By Gary Parrish
Dave Hart was in line to be Alabama's next athletic director.
But that line isn't like a line at a grocery store.
You can't look at the amount of stuff in people's baskets, then try to gauge when you'll be at the front and plan accordingly. There's just no way to know for sure. It's what Will Muschamp endured at Texas while waiting on Mack Brown to retire. It's what Mike Hopkins is dealing with at Syracuse while he waits for Jim Boeheim to walk away. Knowing where you're going is comforting, but having no idea when you'll get there must be tough on some level. So I'm not surprised that Hart, an Alabama graduate, accepted an offer to become Tennessee's next athletic director on Monday. It's not his dream job, obviously. But it's a great job -- and a great job he can have right now.
Which is not to suggest this'll be easy.
Hart is taking over at a school with two high-profile sports on probation.
He has two coaches -- Derek Dooley in football, Cuonzo Martin in men's basketball -- with promising characteristics, but the truth is that both are unproven at the high-major level, and what the next five years will bring to Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena is anybody's guess. So Hart will have to monitor things closely and be smart about handing out contract extensions and pink slips. It's unclear whether he's got the right guys in place, but most agree he's the right guy for this job.
Dave Hart was gonna be Alabama's athletic director someday.
But he gave that up to be Alabama's rival's athletic director today.
That seems like a good thing for Tennessee and a bad thing for Alabama.
It's nothing Nick Saban can't overshadow Oct. 22, of course. But it's still a big deal in Knoxville.