Blog Entry

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

Posted on: November 3, 2008 3:52 pm

Phil Fulmer called me.

When an SEC head coach calls out of the blue he doesn't want to borrow a few bucks. It was a couple of years ago. The Tennessee coach had called about some mindless thing I'd written in a blog. It was during the seemingly endless run of the program's off-field problems at the time.

I had posted something flippant in a blog which, for me, wasn't surprising. What was surprising was Fulmer calling at that moment (I was in the Atlanta airport), at that time (it was in the middle of summer) to pick a bone.

I had no problem with it. In fact, I wish more coaches would call in person if they have a problem with a story. It can't hurt and keeps the lines of communication open. We hung up that day with whatever problem there was, resolved.

Still, I thought it was odd that a high profile, big-time SEC coach would call me about a blog. I'm no expert on blogs but, to me, you can get away with certain things in a blog that you might not in a regular story. As long as your name is on it, then it's just another way of communicating.

Anyway, it seemed that day that was Fulmer was cultivating a media "friend." Nothing wrong with that. I'm closer to some coaches than others. I wouldn't call any one of the I-A guys "friends". First, they're in a different tax bracket. Second, a guy like me is basically a bug smashed on their windshield.

Our common interest is between the lines. In this business, it's always nice if you can call or text a guy and just gossip. We're not all about ripping.

As we know now, Fulmer didn't have many friends in the media at the end. The only thing easier to beat up before Monday was a piñata.

That was unfair. Fulmer is one of the decent ones. He's not a crook. He's doesn't have a fundamental personality flaw that needs to be addressed by professionals such as one Robert Montgomery Knight. He is a son of the South, a proud Vol and a hell of a coach.

His sin was letting the program get stale. It happens. Everywhere. Former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer once said that after 10 years the average NFL coach gets stale no matter what. The message becomes old. The players stop listening. It's time to go.

Phil Fulmer lasted 17 years if you count his 4-0 record in 1992.  He delivered five SEC East titles, two SEC titles and a national championship. As recently as 11 months ago, Tennessee was playing for the SEC title.

Still, things were stale. The popular theory is that the loss of offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe contributed to the downfall.  I don't think even Cutcliffe could have made chicken salad out of Jonathan Crompton. That Tennessee -- once the cradle of quarterbacks -- couldn't find someone better Crompton was an indictment of Fulmer's recruiting.

I talked to a big-time offensive coordinator last week who had visited the Tennessee staff in the offseason. He had nothing but good things to say. Believe me, he would have ripped them if it was warranted.  This guy holds nothing back.

Still, things were stale. It was more than irony that the loss that finally got him out was to his old nemesis. The Old Ball Coach, lacking some of his old mojo, punked Fulmer one more time.

 Everything started to change for coaches everywhere at the beginning of this decade. Bob Stoops won a national championship in his second year at Oklahoma. He was followed quickly by Jim Tressel who won in his second season. Urban Meyer did the same thing in 2006.

Maybe Phil should consider himself lucky for getting this far. Fans have little patience, especially when three other SEC coaches have either gone undefeated and/or won national championships since Tennessee's in 1998.

The fifth-winningest active coach in I-A was only third in his own  conference. Patience? There is little left these days for coaches who don't deliver immediately, or enough. Fulmer's departure also makes it four I-A coaches this year who have either resigned or been fired during the season.

Things were stale, maybe, but how many ADs would like a .766 coach? That's why it will take something special for Fulmer to get into coaching right away. He is overqualified for most jobs. His star has dimmed, perhaps, in the SEC. His dignity would prevent him from going to non-BCS level for a job.

Shed no tears. The guy is walking away with at least $6 million from Tennessee. He still has a lot of energy left. I'm thinking he might resurface as an offensive line coach in the NFL. There's a lot less crap to deal with at that level.

Where does Tennessee go from here? First, whoever is hired must know that it's AD Mike Hamilton's neck on the line too. Hamilton got mouthy in Fulmer's final days, basically throwing his coach under the bus. The AD better deliver, big time. That means a coach capable of recruiting his butt off (Tennessee simply doesn't have many players), winning more than 75 percent of his games and, oh yeah, delivering a national championship.

Does that eliminate defensive coordinator John Chavis? He seems to be a popular choice. Mike Leach is going to be mentioned for every opening and then end up on the sidelines again next season for Texas Tech. Hamilton might go the up-and-coming route. Tulsa's Todd Graham and Cincinnati's Brian Kelly have been mentioned.

If it comes to that, I favor Kelly. Michigan dismissed him out of hand because he had once coached at Central Michigan. Bad move. Tennessee shouldn't be limiting itself. That includes at least a courtesy call to Steve Spurrier to see if he is interested.

After the laughing dies down, Spurrier might give Hamilton a couple of names.

Kelly, though, is the no-nonsense type who has won a Division II national championship and been able to succeed at two non-descript mid-majors (Central Michigan and Cincinnati).

Tennessee is a destination job. After being at three schools in six years, Kelly could retire in Knoxville. One other thing: Kelly knows how to develop quarterbacks.

At a program that is in decline but hasn't crumbled, that's a great place to start.

Category: NCAAF

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2008 11:39 am

Fulmer was not a good human being

Dodd and some of you try and soften the blow to Fulmer by saying he was a decent human being overall ????
Why dont  you ask Johnny Majors what kinda man stabs you in the back while your in the hospital getting heart surgery  and lobbies for Johnny's job not to mention Majors give him a job on the UT staff ???
Ask some colleges that he threw under the bus,most notably Alabama, when he had a paper trail  from Mobile to Knoxsville connecting UT to paying Tee Martin threw Western Union. The NCAA approaches Phil and tells him they will let him slide if he helps set up Alabama in what we call a quid pro quo in legal circles( he ran a clean program huh Dodd).
Lets not forget the numerous rape charges he covered up with intimidation with his power attained threw being  the coach of  the most recognized team in that state or the fact that he ran off numerous educators who blew the whistle on him for trying to fix grades.
What about that Dodd ? Take that and say he ran a clean program ... what a load of dung ,  Doddy Boy !

Since: Mar 8, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2008 11:25 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

This was a long time coming.  Fulmer made it to the SEC championship last year but other than that he has done nothing for them lately.  He was given plenty of chances sometimes you just need to cut ties.  Then again some people may have said that about JoePa at Penn State, and look where they are now. 

Spurrier will always hold his grudge against UT, enough said.  Seeing him at Tennessee just wouldn't look would look like him as coach of the Redskins.....o wait.

Since: Nov 4, 2008
Posted on: November 4, 2008 11:10 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

Is Penn State stale? No, but yes....

In every conference there are power house coaches that can do it all.  In the 1990's Joe Paterno (Penn State) was just that.  With a winning percentage of .79% and competing every year for a Big Ten championship/National Championship there is no arguement they were a top Big Ten program. 

However since 2000 Penn State has gone "stale." From 2000-2007 Penn States winning percentage is .57% with 4 losing seasons.  A main reason for the decline was the uprising new "star head coaches," Lloyd Carr (Michigan) and Jim Tressel (Ohio State).   During this time period Ohio State's winning percentage was .80% and Michigan's was .73%.  Many will argue that because Penn State is having a good year in 2008 it negates the fact that in the past 7 years they have been sub-par.  The Big Ten is severely down this year with Michigan's head coach going "stale" a retiring and Ohio State's coach possibly going "stale" losing every big game he's been in since he won the national championship in 2002.  Penn State may win the Big Ten this year and land a spot in the National Championship game, but will lose to a hungry head coach. 

That being said,

Phil Fulmer was a great coach and once a great recruiter, but the league has changed.  Urban Meyer, Lez Miles, Nick Saban, Bobby Patrino, Steve Spurrier and etc... all in one league!?  Fulmer is out-dated and needs to be replaced with someone who can compete against these great coaches who can "do it all." 

Since: Nov 6, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2008 10:14 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

College football is now beyond the level of insanity. The true spirit of the game is no more. The expectations are simply ridiculous and NCAA college football is officially NFL Minor League. Too bad that Fulmer - who deserves it much like Lloyd Carr did last year - didn't get the chance of walking out on his own terms. Happy days for impatient and unreasonable fans, sad day for college football.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: November 4, 2008 8:23 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

This is actually a good article from Dodd.  College fottball, much like the NFL, is a "what have you done for me lately" league and nobody has done more for Tennessee football in recent memory than Fulmer.  I also agree with Dodd that things simply got stale.  That does happen.  I'm not a UT or Fulmer fan, but they were always the team in the SEC that I loved to hate.  You can't get that status if your no good.  Anyway, Phil can look back on his UT career and say he had a good one...

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2008 5:36 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

Okay, I would rather lose every game than have Teabag as a QB! He is the biggest FAGG!! Let him go molest some more Philippino boys! You guys are a joke and Meyer, what an idiot! We care more about stuff than just winning! We have values and respect. Ohhh you don't know about those. No shock, you are scum bags. God forbid a Gator actually got a degree!!!!! I know it is rare much like the white gator!

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2008 5:25 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

Preach brother! I am with you drinking the cool aid!!! GO VOLS!!

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2008 5:21 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

You must be the dumbmest piece of shit to ever come out of someone's ass! He also coached Westbrook! Hmmmm terd boy maybe there is a common denomanator! Besides your obvious ignorance!

Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: November 4, 2008 4:42 am

The end of the Phil Fulmer era

Shut up Jackass! Yeah and Spurrier can't win anything anymore just ask the Redskins!

Since: Apr 1, 2008
Posted on: November 4, 2008 3:27 am

Fulmer = Good guy

"Fulmer was one of the good guys."

Love it. Great to see you still have that doddball sense of humor in you, DD.
As always, you're welcome to perform at my events anytime, my friend.

- Metrix

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