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


Brandon Morgan: UTC's O-Line Veteran

It’s a family tradition in the Morgan household to play in the trenches where the football wars are won or lost on gridirons in the fall. And it has been a successful tradition. Owner of a deep voice and pleasant smile along with solid football technique on his 6-2, 300-pound frame, Mocs redshirt junior Brandon Morgan and his O-Line (Offensive ... (click for more)

UC Football Standout Johnny Green Diagnosed with ALS

University of Chattanooga football All-American Johnny Green points to Nov. 8, 1958 and a mighty 14-6 triumph against Tennessee in Knoxville. “Some thought it was an upset, but as players we knew we could win that game and we did,” said Green earlier this week who was able to take the best shot the Vols had and came out the winner. “Beating Tennessee was ... (click for more)

City, County Pull The Plug On Downtown Shooting Range

City and county officials have decided to keep the police firing range at Moccasin Bend rather than building an expensive new indoor facility at the former Farmers Market property. County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Sheriff Jim Hammond and new Police Chief Fred Fletcher met recently and decided to "pull the plug" on the project. He said officers felt that the Moccasin Bend range ... (click for more)

Reception Honors County's 2nd-Longest Serving Employee

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, at a County Courthouse reception, asked anyone who was working at the courthouse in 1966 to raise their hand. Only Circuit Court Clerk Paula Thompson was able to do so. Judge Shattuck said he believes only Edna Camp of the Criminal Court clerk's office, has been at the courthouse longer. Ms. Thompson did not seek re-election, ... (click for more)

Noise Fallout Coming Soon On Chattanooga's Flawed Sound Control Ordinance - And Response (3)

I have been practicing acoustical, audio and sound engineering for more than twenty years. Since I understand many aspects of sound, I sent the enclosed letter to the Chattanooga City Council members regarding some of my concerns on the impending noise ordinance changes. My comments were unacknowledged.     August 19, 2014 Dear Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)