Inside Tennessee.com got the opportunity to sit down one on one with Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton this week to get his thoughts on several topics. Go "Inside" for this question and answer session with the man that calls the shots for the Volunteer Men Athletic program.
Question: Since being named the Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee, what has been your biggest achievement? What do you consider your crown jewel during your regime as the head man in charge of Tennessee Athletics?
Answer: There have been a lot of high moments. The thing that I guess I would take the most pride in as a staff is the transition of Thompson Boling Arena. That is a combination of several things, including Bruce Pearl's success as our head basketball coach. To see our fans reaction to the Arena and to know we have made it one of the toughest places for opponents to play at in the country. I'm as excited about that as anything
Question: What has been the toughest situation you have had to deal with since being named the AD at Tennessee?
Answer: There is no question about that, it's the coaching changes. They are tough because there are personal relationships that are involved. It's a lot more extensive than a lot of fans realize. It's not just about the personal relationship with the head coaches, it's about the assistant coaches, their families, staff members and their children you get to know during bowl trips etc. No doubt it's the toughest thing to deal with.
Question: Having three head coaches in three years, how detrimental is it to the program and how hard is it to overcome?
Answer: It can be overcome. We have just had a setback. Having three coaches in three years is not a normal scenario. I think that there is no question that has been difficult. So now we are trying to do is to surround Coach Dooley and his staff with the things they need to be successful. I never believed that Coach Kiffin was going to be here for the long term coach, we looked at him as a five to six year coach from the beginning. I believe Derek Dooley can be a long term coach at Tennessee. The reality is that today coaches around the country aren't staying along as long term coaches. For a combination of reasons. We were fortunate to have Phil around as long as we did and do the job that he did as long as we did. That's not going to be the norm in college football.
Question: As the Athletic Director at Tennessee what are some of the things you will use and look at to judge whether this football program is successful in what is probably going to be a rebuilding year?
Answer: You have to look at some things that maybe fans may not see immediately in terms of wins and losses. Those are some of the things I already see. That's putting together the little pieces of building a big football program. Derek and his staff are very busy doing those things now. I probably have more regular interactions with Coach Dooley than I ever have had with a coach. And that's a good thing, we are sharing what we need him to do and he is sharing with us what he needs to be successful. I already see some of those pieces coming to play. What that means in the fall, will some of the things he has already put in place begin to shine through in terms of leadership ability, discipline, how things are handled, I think you will see that. Also when kids go through what these young men have gone through in the last 18 months or so there will be scars from that but there will also be incredible lessons from that. I think we will have some incredible leaders developing out of that because they have been through some tough issues. What that means this fall I don't know.
Question: Does the fact that Derek Dooley was an athletic director at Louisiana Tech, does that help you two to have better interactions than with previous coaches?
Answers: Perhaps, he is so detailed oriented. When he looks at Tennessee Football and the things that are in place for him to be successful and we are helping him by refining some of the things that will help him achieve some of his goals. It's been good; it has allowed me to get to know him at a different level and allows him to know me better.
Question: As far as facilities go, how does Tennessee Facilities compare to the rest of the SEC overall?
Answer: You almost have to take it facility by facility. But overall certainly when we finish with our master plan we will have as good as facilities as anyone in our league if not the best. That's what we are trying to shoot for. We are building towards allowing our coaching staffs to have something they can recruit to that they can feel proud about selling and our fans can be proud of. We need to do a better job letting our fans know how important facilities really are to our program. It would be great if they go to some other campuses in the league to see how we stack up overall.