Hamilton hints Fulmer won't get a raise

Tennessee men's athletic director Mike Hamilton said Monday he will give football coach Phillip Fulmer a one-year extension. But he stopped short of saying Fulmer would get a raise. In fact, he hinted Fulmer would not, saying he believes a raise should be performance driven.

``I believe raises are a result of exceeding expectation levels,'' Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Tennessee historically has won 70 percent of its football games. Thus, based on a 12-game schedule, Hamilton expects the football team to win eight or nine games.

``Then if you start exceeding expectation levels and doing special things like winning division titles or the winning conference championship or making BCS appearances, that's when I start thinking more about extra compensation,'' said Hamilton, noting that bonuses are given to coaches for bowl appearances.

Hamilton said he also considers the direction of the program, the overall feel of the program and what he sees down the road and recruiting.

Of those four categories, the only positive is recruiting. The Vols were ranked No. 1 in recruiting in 2005 and are headed for the top five this season.

Hamilton said a 9-3 season is a ``good'' season.

What about 9-4? What about losing the Outback Bowl to a mediocre Penn State team? What about the sour taste left in UT's mouth by losing the last game of the season?

``I've said before, we can be too negative over a bowl loss and too positive over a bowl win,'' Hamilton said. ``Frankly, one reason for waiting a few weeks (on the Fulmer situation) is to get it behind me and make a decision that makes sense based on a wholistic approach, not just on the emotion of a bowl loss that none of us were happy with.''

Hamilton said UT was more talented than Penn State and he was very disappointed with the defeat in the Outback Bowl.

Hamilton said he won't announce Fulmer's raise status until he decides what to do with the assistant coaches. He said the assistants will get raises. When the raises are determined, Hamilton will make a joint announcement.

Hamilton said he doesn't see a need to reach a decision before national signing day, which is Feb. 7.

If he wasn't ready to announce a raise, why did Hamilton say he was giving Fulmer an extension?

``Because I want him to be our football coach and because I plan on him being here for a while and my hope is he will retire here as our football coach,'' Hamilton said.

``I value the things he has meant to our university. And I think we're well positioned to do the things we want to do. That doesn't mean we haven't had some issues we need to overcome over the past couple of years.''

A fan suggested that as long as UT draws 105,000 a game in football, Fulmer's job is safe. Hamilton said that's not true.

You can bet that if UT has a losing record in 2007, regardless of whether attendance is at 105,000 per game, Fulmer will not be retained.

In fact, if Fulmer doesn't win an SEC title or get into a BCS bowl game in the next two years, I think he'll resign or be fired.

Tennessee has gone eight years without an SEC title, the third-longest drought in school history. Ten years without an SEC title will doom Fulmer.

Hamilton said he wouldn't keep a coach just because of the uncertainty that a new coach might not do any better.

Hamilton faced that decision two years ago with Buzz Peterson. He fired the popular men's basketball coach because he didn't believe Peterson could take the Vols where he wanted them to go.

Hamilton hit a home run in hiring Bruce Pearl.

Is there another Bruce Pearl on the college football scene? Perhaps, but Hamilton hopes he doesn't have to find out any time soon.

Hamilton noted the difficulty that even Notre Dame had in hiring a coach a couple of years ago before landing Charlie Weis.

``It's not as simple as fans think it is,'' Hamilton said in hiring a football or basketball coach. ``A lot of guys try to play you for more money at their place. A lot of guys are pretty happy with their kids in school at X, Y, Z Elementary.''

Having said that, Hamilton was forceful in his endorsement of Fulmer.

``We've got the right guy for UT,'' Hamilton said. ``That doesn't mean we're perfect or don't have things we need to work on. We do, absolutely.

``But in terms of growing up in this state and bleeding orange and wanting Tennessee to succeed and knowing what it takes to succeed at Tennessee and representing us well and not having major (NCAA) violations, and all those kinds of things, Phillip Fulmer is the right guy for this job.''

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