Mike Hamilton finds himself in the midst of a head coaching search less than 24 hours after Lane Kiffin's resignation from the University of Tennessee.
Hamilton described Kiffin's tenure as the Tennessee head football coach in one word: "Brief."
"Certainly when I got on a plane yesterday morning in Nashville, Tennessee, to head to Denver, Colorado, for the day to meet one of our major corporate partners I didn't expect that I would be sitting here today under these circumstances," said Hamilton.
Hamilton expressed an obvious disappointment in the events of the last 24 hours.
"To be honest with you I am really disappointed right now for our student-athletes and for our fans that we are having to be here and have this discussion," said Hamilton.
With the school term beginning mere hours after Kiffin's announcement and what was scheduled to be 10 midterm football enrollees Hamilton made the newcomers an immediate priority.
"I got in this morning and one of the first things I did was get our midterm enrollees together to have a chance to visit with them," said Hamilton. "I wanted to let them know what I want our fans to know and that this is a great football coaching job. Tennessee football is not going away. We are going to have continued success in the months and years to come."
Initial reports said that ex-defensive line coach Ed Orgeron had only one foot out the door before contacting Tennessee commits about following Kiffin to Southern Cal. Orgeron had also reportedly told early enrollees not to attend class Wednesday morning to ease the transition to USC. Hamilton said if the reports were in fact true that the ex-Volunteer coaching staff would be operating outside the NCAA rules.
"If that was happening they would be operating without knowledge of the rules. And that is that after 12:01 a.m. on the first day of class the student athletes are here on campus and they are enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours of class they have matriculated at the University of Tennessee," said Hamilton.
While many Tennessee fans may have been blindsided by Kiffin's departure, Hamilton was not. Hamilton met with Kiffin on Saturday and the two discussed the head coach's interest in the Southern Cal position.
"He was very honest and forthright. He said that while he was not looking to go anywhere, but if the Southern Cal job became available, yes he would have interest," said Hamilton.That very conversation prepared Hamilton for the news to come. Hamilton immediately began his search for a new head coach.
"I got back here this morning, about 3:30 in the morning, slept for an hour or two and then got in here and we have been going full blast," said Hamilton. "The search process has begun. It began when I was notified officially of coach Kiffin's change yesterday afternoon."
Hamilton didn't want to give a timeframe, but look for the Orange and White to have a new head man before the end of the week.
"I don't like to put timetables on things of this nature, but I think everyone knows that we are getting ready to hit a live recruiting period again," said Hamilton. "This is an absolutely critical time for our program as it relates to signing date time. And so we will work very diligently towards trying to bring closure to this process as quickly as possible."
Although Hamilton realizes the timeliness of the situation he will not act out of panic. Hamilton says the right coach is more important than a timely hire.
"I would rather be a day late and to make sure we got the right person," said Hamilton. "However, that being said, because of the work that has already been done, the work that is being done, and the work that is going to be done we will bring this to closure as quickly as possible."
Hamilton said he would not have a chance to address the team because he was heading out of town on business immediately.