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Texas’ Dodds Uses Fulmer, Saban To Defend His Football Coach

gfx - honest opinionFor a guy in another conference, DeLoss Dodds spends a lot of time talking about schools in the Southeastern Conference.  The Texas AD referenced a current SEC coach and a former SEC coach in an attempt to fend off critics of Longhorn football coach Mack Brown:


“I love stability.  I love continuity.  If you have stability, you have continuity and you’ve got good people.  It’s a formula that works.  I think we’ve got that.  If somebody tells me we need to change, I say, “Ok, but who should we hire?  (Nick) Saban?  Well, Saban isn’t going to come here.’ …

Mack does t so much better than everyone I’ve ever seen.  Instant gratification.  We want it right now.  And if it’s not working, we want to blow it up and get instant gratification.  In this kind of world, that’s not necessarily the answer.”


According to the reporter from The Daily Texan — the university’s student newspaper — Dodds also used the turmoil at Tennessee to defend his coach:


“Dodds pointed out that after Tennessee let go of Phillip Fulmer following several mediocre seasons, the Volunteers didn’t recover.  They went 23-37 in the last four years under Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley, who was fired last November.  Dodds doesn’t want that to happen to Texas.”


With regards to Saban, Brown is right… he won’t leave Tuscaloosa for Austin.  It’s not easy for even the biggest schools to snag proven, big-name coaches from big-time programs.  Florida’s last three head coaching hires have been two assistants and a guy from Utah.  Oklahoma’s last hire was an assistant.  Ohio State hired a man out of retirement to follow a man it hired from the FCS level.

Texas might have money and great recruiting, but that doesn’t mean a snap of the fingers would land the Longhorns Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly or Boise State’s Chris Petersen (who’s turned down every plum job in America).

As for Fulmer, it’s clear that he’s become the Patron Saint of Litmus Tests.  When Georgia fans became angry with Mark Richt after a single losing season in 2010, many fans said (and some in the media wrote) that Richt was experiencing a Fulmerian decline.  Tennessee’s woes were tacked to their ex-hall of fame coach and those woes were used to say, “We better move now and not wait around like the Vols did with Fulmer.”

Across the aisle, so to speak, administrators like Brown point to what happened in Knoxville as an example of why you don’t fire coaches until rock bottom has been hit.  Their thinking: “If Tennessee had held onto Fulmer they’d have righted their ship sooner.”

It’s not clear whether a Brown/Fulmer comparison, however, is any more accurate than a Richt/Fulmer comparison.  Like Richt, Brown’s struggles appear to be shorter lived than Fulmer’s were.  Richt had one losing season, Fulmer had two.  In Brown’s last three seasons he’s had one losing season.  Ah, but over that three-year span his record is 22-16 compared to Fulmer’s 24-15 2006-2008 stretch.

Still a wider look shows that Fulmer’s issues went back further than three seasons:


  Fulmer 01-08   Brown 05-12
  Record   68-34 (.666)   80-24 (.769)
  Bowls   6   7
  Conf. Titles   0   2
  BCS Titles   0   1
  BCS Bowls   0   3
  Top 10 Finishes   2   1
  Losing Seasons   1   4


Clearly, Fulmer’s last eight years weren’t on par with Brown’s.  In fact, it had been a decade since he’d won his BCS crown and the last of his two SEC titles.

But it’s no wonder Dodds is trying to tell Texas fans that the two coaches are peas in a pod — at 73 he surely doesn’t want to hire another football coach.  If the last coach he hires is Brown, his last football hire will have been a hall of famer who led the Horns to a BCS title.

While Fulmer’s dismissal at Tennessee will forever be debated, the key issue — in our view — isn’t the firing, but the hiring that was done after he was booted.  If a school axes a coach the result could be good or bad based on the next hire.  After firing John Mackovich in 1997, Dodds hired Brown from North Carolina where he’d gone 69-46-1.  But things sure worked out for a long time in Austin with Brown.

After Fulmer was fired, Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin.  His January, 2010 departure after a single season meant UT’s roster would go through back-to-back years of attrition and that the Volunteers would have to rush to hire their next guy (Derek Dooley, who had a losing record at Louisiana Tech).

Firing isn’t the gamble that hiring is.  You can fire someone to soon and still land a top coach.  You can also fire someone who needs to be fired and hire someone who’ll make matters worse.

That’s why ADs like Dodds will always use Fulmer as a scarecrow to shoo away cawing fans.  Most ADs secure in their legacies don’t want to tarnish things with an unnecessary gamble.




I will always believe in my heart Tennessee was very foolish to fire Phil Fulmer and history will be back me up if it has  not already. I know 100% that if he had been allowed to stay he would have had a winning season the next year. His problem was hiring a new offensive coach that ran a complicated offense that the players simply could not learn in one year and it cost him his job along with a restless fan base that have unrealistic expectations as I have been one of those fans that have thankfully wised up


@MrSEC well, Fulmer and Brown won NC's


@MrSEC what by saying they are both fat and overrated coaches?

JB TexasEx
JB TexasEx

Only a few guys would be an attractive option; Boise's Petersen, L'Ville's Strong and maybe Vandy's Franklin.  Whittingham? Perhaps.  Or maybe we go the top level assistant route.  Bama's DC, Kirby Smart?


I think Brown is on the slide, but I can't think of who I would hire who I also believe would come.  I believe strongly that the Longhorns made a run for Saban a year or two ago, but things have progressed to the point that it will never happen.  Really, who would you hire who would be a sure thing, or as close as any hire ever is?  John Gruden?  :)


 @JB TexasEx

 I mean, sure, we hired Saban, but do you know how darned lucky we were to avoid Richrod?  Do you remember how hot he was at the moment?


 @JB TexasEx

 Not trying to be a smart behind, but I don't think Petersen would come.  I believe Strong might, but you have to ask yourself why he did not go to Tennessee.  Did he just not want to butt heads with Saban, or was it too much of a mess financially, or is he set at Louisville?  I don't think Franklin is ready for Texas.  There are maybe three guys in the country who would be worth rolling the dice over Mack, who won two? title games and coached in a third.  Smart, possibly, but you can't have him.


 @JB TexasEx I look at the success that freeze just had on the recruiting trail, if he can get into that 8-9 win category at ole miss then he should be very high on texas' list.


Could Texas stoop to hiring Art Briles?  Would they still be able to play defense?


Kyle Whittingham?

JB TexasEx
JB TexasEx

 @I4Bama Petersen has turned down EVERYBODY. Word is, his family loves Boise and money isn't his prime motivation. Tough to pry him away especially if Harsin bad-mouthed UT on his way out.


I suspect Strong turned down TN b/c it's a tough job. Very little in-state talent. Alumni have unrealistic expectations, too. Comparing Vols to TX is apples & oranges. UT should be much easier to recruit and win.


Another rumor I've heard is Saban's wife doesn't like Tuscaloosa.  Doesn't mean he'd leave for UT b/c it's a lateral move and arguably a step down.  I'm not convinced his personality will play at Texas anyway.


JB TexasEx
JB TexasEx

 @aubieman2002 That's true, provided Freeze did it by the rules. SEC people have their doubts right now, from what I've read and heard.


 @JB TexasEx  @I4Bama

 "Comparing Vols to TX is apples & oranges"............... Aren't both Oranges?




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