KNOXVILLE - For decades, Tennessee fans have painted The Rock, with messages ranging from marriage proposals to football-frustration related threats. Yesterday, however, heat and humidity caused the accumulated paint to slide off The Rock in one heavy mass. But it's what local officials found wedged into the paint mass that's really amazing: former athletic director Mike Hamilton. Hamilton remains under observation in a Knoxville hospital, but we interviewed him over the phone.
EDSBS: Mr. Hamilton, how did you end up paint-entombed into The Rock?
HAMILTON: It's still pretty fuzzy. Last I remember, I was in my office with Jimmy Cheek and a couple of boosters, talking about what we were going to do with the baseball team. Things got pretty heated; there was still a lot of disagreement over whether we should have fired Bruce Pearl. I'm pretty sure one of the boosters hit me with a table lamp, and when I woke up, students had bungeed me to The Rock and started painting.
EDSBS: Why did the booster attack you?
HAMILTON: I said I wanted to give the baseball job to Bobby Valentine.
Paramedics attend to former Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton after freeing him from several layers of paint.
EDSBS: This would have been over four years ago, though. How did you manage to survive all this time?
HAMILTON: Well, from what the doctors tell me, my body's developed a unique mechanism that wound up saving my life. Where normal cells start to die without oxygen and nutrients, mine simply deflects the blame for those failures to other people. In essence, I was able to survive by replacing food, water, and air with scapegoating. If Lane Kiffin hadn't left the program the way he did, I might not be here talking to you today.
EDSBS: What do you plan to do now?
HAMILTON: Once the doctors clear me, I'm getting right back to work. I was AD when I got painted into The Rock, and I expect to be AD now that I'm out. There's a lot to be done, especially with football season coming up. How many SEC titles has Derek Dooley won by now, anyways?
HAMILTON: No biggie. I was gonna can him and get Norm Chow in here anyways.