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Phillip Fulmer On Former Tennessee A.D. Mike Hamilton: “Wasn’t Prepared For The Job”

Phillip FulmerTennessee football hasn’t finished the season with a winning record since 2009. Former coach Phillip Fulmer, who was forced out at UT following a 5-7 season in 2008 thinks he knows he reason why.

In Gulf Shores, Alabama this weekend at SEC BeachFest, Fulmer put the focus on previous leadership at the university, including Mike Hamilton’s stint as athletic director.


“What happened to us basically was our leadership. We had four presidents in six years. We ended up with an athletic director that wasn’t prepared for the job. Not a terrible guy or anything like that. He got twisted like a pretzel by the middle management of the university. We lost a lot of the edges that you have to have. (Current athletic director) Dave Hart’s very aware of those, and he’s working to change things. We didn’t get dumb or lazy all of a sudden. There were obviously some things that were different.

“When you have a great president and a great athletic director and you replace them with substandard people that have no idea, what do you expect is going to happen? And you do that three other times? It’s crazy.”


Hamilton replaced Doug Dickey as AD in 2003 and served in that position until he resigned in June of 2011.  Tennessee has had five presidents in the past decade.

Fulmer voiced his support for the current football coach. “I like Butch Jones a lot.”

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New Bama A.D. Battle Talks About His Decision To Leave Coaching Behind

bill-battle-nowNew Alabama athletic director Bill Battle ran a pair of companies worth billions.  He played for Paul “Bear” Bryant in Tuscaloosa.  He was friends with the man he recently replaced, Mal Moore (who passed away on Saturday).  But he was also an SEC football coach at one time.

From 1970 through 1976, Battle coached at Bama’s rival, Tennessee.  Hired to replace Doug Dickey, Battle was the youngest coach in America — just 28 — when he took over in Knoxville.  He had plenty of early success, but his record declined sharply in the few years leading up to his firing.  Still, most coaches don’t post a 59-22-2 record and then leave the game forever.  The Ron Zooks of the world start over again at lesser programs.  The Mike Archers become assistants.

But Battle walked away after his Vols saw their win total drop from 11 to 10 to eight to seven to six during his tenure.  Why the exit?


“We had some really good teams at Tennessee and a few that weren’t that good.  I decided well before my time there ended that I didn’t want to be a 65-year old coach.  Now, I didn’t want to get out when I did. But my kids were growing older and I wanted to have time with them, and I wanted to try the business end of athletics.  I didn’t know if I would be out of it for a year and want to get back in.  I had some friends in coaching who were that way, who were miserable when they weren’t coaching.  I had some chances to get back in, especially in that first year after I finished at Tennessee.

But I had a great opportunities with Larry Striplin.  I enjoyed what we were trying to build.  Larry was a dynamic man, a smart man, and we experienced great growth.  It was a great experience for me and I decided to stay with that, to stay out of coaching.  Managing a business is a lot different than coaching, but there are parallels.  You’ve got to get great talent, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to stay ahead of the competition.  So I loved business.  But I do want to say I had a wonderful experience at Tennessee, wouldn’t take anything for it.”


Striplin hired Battle to run a window company for him in Selma, Alabama.  While working with Striplin, Battle developed the vision for his own business, Collegiate Licensing Company, which has become a billion dollar operation under current owners IMG.

Having been fired as a coach, Battle was asked in a quick Q&A by if he might have to pull the trigger on any Alabama coaches in the near future.  “We will take the blueprint we have in place, we will meet with the executive staff members who have the responsibility for each sport, and we will see what we are doing well and what we need to improve,” the ex-coach said.  “And if there are issues, or opportunities that we are missing, we will deal with those things.  Over the next few months, we will do a lot of that.”

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