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“I have no desire to play Tennessee,” Pastner told hosts Josh Ward and Will West on WNML-AM 990. “I don’t think it does us any good. I’m just being honest with you. For us, it’s a game that, I don’t know why we play it, but we play it because the athletic director wants me to play it and he’s my boss and what he says goes.”
Reached later, Pastner said he hasn’t hidden from his feelings, which he said are rooted in recruiting and aren’t personal. To Pastner, it’s simple: He doesn’t consider Knoxville a fertile recruiting ground, so why give Tennessee exposure in Memphis, a place where the Vols actively recruit players.
“(Johnson) feels it’s great for the state of Tennessee,” Pastner told the radio station. “A lot of people want it in the state of Tennessee, and so I understand that. … I’m OK with it. Look, my athletic director, I think he’s the best. I mean, the absolute best. If he tells me to do something, I totally believe in chain of command. He’s the boss. If he told me to go play Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State and anyone else, I would do it, because he’s the boss.”