With Tennessee's ongoing search for a permanent athletic director, I figured I'd give the school some help on whom to hire.
Yes, UT has hired a search-firm to assist in its search, but I'm willing to offer my suggestion for free.
While I don't claim to know the ins-and-outs of the UT athletic department, nor do I have any experience, I feel I could handle the challenge.
I was a pre-business major my first two years in school here before switching to journalism and electronic media, so I have just enough knowledge of the business world. Couple that with my two years of experience as a journalist, I feel I could handle the media and the public relations side of things. (There'd be no more out-of-left field interviews on the eve of a team's post-season to suggest the coach could be fired after the season.)
That said, here are six things I would focus on:
1. Just Do It
Yes, that's the slogan of Nike. Getting rid of adidas and bringing back Nike would be one of the first moves I'd make. In general, Nike has superior products than adidas does. After all, adidas has yet to figure out what shade of orange to make UT's football jerseys. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has noticed at least three different shades of orange on UT's jerseys. The road jerseys are the worst. The orange numbers on the tops are completely different than the orange pants. I'm betting Nike could make UT's jersey colors match.
2. Free the students
This goes without saying: Students should be able to go to football games for free. Given how UT's athletic department is one of only a handful of athletic departments in the country that is self-sufficient, it shouldn't charge students to attend games. The UT student section went from dramatically creating a distinct home-field advantage to an embarrassment in recent years. Obviously the team's performance hasn't helped, but during the 1990s and early 2000s, the student section made Neyland Stadium one of the most intimidating stadiums in the country. It can be again.
3. "Soak Up the (Halftime) Sun"
What's this guy taking about? Well, one day during the football team's fall cam last year, coach Derek Dooley "tweeted" about going to see Sheryl Crow at the Tennessee Theatre. Obviously, the Vols coach likes the country singer, so why not have her perform during halftime of a football game? (As athletic director, I'd make it a point to keep the head football coach happy.) The only argument would be Dooley wouldn't actually be able to see her perform during halftime. So why not during halftime of a basketball game? You can't "soak up the sun" in Thompson-Boling Arena. This idea still needs some tweaking.
4. Retire two numbers
One of former men's athletic director Mike Hamilton's best ideas was retiring the jersey numbers of Vol legends. He was instrumental in retiring seven football numbers, as well as three basketball numbers. I'd like to continue that, starting with two Vol greats: Condredge Holloway's No. 7 and Dale Ellis' No. 14. Holloway, the former UT quarterback, was a fan-favorite during his time under center, and was the first African-American to start at quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. Ellis was a two-time All-American and twice selected as the SEC's player of the year for the men's basketball program. Ellis later played 19 seasons in the NBA.
5. Vols vs. Trojans
Remember all the fuss that was made when UT turned down the opportunity to play USC in the Chick-Fil-A Classic to open the upcoming football season? Yeah, I do too. Had I been athletic director, I would've talked with Coach Dooley to make sure it'd be all right to accept Lane Kiffin's challenge. My guess is Kiffin knew UT would say no, so he found a way to take one last jab at the Vols. I would've called his bluff. In Atlanta, it would basically be a home-game for UT, and you don't think some players on UT's team would love to go up against Kiffin and his squad? Ask UT running back Tauren Poole what he'd do for a chance to face Kiffin.
6. Admit Loften
No, this idea has nothing to do with the best three-point shooter in SEC history — though you could add Chris Lofton's to the retired numbers idea. This has to do with another Loften: Eddrick Loften. Loften is a highly ranked safety from Texas who has yet to be admitted into UT. He first signed with the Vols last year, and again this year. He was not admitted to school in time for the second session of summer school, meaning his chances of making it onto the football team this fall are very unlikely. As athletic director, I'd make it a priority to either get Loften admitted into UT, or figure out what he needs to do to be admitted.
All of these ideas, I feel, would make UT athletics better.
Will I be the next AD? Doubt it. Former football coaches Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors have a better chance of meeting for lunch. (Wait. That's another idea. Get Fulmer and Majors together and put the past behind them.)
But if UT wants to go against the grain and make an outside-the-box hire — similar to what it could have done with the baseball coaching job and former Vol great Chris Burke — I'd be the person for the job.
Just give me a shot. And if it doesn't work out, I'd gladly resign for one of UT's hefty buyouts.