Dear Dave Hart,
It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
To you? It’s pretty easy for most Tennessee fans. To be fair, you were fighting an uphill battle from day one thanks to the whole Alabama thing. Yet, you still tried your best to win us over.
We wanted rid of Derek Dooley. You got rid of Derek Dooley. It was a year too late, but we understand that your hands were tied. You weren’t very good at negotiating with or interviewing coaches.
Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Michael White. Chris Holtmann.
Some would say that those coaches all were only using you just to get a raise with their new jobs. Others would say that they were interested but you just couldn’t close the deal. I’m not sure which is worse.
And then there is the whole Donnie Tyndall thing that effectively crushed Tennessee basketball. You held firm with Cuonzo Martin and his contract extension talk. You even helped Tennessee collect over a million dollars in buyout money from Martin when he left for Cal. But then things went downhill.
You hired Donnie Tyndall. And, sure, even a man WITHOUT a level of expertise and information that no one else has should have been able to quickly find out that there were some red flags surrounding the hire. And by red flags surrounding Tyndall, I mean that even a little bit of investigating would have turned up enough info to scare you away. But hey, if you don’t open the closet door, you can’t find the skeletons hiding in there.
Alanis Morissette said it best, “You live. You learn.” Enough about that, today is about celebrating all of the good you did at Tennessee.
We wanted to get rid of ADIDAS and YOU delivered us NIKE. They said, “Just do it!” and buddy, you did it! Never mind the fact that the contract details were less than ideal and we kind of got a raw deal. That’s besides the point. Water under the bridge.
My man Dave Hart is all about the check, baby.
Tennessee was broke when you took over. We were poor. Now, Tennessee has money. The SEC Network was a nice boost, but you helped break records in fundraising and season ticket sales. No one disputes this.
I mean, you weren’t very nice to women. You destroyed the Lady Vols. That whole Title IX thing doesn’t help either. But if you really think about it, all of this helped lead to Beverly Davenport getting the gig as Chancellor. As fate would have it, Beverly helped oversee a world record for the world’s largest letter in your last week. Life’s funny like that.
Today, you leave the University of Tennessee in better shape than you found it, and that’s all anybody really asked for. Granted, the bar was low. Really, really low. Like, all you had to do was not let Neyland Stadium literally burn to the ground and most people would have seen it as an improvement, but, either way, mission accomplished.
Dave Hart, for five and a half years, you brought Vol Nation a lot of pain and embarrassment, but some positive things and good memories! Glass half-full, glass half-empty. Or like 80% empty, 20% full. Who’s counting.
You were a lightning rod that kept us entertained and engaged, one way or the other. You were a great wrestling heel for a fan base that needed someone to hate.
We will always have the three straight bowl wins, our APR score improving, and those pictures of you looking tan, with a nice, dark head of hair rocking the all white track suit.
Best Wishes in your “retirement,”