"We haven't had success in five to six years, and we have had five very difficult years," Hart said. "I look at that from a positive perspective. I always put myself in the other role. Trade places. (If) I am the candidate, how am I viewing this? I would view it as a heck of an opportunity. If the support is there — and it is — I would have every level of confidence that I can turn it around."
Hart had indicated at that news conference that head coaching experience was "critically important" and that he wanted a coach who "knows the difficulty of climbing the ladder in the SEC."
This search's length has subjected Tennessee to some unwanted national attention. The hashtag "TurnedDownTennessee" was trending on Twitter late Wednesday night.
But a long search sometimes pays off.
Vanderbilt's James Franklin was hired about three weeks after the firing of Robbie Caldwell and emerged as the front-runner only after Malzahn withdrew his name from consideration. Nick Saban took over Alabama's program about five weeks after the firing of Mike Shula and nearly a month after Rich Rodriguez turned down the job.
Hart can only hope his search turns out equally well.