KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee introduced its new athletics director Thursday, welcoming Kansas State’s John Curry home.
Wearing his 1998 National Championship ring, Currie delivered a nostalgic message of unity, hoping to bring together a fractured fanbase and conjure up the lore of old.
The 45-year-old will officially start as the Vols AD on April 1, his birthday.
Here are 10 more notes and nuggets from John Currie’s reception and introductory press conference…
1. Tennessee chancellor Dr. Beverly Davenport interviewed Currie alone in Manhattan, Kansas on Monday. Although she semantically explained that the Turnkey Sports Entertainment search firm recommended Currie, Dr. Davenport didn’t directly answer whether any of the other members of the search committee participated in the final decision.
Sometime Monday afternoon, she pulled out a contract and offered Currie the job, with the new AD saying, “The chancellor pulled out that piece of paper and all that I could think about was Maxim #2, Mr. (Jimmy) Haslem. ‘Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way score.’ So I pulled out a pen and signed that paper really fast.”
2. Currie comes to Tennessee with a reputation as a high-energy, fast-talker, but he said one of his early goals is to just listen and learn.
“The good Lord gave me two ears, two eyes and one mouth for a reason, and the first thing I’ve got to do is get around and listen. To see and learn and reconnect with folks.”
3. Currie explained that he’s “evolved” since his eight years at Kansas State, taking a valuable lesson from former Tennessee AD Doug Dickey.
“I remember Dickey one time, when I first got here, saying, ‘Now John, the wheels aren’t off this thing. You don’t have to fix everything yet.’ I think as a young person, all of us, we start off thinking we’ve got to solve every problem right now in a certain way. And over time you kind of learn that you sometimes need to sit back a little bit.”
4. Currie said winning championship is “absolutely critical” at Tennessee. “We’ve got a bunch of banners around here,”he said. “We’ve got trophies and like Dickey used to say, you’re either playing for the title or biting on the butt of the guy who is, that’s what Tennessee is about.”
5. Dr. Davenport believes strongly in Currie’s reputation with transparency and academic compliance. Some of her many questions to Currie during the interview process were, ‘How strong are you? How much courage do you have? Do you have a stiff backbone?
6. Currie was asked directly about reinstating the Lady Vols name for the basketball team, but the new AD skirted the question and said he hadn’t contemplated such a move yet.
7. Currie mentioned a lot of names during his reception speech Thursday, even giving a shoutout to Phillip Fulmer, a well-publicized candidate for the AD job. He said Fulmer “gave us the greatest run in the modern era of Tennessee football.”
Oddly, Currie did not acknowledge current Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, who sat in the front row and just two seats away from Peyton Manning. Tennessee’s entire football staff attended the ceremony.
8. Currie detailed the advantages and challenges of returning to a place he has history with. He finds “comfort” in coming home, saying, “I get to come back to a place I’ve already been at.”
But, “that’s an advantage and disadvantage. One of the disadvantages is that when you’re at a place for awhile, you’re part of some decisions and you do hurt some feelings. But there’s also the advantage that you know a lot of folks, too.”
9. Dr. Davenport would not disclose Currie’s contract deals, but said they would be public soon. Former Tennessee AD Dave Hart made more than $800,000.
10. While some don’t consider Currie “a Tennessee guy,” all three of Currie’s children — Jack, Virginia and Mary Dell — were born in Knoxville.
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