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

Six McCallie Swimmers Qualify For Junior National Championships

Six McCallie swimmers qualified for the 2018 National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships, held March 13-17 in Orlando, Fla.   Junior Jake Marcum placed 10th in the 200 backstroke in school-record time (1:46.06) and raced to a 14th-place time in the 100 backstroke (49.74). He was 40th in the 50 backstroke (23.96).   The 400-medley ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Tennis Wins Two Over Grace

The Notre Dame girls and boys tennis teams beat Grace on Tuesday.  Both teams won 5-0.    Notre Dame Girls def. Grace Academy Girls 5-0 Girls Singles: Anna Qualey (N) def. Lauren Estes 8-2 Charlotte Mahn (N) def. Makayla Fisher 8-0 Jane Haywood (N) def. Abigail Smith 8-1 Grace Hill (N) def. Caroline Connor 8-5 Morgan Hicks (N) won by default ... (click for more)

City May Make It Easier For Food Trucks To Operate In Chattanooga

The City Council is considering action that would make it easier for food trucks to operate in Chattanooga.  City Attorney Wade Hinton said cities like Austin and Portland have thriving food truck operations and Chattanooga is studying those models. He said, "It's truly an industry there." He said a 2013 food truck ordinance was limited and did not allow food trucks on ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says She Was Fired Because Philyaw Did Not Want To Be Seen With Someone Openly Gay

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court said she was fired because Judge Rob Philyaw and Court Administrator Sam Mairs "wanted me gone because I was openly gay." County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said Elizabeth Gentzler was not the only gay at Juvenile Court and Hamilton County government, indicating that may be part of the county's defense. Attorney Stuart James, representing Ms. ... (click for more)

The Panhandling "Tax" On Gunbarrel

I’ve been reading about the panhandling problem in downtown; it is a huge problem in the Gunbarrel area, too.  It’s commonplace to be accosted by panhandlers when walking from your parked car into a commercial establishment.  And often they are aggressive.  I look carefully around my car before getting out, but sometimes someone will be lurking in between cars and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)