>Under the Bus

>Forty-eight hours before the Vols are set to begin play in the NCAA Tournament in an arena they’ve struggled in and facing clouds of uncertainty about the future of the program, Mike Hamilton goes on the radio and throws Bruce Pearl and the team under the bus.

Yes, there are questions surrounding the future of Pearl at Tennessee. And yes, Tennessee probably needs to resolve those before the NCAA hearing comes around in June (at the very least, it will have a major impact on whether players go pro or not). But the timing of this whole thing just stinks to high heaven.

Instead of the epic battle between Tennessee and Michigan being the story for the game tomorrow, the story will be all about Bruce. CBS probably is loading up their graphics and their commentators are busy getting ready to regurgitate the entire saga again on the off chance that someone from Mars just wandered in and hasn’t heard it just yet. It wouldn’t shock me to see this distraction and circus, again created by Hamilton, doom the Vols to a one and done in the tourney this year.

And I bet Hamilton will use that as part of the reason cited for dropping Pearl when and if that axe falls.

See, because Hamilton is playing a great game of CYA at this point. Realizing that his fate as AD is tied to Pearl, realizing that he bungled the end of the Fulmer era and realizing that he’s responsible for the whole Kiffin fiasco, it’s easy to imagine Hamilton feels the heat. It’s coming to a slow boil and I think if and when Pearl is let go that serious consideration needs to be given to cleaning house and showing Hamilton the door as AD at the University of Tennessee. As the leader of the athletic department, the responsibility for all of what has gone on rests firmly at his door.

And the fact that he’s willing to throw his subordinates under the bus with a big game looming just shows how he’s not the leader the UT athletic department needs right now.

I won’t jump on the bandwagon and say that we should hire Phil Fulmer as AD if and when Hamilton is shown the door. But I will say it’s probably time for a change at the time, regardless of how events with Pearl play out.

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