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College Football Notebook: Fulmer defends career

Associated Press
The college football notebook …
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Phillip Fulmer spent a lot of time Tuesday defending himself and dismissing speculation about his job security.
Fulmer said at Tennessee’s weekly media day that most of the talk about his job being on the line has been “misinformation,” though he said he doesn’t bother paying attention to much of it.
“In the short term here, it’s not where anybody wants it to be, starting with me,” he said. “I’m just going to go to work and do the very, very best that I can for the Tennessee people, the Tennessee family, the administration and whoever.”
The Volunteers (3-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) haven’t beaten a ranked opponent this season and took an early exit from the race for the SEC East title. Every remaining game, starting with South Carolina on Saturday night, is a must-win if the Vols want a shot at playing in a bowl.
“We’re in the age of instant gratification and what have you done lately. I understand that,” Fulmer said. “Hopefully we can give everyone good encouragement about winning and what we’re going to do in the future, with how we play.”
KIFFIN INTERESTED
Ex-Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has expressed interest in the opening at the University of Washington just hours after the school announced Tyrone Willingham will not return next season.
Kiffin was fired less than a month ago during his second season with Oakland.
SOUTHERN CAL
Seventh-ranked Southern California appears to have an excellent shot at going 11-1, an achievement that would have given the Trojans a berth in the national championship game last January.
Now, it might not even be good enough to put them in the Rose Bowl, much less the BCS title game. But USC finishes by facing five unranked teams starting Saturday when winless Washington (0-7, 0-4) visits the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Trojans (6-1, 4-1) also has home games against California (5-2, 3-1) and non-conference opponent Notre Dame (5-2), and road games against Stanford (4-4, 3-2) and crosstown rival UCLA (3-5, 2-3).
PENN STATE
Having squeaked past defending Big Ten-champ-BCS-title game-patsy Ohio State Saturday night, Penn State now looks to be in the driver’s seat for a spot in this year’s BCS title affair Jan. 8 in Miami.
The Nittany Lions (9-0) stand third in this week’s BCS standings behind Texas and Alabama. But consider Joe Paterno’s cushy remaining schedule (at Iowa next week, Indiana and Michigan State at home).
THE BIG LEAST
After several years of confounding experts that predicted its demise, the Big East may have to face the music at a BCS game in January. No Big East team is ranked in the A.P. top 20 of this week as West Virginia (5-2) leads the league with a 2-0 conference mark. Yes, the Mountaineers also lost to East Carolina and Colorado.
NOTES Kudos to Idaho for ending the nation’s longest losing streak at 18 games with a 20-14 win over New Mexico State. … It will be extremely tough for No. 6 Texas Tech (8-0) to get through a grinding stretch of No. 1 Texas, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 9 Oklahoma State in the next four weeks unbeaten (not to mention the Big 12 Championship Game).

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