunday and began by emphasizing that Dooley set the foundation for the next coach.
"I'll tell you that, while the results, which are very important, were not what he wanted, not what the team wanted, not what our fan base wanted, Derek Dooley did indeed improve this football program," Hart said. "There is no question about that. He inherited a very, very difficult environment, one that I am now very familiar with, having been here for these 13 months.
"Quite honestly, he was given a pretty short stick to take into that battle. Given those facts, he did a good job in a lot areas in putting a solid foundation under our football program."
As for the coaching search, Hart said Tennessee likely would not use a search firm, and he had yet to begin contacting coaches and athletic directors. He also wouldn't put a time frame on when a choice would be made, but did say December would be a "critical" month.
Regarding criteria, Hart wants a coach with prior head-coaching experience. The new coach would also be able to hire whomever he wants as assistants. Hart publicly pitched the success and competition of the SEC to any coaches out there who may have interest.
"I think it's very, very difficult to come into the Southeastern Conference without (prior head-coaching experience) being present, he said. "This league, it's a different world. We're at the end of the football season for all intents and purposes and we still have five teams in the top 10 in the country. ... This is the ultimate challenge, which competitors embrace.
"This is the ultimate challenge for a football coach, to come into this league. If you're a competitor and you want to prove your worth, come into the Southeastern Conference. Come to the University of Tennessee. You'll get that opportunity."
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org