- Advertisement -

Tennessee saves money with Lady Vols’ basketball hire

- Advertisement -

There are plenty of Tennessee fans that were expecting more of a sonic boom than a pop that was barely worthy of news coverage when the Lady Vols announced their next head coach. And I tend to agree with them.

Despite Kim Caldwell’s resume – and it is impressive – I was expecting a bit more from Tennessee athletic director Danny White after he decided to fire former Lady Vol basketball coach Kellie Harper last week.

There had been talk about big-name candidates, which included some familiar Lady Vol figures, that were more than just a bit enticing, especially after South Carolina finished the season undefeated with a championship game win over Iowa on Sunday night. The Gamecocks have clearly proven that a championship-winning program can be built from the ground up.

South Carolina has now been to six Final Fours. All occurred under head coach Dawn Staley, who played college basketball at Virginia before a standout WNBA career. Staley now has her second national championship in her 16 seasons at South Carolina, which shows one thing: The Vols may have to be patient with Caldwell. After all, it took Staley until her seventh season to make the Final Four. Caldwell might not do it overnight just because of the Lady Vol moniker, it may take longer. It may take patience.

Staley certainly paid her dues, but did so quickly. In her eight seasons at Temple before Staley was hired by South Carolina, she made the NCAA Tournament six consecutive times and seven times overall. Caldwell did not miss a Division II basketball tournament in her six seasons as head coach at Glenville State or her one season at Marshall. She’s also finished first in the Mountain East Conference every season except for one and guided the Thundering Herd to a 26-7 record and the NCAA Tournament this season.

- Advertisement -
SUBSCRIBE: “The Dave Hooker Show”

I certainly endorse White’s decision to hire another coach without Lady Vols ties, as Tennessee has had the previous two seasons with Holly Warlick and Kellie Harper at the helm. There was no need to go down that same road again, but did White find the answer to showcase a championship program – if that’s even the goal?

Caldwell signed a five-year contract with $3.75 million. That’s about $750,000, which is seventh-best in the SEC. So either White has made a great hire with an up-and-coming coach or the Lady Vols are going to be doing this whole hiring thing in about five years again. Out of the box, this looks like a blah hire. However, we’ve dealt with that before.

Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel wasn’t considered a splash hire and he’s worked out pretty well to this point. Heupel only had three seasons as a head coach under his belt at Central Florida when he became a Vol and just a 68-percent winning percentage in three seasons. Caldwell is nearly 88-percent in games won during her eight seasons as head coach, but also comes from a lower level of competition.

Caldwell’s hiring, by all accounts, won’t have nearly the impact of Heupel’s because, well, its football. However, for an athletic director with no loyalty or nostalgia toward the Lady Vols, White’s latest hire feels like a way to run a business and, not necessarily, win championships. White knows he won’t be judged on the Lady Vols and he knows that they’ll never recoup whatever money he has to spend. Did White go cheap just to satisfy Title IX demands?

There’s no need to doubt the Caldwell hire for one simple reason: White has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his hirings. However, questioning and doubting are two different things and questioning this hire is very understandable.

- Advertisement -

Latest YouTube Videos

One Response

  1. I really like the hire. I love the way she plays a 94 ft game. It’ll be fun to watch. Hopefully she can get some good athletes from the portal. White has a history of great hires with names that don’t wow you until the action starts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Podcast

- Advertisement -

More Podcasts

- Advertisement -