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Alabama Hires Potential UT Candidate Byrne As AD

Photo Credit: The University of Arizona

One name Tennessee had been considering to be its next Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics is off the board.

Arizona AD Greg Byrne has reportedly been selected by Alabama to be its next Director of Athletics, succeeding former Tennessee head football coach Bill Battle, who is retiring as Alabama’s AD, a position he’s been in since 2013.

Byrne is viewed as a rising star in the administrative community. The son of a long-time athletic administrator, Byrne became the youngest AD in SEC history at Mississippi State before moving on to the same position in Arizona in 2010.

He’s done a masterful job in fundraising and facilities development for the Wildcats – substantially upping the athletic budget in the process..

The Arizona basketball program has been a perennial power under his watch, while the football program made an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl in 2014, and the baseball team won the College World Series in 2012 and was a runner-up in 2016. Byrne also hired Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, who has gone to be one of the most successful coaches in MSU history.

It was a rapid transition for Alabama after Battle officially announced that he would be stepping down on Sunday. Reports circulated almost instantly that Byrnes had been tapped as the replacement.

That’s a stark contrast to Tennessee’s process, which continues to drag on. Dave Hart announced his retirement last summer, but that won’t officially go into effect until June 30 of this year. That’s left Tennessee in an awkward transitional phase with Hart still technically in power, but also in lame-duck status.

Chattanooga AD David Blackburn, a former Associate AD at Tennessee, has emerged as a fan-favorite selection due to his Tennessee ties and his success with the Mocs in recent years.

Blackburn tweeted after news came out of Byrne’s hiring:

“Love Alabama’s decive action to move quickly to hire my friend Greg Byrne! He’ll do well! Following another Grt! person and friend Bill Battle.”

That tweet – which could be interpreted as a knock on UT’s slow process – was later deleted.

This is just another twist in what’s been a frustrating process to many Tennessee fans. The Vols technically don’t need to make any kind of move at this point since Hart is still in office for several more months, but seeing other programs transition so seamlessly has to make you wonder about the decision-making process from those at the top of UT.

It certainly hasn’t been a great look for Tennessee all around.

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