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Tennessee AD Danny White missed the mark by blasting Vols’ fan

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Tennessee athletic director Danny White is listening. Perhaps too much.

The Vols’ head man in their athletic department seems to have some thin skin when it comes to one of the many changes he’s made since taking his position in 2021, most of which have been positive. 

While I thought loping on a corporate sponsor to Thompson-Boling Arena was a bit crass given the conditions of the original funds supplied to build the facility, which included lifelong naming rights. That would seemingly draw enough criticism to garner a response from White about selling Tennessee’s history on Aisle Five. Nope, 

White is apparently more concerned about the Vols’ student section in the building formerly known as Thompson-Boling Arena, which were moved before this season. White fired off a defensive post on X/formerly Twitter to a fan that was complaining about the current state of UT’s student section, which hasn’t been sponsored by Kroger’s just yet.

I’m certainly not White, but I’m not sure that I’d be fielding criticisms from social media if I were him. What good can come of that? It’s easy to play the crowd when things are going well, but those same fans are going to expect some pretty quick retorts to things when they go bad. Besides, the Tweet in general was in poor form.

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White’s opening and closing line of his social media post is what is odd. His argument and resume are solid so why is he laying down declarations about when he’ll address pertinent issues and what’s with the “Stop the nonsense!” statement? Elon Musk couldn’t have hid the attitude that resonated in White’s post. Perhaps he should remember he’s very likely talking to one of his customers on X. Based on his previous posts, “Big Orange Punch” seems to be a Volunteer fan – and a rabid one. Doesn’t he deserve a bit more respect? Also, by responding to a dare on social media, White is just opening himself up for more agitators.

White could have plainly used the middle of his social media post about the moves made to the student section and left it at that. Instead, he decided to come across as incredibly insecure. Why? I have no idea. He’s doing a great job!

Tennessee’s athletic department is soaring, ranking fifth in The Director’s Cup Standings, which ranks the top athletic departments in the nation. So why is White Xing about it? Let’s take a look at SEC football for a moment as it relates to coaches who like to lean on social media. Does White want to be compared to Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin?

White’s current usage of social media needs a filter. Someone needs to tell White that he doesn’t have to come across as an insecure smart alec to make a point or answer a question. 

NFL analyst and former college and pro football coach Herm Edwards has some sage advice for White if he’s willing to listen, but he could be waiting for Day Five. 

“Don’t press send!” Edwards is well known for saying when it comes to potential incendiary social media posts sitting idle as the cursor blinks. Maybe White needs to take some of the training that Edwards tried to impart years ago. Surely, Tennessee’s athletes are trained in how to handle social media. Maybe White needs a spot in that seminar. 

There will be some, including perhaps the majority of Tennessee fans, that will back White and appreciate the willingness to show a little bit of flavor. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey won’t hold such posts in high regard and will, most likely, question what in the world White was thinking. 

Wild social media posts surely won’t help White gain favor with the SEC, which is looking for new leadership after Alabama coach Nick Saban retired. It’s worth noting that Saban didn’t have a Twitter account, but had a massive influence on the direction of the conference. 

White could have that sort of influence one day given how successful he’s been at Tennessee. However, before he expects to have a bigger seat at the SEC decision-making table, he needs to listen to Edwards and lay off the kind of social media posts that just make a leader look petty and unprofessional.

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