Worst head coach hires in Tennessee basketball history

Tennessee basketball has had a rocky history. Some great hires have brought great coaches to Knoxville and other hires have been a disaster. 

Veterans Classic Tennesse vs Virginia Commonwealth
Veterans Classic Tennesse vs Virginia Commonwealth / Tommy Gilligan/GettyImages
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Tennessee All-American forward Dale Ellis is defended by Kentucky's Melvin Turpin at Stokely
Tennessee All-American forward Dale Ellis is defended by Kentucky's Melvin Turpin at Stokely / Paul Efird, Paul Efird/News Sentinel

John Sines (1959-1962)

John Sines took over Emmett Lowery in 1959. Lowery had a successful tenure as Tennessee basketball’s head coach with a 169-110 record over 12 seasons. Sines served as an assistant under Lowery for eight seasons before taking over as the head coach. 

Sines’ most successful season was his first one, with the Vols going 12-11 and missing out on the post season. It was all down hill from there as the Vols then went 10-15 in 1960, and 4-19 in 1961, which ended Sines tenure in Knoxville. 

His only previous head coaching experience before coming to Knoxville was with the Lawrence Vikings of the Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference. Sines barely finished above .500 in his five seasons at Lawrence, with a 47-42 overall record. 

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Similar to Tyndall’s failures opening the door for Tennessee to hire Rick Barnes, Sines’ failures allowed Tennessee to bring in Ray Mears, who spent the next 15 seasons winning 278 games in Knoxville.