Recently-hired Tennessee Vols athletic director Danny White is good at his job.
That’s why his hiring at Tennessee was greeted with reactions that included the phrase “home run hire”.
But White, like anyone, isn’t infallible. And he’s still learning that being the athletic director at Tennessee isn’t like being the athletic director at UCF or Buffalo.
The Vols are currently in the midst of a defensive coordinator search. This is an extremely important hire for Tennessee. New Vols head coach Josh Heupel is an offensive-minded coach that doesn’t often venture to the defensive side of the ball. Whoever is hired will have complete autonomy of the defense. It’s a make or break hire for Heupel.
This hire should be made solely by Heupel. White should be part of the vetting process, but the decision should ultimately be Heupel’s.
But that’s not what’s happening. Multiple sources have told A to Z Sports that White is “very involved” in the hiring process.
In fact, most conversations I’ve had with those who have been involved in the search include some version of the phrase “White is looking for ___”. There hasn’t been much talk about what Heupel wants in a defensive coordinator.
Another prevailing theme in this search from those close to it is that White is extremely concerned with the perception of the hire. He’s more worried about how the hire is received by fans/media than how it will actually play out on the field.
What White doesn’t realize is that leaks are going to happen. We’ve already heard multiple names attached to this job (Bryan Brown, Todd Orlando, Al Washington, Kacy Rodgers, Tony Banks) that have said thanks, but no thanks.
The perception of this search is that it’s a disaster. At this point, it doesn’t matter who is hired. The headline is going to be that Tennessee hired their seventh or eighth choice. And whoever gets hired is going to have a hard time winning the trust of the fans, simply because of how this search has played out.
It didn’t have to be this way. I believe if White had taken a step back in this search that a hire would’ve been made last week. There have been candidates that Heupel liked, but White wanted to keep looking.
White is learning a lesson the hard way. He can’t control the narrative at Tennessee like he did at UCF. There’s a lot more attention on his every move.
He’s going to have to swallow his pride a bit and adapt to being the athletic director at a major SEC program, otherwise, his time on Rocky Top isn’t going to go smoothly.
Featured image via UT Athletics/USA TODAY