Fulmer denies contact with Razorbacks, calls Arkansas 'a great place'

UPDATE: Phillip Fulmer officially denied contact with Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon, but told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he considers the program championship-ready and "a great place."

"I have not been contacted by Arkansas," Fulmer said.  "But I think Arkansas is a great place."

But it was Fulmer's next statement that left the door open, should the Razorbacks decide to officially contact the former Tennessee head coach.

"When I left Tennessee, I was asked if I would coach again, and I said I would consider it if it was at a place where I could compete for a championship," Fulmer said.  "Arkansas does qualify as that kind of place, as there is a very solid foundation there."

Former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer has been in contact with Arkansas regarding the open head coaching position, according to a former assistant coach.

Doug Matthews, an assistant coach at Tennessee for 10 years, told the 3HL show on 104.5 in Nashville that the Razorbacks have reached out to Fulmer, who has not coached since his 17-year tenure at Tennessee ended in 2008.

"I know Phillip has had conversations with them," Matthews sad on the air. "And when I say them, all that is going to take place behind the scenes."

Matthews went on to suggest that Arkansas is waiting for the completion of spring practice - the spring game will be held this Saturday - and then an evaluation will be made. If the administration feels comfortable promoting from within, Matthews said, that would be the first choice.

"But I think they'll either go with a guy that they've got on the staff or they'll bring in someone to be - caretaker's the wrong word - but bring someone in who has been through it all before."

After reports that he had interest in replacing Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, former NFL and college coach Steve Mariucci told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd on Sunday he had not heard from the Razorbacks.

"I just had a few phone calls from my son and a few friends asking what's going on and to be honest I hadn't heard about it," Mariucci told CBSSports.com. "It comes as a complete surprise to me.

"I haven't ruled it out [coaching again]. I enjoy what I do now. If something comes up that makes sense, but I've had no contact with Arkansas."

If the Razorbacks do decide to promote from the current staff, many believe that current interim Taver Johnson or running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Tim Horton are the likely candidates.
CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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