Randy Smith: Tennessee’s New Head Basketball Coach

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart took very little time in finding a replacement for the departing Cuonzo Martin. After being turned down by Louisiana Tech’s Michael White, Hart offered the job to Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall who accepted. Tyndall signed a six year contract worth $1.6 million a year.

While U.T. fans were turned off by Cuonzo Martin’s lack of personality, they should love Coach Tyndall. He may not be as dynamic as former coach Bruce Pearl, but he is pretty close. It’s good the Tennessee fans are expected to fall in love with Tyndall’s personality and charisma, because the wins could be few in 2014-2015. Martin’s departure left the Vols’ cupboard bare as only one starter returns from last year’s “Sweet 16” team. Guard Josh Richardson will be the lone senior for the Big Orange next season, which means it could be a few years before the Vols can compete near the top of the SEC, which Martin did all three years in Knoxville.

The similarities between Coach Tyndall and Coach Pearl go beyond personality. Like Pearl,(Wisconsin-Milwaukee)Tyndall comes from a mid-major program. (Southern Miss) Like Pearl, Tyndall’s teams believe in playing full-court pressure defense. There is one trait Tyndall possesses that Pearl did not when he came to Knoxville. He has a recruiting network already set up in the southeast. Tyndall spent four years as an assistant coach at LSU, so he knows the SEC well. He also spent four years as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State so he also knows Tennessee well.

He is also a proven winner. In the six years he spent as the head coach at Morehead State in the OVC, he was 114-84 with two NCAA appearances. His Morehead squad scored a huge upset in NCAA play as his 13th seeded Eagles knocked off fourth seeded Louisville coached by Rick Pitino. He only spent two years at Southern Mississippi but in two years his teams won 56 games. That includes a school record 29 wins and a Conference USA Championship this past season.

There was a bit of a scandal regarding recruiting violations during his tenure at Morehead State, but the school self-reported and self-sanctioned, so the NCAA accepted.

The general feeling in the media is Tyndall is a great hire for Tennessee.  Gary Parrish of CBS Sports says, “Like I said when Arizona hired Sean Miller, Tennessee will eventually be glad that they stumbled into this hire. Donnie Tyndall is a great fit.” 

On the internet, Tennessee’s fickle fans are remaining lukewarm about Tyndall’s hire. One even said, “It appears that Dave Hart has a very specific physical type in hires. (Baseball coach) Dave Serrano, Butch Jones and Donnie Tyndall have similar physiques.” Seriously? First of all, Dave Hart did not hire Dave Serrano, interim AD Joan Cronin did. And Butch Jones and Donnie Tyndall look nothing alike at all. Jones is considerably taller and thinner; which shows you how much most of the internet scholars actually know about anything. 

In all, I am at least a little bit excited about getting Donnie Tyndall as the Vols’ new head basketball coach. I loved Cuonzo Martin and hated to see him go, but I also agree that he was not happy with the Vols’ fan base and the administration. I wish him well at California and I wish Bruce Pearl well at Auburn. I also wish the best for Coach Tyndall at Tennessee and I sincerely hope he doesn’t get burned out too quickly trying to please a less than knowledgeable fan base. 

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com


Seniors Lead Lady Vols Past UGA, 70-59

Tennessee returned to its winning ways on Thursday night with a 70-59 victory over Georgia. The Lady Vols (24-4 overall, 14-1) bounced back after their first conference loss of the season at #2 South Carolina on Monday with a well-balanced performance at Stegeman Coliseum. Senior  Cierra Burdick  posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was Burdick's ... (click for more)

Dalton State Basketball Clinches A Tie For SSAC Title

The (6) Dalton State basketball Roadrunners (25-3, 15-2 SSAC) clinched a share of the conference regular season championship Thursday night with a 24 point, 83-59 win over College of Coastal Georgia. The Mariners connected on 8 of 12 free throw attempts in the first half to stay within two points of the Roadrunners at 38-36. Coastal Georgia was held to just two of 16 second ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Glass Street Early Friday Morning

A man was shot early Friday morning on Glass Street.   Chattanooga Police responded at approximately 2:30 a.m. to  2211 Glass Street (corner of Glass Street and Dodson Avenue) for  a call of a person shot and upon arrival found a single individual suffering from a single gunshot wound.  The victim was found at 2208 Glass Street (J and J Lounge). ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools, UTC To Close Friday; Other Closings Announced

Due to remaining snow on some of the roadways and the potential for black ice overnight and into the morning, Hamilton County Schools will be closed on  Friday . School Age Child Care will also be closed. Employees who accrue vacation will report by  10 a.m.  and maintenance employees will report on regular schedule.  All classes are being ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Always Been A Battleground Between Good And Evil

From the thousands slain in nearby Chickamauga Battlefield during the Civil War…  To the launching point of the Cherokee Indian’s Trail of Tears…  To the lunch counter sit-ins led by Howard School students — the only high school student sit-ins in the nation — during the Civil Rights Movement…  To Walter Cronkite calling the polluted Southern industrial town ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our 92-Year-Old Victim

It is with great pride, and far greater relief, that I can report a “caretaker” is far different than a “boyfriend.” A story out of Memphis earlier this week morphed into a virtual fireball that had such power it appeared on the front page on a London newspaper and other news outlets all around the world when it was reported by the Associated Press a 28-year-old man had assaulted ... (click for more)