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All Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart wants this
Christmas is the right head football coach.
He knows just what he is looking for, too: a coach with a successful past, a recruiting pedigree in the SEC and the integrity to carry the program through an extended probation period.
"The profile is one that you would expect it to be," Hart said. "Some of the people we will approach, they won't want to engage until their season is over. Some people have a false sense that we are late. We are not. We are fine. I have done this many times. People need to take a deep breath. The door is not closing on our opportunities to find the right person."
Hart will be combing through resumes as though they were stuffed into the newspaper, whetting the appetite for the rush of Black Friday shoppers.
The problem is that Hart, like all those camping outside of the annual hotspots, will be in competition for this year's big-ticket items.
Arkansas and Kentucky are looking for a similar type of man to fill head coaching vacancies. Auburn, Boston College and California might be joining the group.
Tennessee is searching for its fourth head coach in six years, making this hire all the more important for the program.
"We need stability," Hart said. "But we need to find stability through a process that we are engaged in now. We have challenges. We have some competitive disadvantages that have been identified, that everyone on our campus has been working to overcome together. We have some academic competitive disadvantages that we are eliminating. These are all historical in nature. This has been the case for some time. We are now beginning to address and rectify some of those disadvantages that are real in nature."
The frustration from the fans is becoming palpable, and the hunger for a proven winner could force Hart to spend more than he wants for another coach. Then again, the school's chancellor recently made it clear he's willing to help make ends meet.
Topping the wish list of the fans is ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, along with Jimbo Fisher and Al Golden. Fisher and Golden have head coaching positions at Florida State and Miami, respectively.
Hart said he knows just where to look for the right hire.
"I have been doing this a long time. I have done a number (of coaching searches)," Hart said. "It is a pretty important hire. I think any leadership position hire is critically important."
Tennessee is not the only school with a wish list; here is a look at other programs around the country that have needs and what they are shopping for:
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