UT's Stability's No Liability

When Phillip Fulmer's contract was extended to seven years with a bump in pay, everyone fired off an opinion on the deal, but now as the smoke begins to lift and vision clears anyone can see there are sound reasons the move was made and that it's paying off in the arena of recruiting.

Questions that dogged the head coach and his assistants along with an exodus of the offensive staff, are no longer a problem. The new assistant coaches have brought renewed life to UT's recruiting drive and have opened new territories in the process.

Furthermore, they've had great success ranging far and wide in search of the right talent to fit UT's overhauled offensive system. A mix of the old and the new has had favorable early results and the program appears to have positive inertia heading into the 2008 campaign.

If the Vols surprise most prognosticators by putting together a top ten season and earning a BCS bid, UT will absolutely clean up with the rest of the Class of 2009. There are several top prospects that want to see what Tennessee will do on the field this fall before committing their next four years.

The fact they are still interested in Tennessee has a lot to do with the extension Fulmer signed. It clears up his status, gives him more leverage in the living rooms of prospects and parents, and it further solidifies UT's place among the most stable college football programs in America.

Although he wasn't speaking about Tennessee directly big offensive lineman Morgan Moses, a prospect the Vols are pursuing with vigor, summed the situation up well when he was asked by Gold and Blue publisher Kevin Kinder what he was looking for in a school.

"I am interested in playing time, and I want to play with good players and win," said the 6-foot-7, 332-pound, four-star prospect. "But I also want to play for the same coaches my whole career. I don't want to go through coaching changes. I want them to be there the whole time I am there."

Moses isn't the only gridiron star with such concerns, but he's certainly among the largest, and his opinion carries weight because it's the same one that virtually any player signing with a program has at least to some degree. And the further away you go to sign a prospect the greater his concern is likely to be.

Since Tennessee can't win in the SEC without recruiting successfully out of state, and since Fulmer's track record recruiting high profile out-of-state prospect would stand with any of his contemporaries, signing the lifelong Vol and able Big Orange ambassador seems like a pretty smart move by UT AD Mike Hamilton.

Especially at the price they signed him. He still ranks in the lower half of SEC head coaches in terms of base pay, but his contract is loaded with incentives and benchmarks, so he could easily rise into the top four during most years.

The tradeoff is UT provides more years which means more money paid out if the contract has to be bought off in the early years. Still the Vols weren't likely to go out and hire a coach with as much success and experience as Coach Fulmer for the money they paid him.

And we have to remember this experience is virtually all at Tennessee which gives him unique insights into what it takes to succeed on The Hill and in the SEC.

As for Morgan Moses, who hails from Richmond, Va., he has some 30 offers and he's still wide open. Among his early favorites are Florida, Miami, MIchigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. He took an unofficial visit to Knoxville this summer and stated his intention to return for an official visit this fall.

A lot awaits the gridiron giant on his trip to UT, but there will be no questions about Phillip Fulmer's future.

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