Quip of the day

Tennessee head football coach Phillip Fulmer is basically a no-nonsense kind of guy, and that's understandable.

You tend to be serious when 107,000 fans critique your every move each Saturday. You tend to be serious when, after only 14 years on the job, you are the dean of coaches in your conference. You tend to be serious when one fateful slip of the tongue could cost you a $2 million annual income.

Every once in awhile, though, Fulmer shows a side fans never get to see … a humorous side that comes out only on rare occasions. Tuesday was one of those occasions.

As Fulmer's weekly news conference was drawing to a close, he fielded a final question from the assembled reporters. Elizabeth A. Davis of the Associated Press asked how important it is for a new coach to win a rivalry game early in his career.

The question clearly referred to new Florida coach Urban Meyer, who will be involved in his first SEC rivalry game when the Gators host Tennessee Saturday night in Gainesville.

Recognizing this, Fulmer responded with characteristic caution.

"I guess it'd be real important," he said. "Going back to my early days, it was a big deal. You're trying to put your stamp on a program. It seems to me that would be important."

Fulmer thanked his audience and headed for the door, grinning broadly as he delivered a parting shot:

"It's pretty important for an OLD coach to win it, too, though."

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