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Say this much for Dave Hart: Self-confidence is not an issue.

Hart has appointed himself as a one-man search committee charged with selecting Cuonzo Martin's replacement as Tennessee's basketball coach. Search firm? Who needs a stinkin' search firm.

Hart is on the case. He'll make the phone calls, do the interviews, negotiate the contract and ultimately sign someone on the dotted line.

Yes, it's an old-school way of conducting business, but what's wrong with that? You can pay a search firm six figures to make preliminary contact and supply a list of possible candidates, but if you already have an idea of the direction you'd like to go, why not keep it all in-house?

Besides, many search firms have their own agendas. Some gravitate toward candidates who are represented by a certain agent. Others recycle the same names regardless of the job. Given those circumstances, a do-it-yourself approach makes sense.

Hart has been down this road before. His search for a football coach was a bit of a mess, but it turned out fine. He spent far too much time pursuing Mike Gundy, who wasn't going to leave Oklahoma State, and then made the mistake of offering the job to someone he assumed — incorrectly — would accept it — Louisville's Charlie Strong.

To his credit, Hart then moved quickly to hire Butch Jones, whose public relations savvy and recruiting ability have made him the most popular sub-.500 coach in UT history.

At least this time Hart doesn't have the misguided expectations — or hopes — among many in the fan base that somebody like Jon Gruden is in play. Bruce Pearl is under contract at Auburn. And I don't think Mike Krzyzewski is leaving Duke.

Hart's history of hiring basketball coaches is limited, but he has a decent track record. While athletics director at East Carolina in 1987-95, he hired first Eddie Payne and then Joe Dooley. Payne left to become coach at Oregon State and Dooley is now coach at Florida Gulf Coast.

As AD at Florida State from 1995-2007, Hart hired Steve Robinson from Tulsa in '98 and in 2002 hired Leonard Hamilton, who had spent a season coaching the NBA Washington Wizards after successful runs at Oklahoma State and Miami.

About Hamilton: When UT was looking for a successor to Don DeVoe after the 1989 season, I got a tip that then-Vols athletics director Doug Dickey was meeting with a candidate at the Marriott Hotel near the Nashville airport. Being the sneak I am, I staked out the lobby.

After about an hour, the elevator door opened and Hamilton walked out. He was head coach at Oklahoma State at the time. I approached him, introduced myself and started asking questions. He kept shaking his head and walking toward a waiting car.

He finally stopped for a moment and said, "I'm not here. We're not having this conversation." I showed him my tape recorder and he said, "I don't care what you say or write. I was never here." Weird.

So I guess I was interviewing the Invisible Man. Unfortunately, UT hired another Invisible Man — Wade Houston.

But I digress.

In his previous stop as executive director of athletics at Alabama, Hart was instrumental in the hiring of Anthony Grant in 2009. Frankly, it looked like a great hire. Back in 2007, when Grant was coach at VCU, he appeared headed to Florida when Billy Donovan initially agreed to coach the NBA's Orlando Magic. Donovan backtracked and stayed at Florida.

For whatever reason, it just hasn't clicked for Grant at Alabama. But nobody questioned the hire at the time.

What now? History tells us that UT basketball tends to aim for an up-and-comer from a program in a mid-major conference. The last three hires fit that profile — Martin (Missouri State), Pearl (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Buzz Peterson (Tulsa).

Meanwhile, Dave Hart is on the clock.

And it's his clock.

David Climer's columns appear on Friday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Reach him at 615-259-8020 or on Twitter @DavidClimer.

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