Randy Smith: Leave Holly Alone

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Following the Tennessee Lady Vols double-digit home court loss to Virginia Tech this past weekend the dissenters have been coming out of the woodwork, doing exactly what the Georgia dissenters did to Coach Mark Richt. They've been busy on the talk shows and websites calling for the head of Coach Holly Warlick.  You have got to be kidding! After taking over for Coach Pat Summitt in 2012-13, Warlick's Lady Vols are 93-22. That's a winning percentage of better than 80%. She has taken her three previous teams to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight twice, and to the Sweet 16 once.

Surely the legendary Coach Summitt didn't spoil her fan base that badly.

As far as the landscape of women's college basketball goes today, there is UConn and there is every other team in the world. The Huskies have dominated the game like no other team in history; and that includes Tennessee when Coach Summitt was at her peak. There was a time when college sports fans could care less about how many titles or how many games their teams won. Watching a few women's games was just something to do while the men's teams were out of town, and until the next football season rolls around.

Now the fans care, and that's a good thing. But to want a change in Knoxville right now is totally and absolutely uncalled for. Holly Warlick was born in Knoxville, played at Tennessee for Coach Summitt and was a three-time All-American point guard. She spent 25 years as Coach Summitt's assistant coach before being named to replace her when it was discovered Summitt had Alzheimer's disease in 2012. Warlick was the natural choice for the job and was easily the most popular choice as well.

She has won since she's been there and won big. In her three previous seasons, the Lady Vols have claimed two SEC titles.

I've said this before; think about who you will hire if Warlick is replaced. I absolutely guarantee unless you could pry Gino Auriemma away from UConn, you would not find a better coach than Holly Warlick. Oh.....I see where you're going with this. The heir apparent to the Tennessee job.......Tyler Summitt. Tyler is simply not ready to be thrown into a fire as big as the one in Knoxville. His teams at Louisiana Tech are mediocre at best, (16-15 in his first season and 4-3 this year.) He will  be a great coach but  he still has to season a bit before he takes the job his mother made so attractive.

I dare anyone to name a person who would do a better job than Holly Warlick does at Tennessee. Not only is she a great coach, but she is a quality person as well. She bleeds orange because she is Tennessee through and through. Don't make the same mistake U.T. made when they fired Phillip Fulmer in 2008. Someone who has given a major portion of their lives to their alma-mater deserves much better treatment than that. And when you add in a winning percentage of better than 80% against the kind of schedule her Lady Vols play, a change now is totally ridiculous. To change just for the sake of change is never a good idea.

So leave Holly alone and let her coach.  

--- 

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.

 


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