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Fulmer Talks UT, Accepts No Blame, Angles For AD Job

Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer — now an analyst for CBS College Sports Network — is angling for his old boss’ job in Knoxville.

Hey, hasn’t that one played out once before?  Someone get Johnny Majors on the phone.

Friends of Fulmer say that the coach has said privately that he would be interested in the athletic director’s job at Tennessee if approached about it.  That seat is currently occupied by Mike Hamilton… the man who just happened to fire Fulmer.

What better way to get revenge than to grab the AD job from the man who put you out to pasture?  Fulmer’s comments on a recent teleconference certainly suggest that he feels the University of Tennessee needs a change at the top.

“It’s terrible,” Fulmer said of Tennessee’s recent football troubles.  “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.”

“Changing the culture” has become a common talking point for Fulmer.  Now, I’m guessing Hamilton was looking for a football coach when he hired Lane Kiffin and it just so happened that Kiffin came from a different culture.  I doubt that Tennessee’s AD ousted Fulmer — and created controversy for himself — just to change the culture.  In fact, I think Fulmer’s record had a bit more to do with his forced resignation than any desire to change Tennessee’s culture.

From 1992 through 2001, Fulmer established himself as one of the top coaches in the nation.  The Volunteers went an impressive 94-20-1 (.817) on the field during that stretch.  UT also logged two SEC titles and a national crown (with an undefeated season in 1998).  That’s as good a run as the school had ever enjoyed.

But in the seven seasons from 2002 through 2008, Fulmer’s record dropped to 57-32 (.640) with zero conference titles.  The Vols also suffered two losing seasons in Fulmer’s last four years.  Before ’05 and ’08, UT hadn’t experienced a losing record since 1988.

In other words, it might be stretching it a bit for a man who oversaw that kind of decline to pass off all responsibility for the program’s current state.  Hamilton made a mistake in hiring Kiffin.  Kiffin made things worse in Knoxville.  But Fulmer had a hand in it, too.  That’s just not something a person admits when he’s angling for the job of athletic director.

Here’s a little more of what Fulmer is saying:

* “You’re looking I think at a fairly long-term problem, certainly with all the transition that the program has been through in the last couple of years from me to Kiffin, a good number of players that left the program, just I think a general attitude.  I know my last few years if you talked about only winning nine, it was an act of terror, and now they’re pushing and hoping to win six to get in a bowl game someway.”

(If “nine wins” was “an act of terror,” one can imagine how Vol fans reacted to his two five-win seasons.)

* “(Tennessee’s) not showing a lot of progress, or didn’t in the (second half against Oregon).  The first game their girlfriends could have played and probably beat (UT) Martin and then Oregon was obviously better.  There’s some teams that will be a little like (UT) as they go through the season and they need to get those wins.”

* “Obviously the last couple of years, all the uncertainty around the football program, the intent, or the seemingly intent to change the culture of Tennessee football just made it a very divided place.  As an alumnus myself, and obviously the years that I served there as an assistant and head coach, it hurts to see those kinds of things going on.”

* Fulmer also picked Florida to beat the Vols on Saturday.  That’s an honest assessment from a man paid by CBS to give his expert opinion.  He’s doing his job.  But you can bet some Vol fans won’t like it.

Bottom line — Fulmer isn’t about to accept any responsibility for Tennessee’s current fortunes, but you can bet he would accept the AD’s job if offered.

 


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  1. [...] Homepage | MrSEC.com Friends of Fulmer say that the coach has said privately that he would be interested in the athletic director's job at Tennessee if approached about it. That seat is currently occupied by Mike Hamilton… the man who just happened to fire Fulmer. “It's hard to watch something you've put most of your adult life into and had just played for the (SEC) championship (in and all of a sudden you're watching what's transpiring now through the program and an obvious attempt . [...]



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