It would be wrong to describe soon-to-be-former Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton as the Reggie Ball of athletic directors. The Vols actually did pretty well against the Dawgs in the major sports under his tenure -- held serve at 4-4 in football (though that wasn't nearly as good as his predecessor, Doug Dickey), dominated in both men's and women's basketball, including a 10-2 record under men's coach Bruce Pearl.
No, it's the condition in which Hamilton is leaving Tennessee athletics that prompts Bulldog Nation to shed tears at his departure. Hamilton fiddled while Phil Fulmer allowed UT's football recruiting to turn into an '80s sitcom farce, and when the time came to replace him, Hamilton somehow managed to find the one guy in America who saw Tennessee's head coaching position merely as a stepping stone to someplace better. OK, yeah, said guy beat Georgia's tail something fierce, but he was gone just three months later, having left the football program arguably in even worse shape than he found it. And while Bruce Pearl indeed dominated the Dawgs on the hardwood, his untimely departure from Knoxville and the NCAA sanctions that are sure to follow have put some major dents in whatever sense of invincibility still cloaks Tennessee men's basketball. Given all that, you kind of have to wonder what other damage Hamilton could've done if he'd stuck around a few more years.
So while Mark Richt still has to get back to his winning ways of old with the football program, and Mark Fox still has work to do to make Georgia basketball into a contender, there's at least one SEC East rival that looks to provide much less of an obstacle to both endeavors than it used to, and for that we have Mike Hamilton to thank. Godspeed you, sir, and whenever Jeremy Foley finally decides to hang up his spurs in Gainesville, we hope you'll send the Gators a résumé.