TAC Air gets front row seat to coaching hires

The crew working at TAC-Air TYS doesn't make a habit of discussing their clients. However, this week -- most of East Tennessee wants to know more about one person who stepped off a plane.

The University of Tennessee formally announced the new men's head basketball coach Tuesday. Donnie Tyndall was chosen for the role, after Cuonzo Martin left the program for California.

Tyndall arrived in Knoxville Tuesday, and took his first steps into Big Orange Country on the pavement outside TAC-Air.

"It was a little chaotic. It was excitement," said General Manager Randall Honea. "He looked excited. He looked happy to be here. He'll be tired by the end of the night!"

TAC Air services travelers using private planes. As with many high profile travelers, Honea said they threw out the welcome carpet for Tyndall.

"We're the first impression they get to [Knoxville], and sometimes we'll say, 'Hi, welcome.' A lot of time we'll just get out of the way and let them do their thing," he said.

From day one, UT coaches are thrust into a big job with constant travel. The TAC Air crew has witnessed them board planes for competing, recruiting, and occasionally-- a new position.

"We've seen Kiffin, Dooley and Butch, and on the basketball side we had Pearl, Martin, and now Tyndall," Honea said. "We've had a couple leave that were, you know, quite interesting how they got out of town."

But that's the extent of his behind-the-scenes revelations. Privacy is highly respected at TAC Air.

However, Honea said recent first impressions leave him guessing this UT era might last awhile.

"With Coach Jones, when he got here, the guy hit the ground running. What I've seen so far -- he hasn't stopped," he said. "I think Coach Tyndall is the same way. He looks like he's got that fire and that inner drive to want to put the best product on the floor that he can."

Honea says he'll be cheering for Coach Tyndall to succeed, and hopes the fan base will give the newcomer a chance to prove himself.

Asked if he had any advice for coach, Honea said, "Put the best product on the floor that you can. Understand that this is a very passionate fan base, and there [are] some high expectations."

Honea and his crew will have a font row seat to watch it all unfold.


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