Hamilton's in-depth search for basevol coach

Mike Hamilton isn't saying a lot these days about his baseball coaching search. The Tennessee men's athletic director is not saying how many candidates he's interviewed. He's not confirming who he's interviewed. He won't even say if he's hired a search firm.

But he is confident about one thing: ``We're gonna get a great coach in the next couple of weeks.''

The jury is still out on Hamilton's controversial hire of men's tennis coach Sam Wintherbotham over Chris Woodruff.

Hamilton delivered a slam dunk when he hired Bruce Pearl to direct the basketball program.

Will he hit a home run when he replaces Rod Delmonico?

That certainly remains to be seen. As he does with most sports, Hamilton had a list of potential baseball candidates before he fired Delmonico. But Hamilton said he won't be restricted by those names.

``This may sound really crazy,'' Hamilton said, ``but I've decided it's an opportunity to turn over all stones, whether it's the pro ranks, a current head coach or an assistant coach. It's an opportunity to take a hard look. … I'm doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people.''

As well he should. This hire isn't as important as finding a basketball coach, but it ranks third on the totem pole – behind football and basketball.

While Delmonico won 699 games and made three College World Series appearances, so much more can be done with the baseball program. Attendance can be better. Promotions can be better. The stadium can be better. The consistency of the program can be better.

What Hamilton needs is a Bruce Pearl clone to guide the Diamond Vols.

Those aren't easy to find.

Hamilton is believed to be interested in the head coach at College of Charleston, Virginia and California-Irvine – coached by former Vol assistant Dave Serrano. I asked Serrano on Tuesday if he would be interested in the UT job. He declined comment because his Anteasters are playing in the College World Series this week in Omaha, Neb., after upsetting powerful Texas along the way.

But if Tennessee pursues, I've got to think Serrano would listen.

Hamilton is believed to have an interest in assistant coaches at Clemson and South Carolina. But he's not tipping his hand.

I asked Hamilton if he wanted someone with head coaching experiencing in the SEC or the South.

``It's an advantage having been a head coach and a coach in the SEC, but that doesn't mean you'll get the job,'' Hamilton said.

``I'm looking for leadership qualities, an attitude of success, a plan to succeed and deal with the new baseball rules and for someone organized. We have a great espirit de corps among our coaches and I want the baseball coach to be a part of that.''


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