Posted by Tom Fornelli
Phillip Fulmer has spent much of his adult life as a Tennessee Volunteer. He first played for the Vols as a guard from 1968-1971 before joining the coaching staff as a student coach following his graduation. Then, in 1980, he was named the team's offensive line coach. He eventually worked his way up to head coach, taking over the job in 1992 and keeping it through 2008. Now he spends his time as an analyst for our very own CBS College Sports Network, but just because he's no longer on the sideline in Knoxville doesn't mean he's stopped bleeding orange.
Based on his comments during a teleconference on Tuesday, after seeing his former team play this season, he's doing a lot more bleeding than he'd like to .
“It’s terrible,” Fulmer said. “It’s hard to watch something you’ve put most of your adult life into and had just played for the (SEC) championship (in 2007) and all of a sudden you’re watching what’s transpiring now through the program and an obvious attempt to change the culture of Tennessee football that failed.”
Actually, Phil, Lane Kiffin did change the culture a little bit. He managed to make everyone in Knoxville incredibly angry, and brought the NCAA to town before taking off for USC. So now Derek Dooley has a nice little mess to clean up, and Fulmer does feel that Dooley is doing a good job getting the process started.
“I think Derek’s doing a good job,” Fulmer said. “He’s doing what he has to do. He’s saying the right things, and when a coach has to talk about his team’s effort, that’s not a good sign. In the second half of the (Oregon) football game I think he thought his guys didn’t try as hard as a Tennessee football team is expected to try.
“He’s got some players. (Running back) Tauren Poole is obviously a guy that’s talented, but there’s a lot of work to be done, you know, at quarterback and defensively. There’s just a ton in the short term to be done and more importantly he’s looking at the big picture of the program long term, to recruit and get Tennessee back at the level that they’re expected to be at."
I can echo Fulmer's and Dooley's concerns about the Vols effort in the second half against Oregon . While watching the game there were two distinct halves of football being played. In the first half the Vols were flying all over the field and looking like a team capable of pulling off an upset, but the second the Ducks tied the game and then took the lead, it seemed as though the energy had been sucked out of Tennessee.
Instead of battling back they looked like a team resigned to a loss.
Something Dooley definitely needs to take care of in Knoxville, and not a task I envy him having to complete.
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