Fulmer on Football

UT head coach Phillip Fulmer voices his opinion on the Coaches challenge, the posibility of adding a 9th SEC game and the importance of the season opener vs California, arguably the most challenging of his tenure.


Fulmer did not object to coaches getting one challenge, even though Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson said it was ludicrous because each played is reviewed anyway.

``It's probably a good thing, as it turns out,'' Fulmer said of the coaches' challenge. ``They've got all this equipment now and we're paying for that, and you'd think most of the time they'd get it right. But to have one more check system is probably a good thing.''


With the advent of the 12th regular season game, the Pac-10 will play a true round robin, with each conference team playing nine league games.

The Big 12 talked about adding a ninth game but didn't approve it.

How would Fulmer feel about a ninth SEC game?

``I have mixed feelings,'' he said. ``If you stay within the conference, you're going to play a tougher schedule because most of the teams in our conference are better than most teams we'd play outside the conference.

``From the athletic director's standpoint, which is exactly why the Pac-10 did it, they're having a hard time finding mid-major teams to play. They're having to pay an exorbitant amount of money to come to your campus and they're wanting you to return games. I don't think Tennessee wants to play at Louisiana Tech.''

Fulmer said if that trend continues, ``athletic directors will say, `Let's just play one more game in the conference and make it cleaner and cheaper and more profitable.''

Fulmer said it wouldn't ``bother me'' to play a ninth league game. ``Honestly, you'd probably get a better indication of who the real champion is.''


Fulmer dismisses the thought that the California game is the most important opener of his career.

``I don't know one that hasn't been important,'' Fulmer said. ``Obviously, we want to get the season off on a great track and bounce back from all we went through last year. From that standpoint for this football team, it's very important.

``I don't want to take lightly for me that it's very important because it is. But is it a career maker or breaker? No, I don't think that.''

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