His football coach was conducting a post-victory news conference. Laughs all around. Not a shred of tension in the room.
Less than 24 hours earlier Hamilton had been in Madison Square Garden watching his basketball team pull off a significant and unexpected victory.
It was, in short, a good weekend to be a Vol.
Football and basketball are the flagship sports of the University of Tennessee men's athletic department. For the past few months words like "embattled" and "turmoil'' have been frequently mentioned in the same sentence with both.
The Reader's Digest version is that football is on its third coach in three seasons and basketball's shining star of a coach has been seriously tarnished by bad judgement dealing with the NCAA.
As October ended, the football Vols were 2-6 and facing the possibility of producing the worst record in the history of the program.
And while the basketball Vols were in solid shape on the court, coach Bruce Pearl had summoned a dark cloud over the program by lying to NCAA investigators.
We interrupt this doom and gloom to bring you a Thanksgiving weekend update.
Friday night, Pearl's Vols upset No. 7 Villanova 78-68 in New York to win the NIT Season Tip-Off. Saturday at Neyland Stadium the football Vols got by Kentucky 24-14 to complete a four-game winning streak and get eligible to play in a bowl.
"A good weekend for sure,'' said Hamilton, the men's athletic director.
Now, bringing home hardware from the NIT won't cut Pearl or the program any slack when the NCAA dishes out penalties sometime next spring.
Nor does administering the annual spanking of Kentucky indicate Derek Dooley has the football program back on the threshold of the Sugar Bowl.
Still, a little celebrating is welcome on both fronts, even if it's temporary.
"I think people see hope,'' said Hamilton, "and hope is what a lot of this is about in college athletics.''
Hope and perception.
When the basketball Vols arrived in New York earlier in the week, the media was waiting for embattled Pearl to talk about the NCAA turmoil.
"Pearl, Vols search for redemption" read a headline on the New York Daily News web site.
After wins over VCU and Villanova, the general theme was the "resilient" Vols "returning the focus to basketball" and perhaps "the rest of the Top 25 may also want to take note.''
"It was,'' said Hamilton, "a really solid win on a great stage when a lot of people were watching.''
The football team has been on an upbeat run through November. But losing to Kentucky would have been a double bummer: no more Streak, no more bowl.
"When we were 2 and 6, a lot of folks were wondering where we were headed,'' said Hamilton.
After taking care of business Saturday afternoon, to a bowl is where the Vols are headed.
"It's very important for our recruits,'' said Dooley, "to see that Tennessee does not stay down long.''
Both programs are still looking at some tough days ahead. But for one weekend at least, they seemed more distant.