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Knoxville Columnist Blasts Ex-Tennessee Coach Fulmer

gfx - they said itYesterday, ex-Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer made news for blaming the Volunteers’ recent football decline on his former bosses.  “We had four presidents in six years,” Fulmer said.  “We ended up with an athletic director that wasn’t prepared for the job.”

He then added: “When you have a great president and a great athletic director and you replace them with substandard people that have no idea, what do you expect is going to happen?”

Ouch.

Today, however, it could be that the ex-coach is the one saying “ouch.”

Knoxville News Sentinel columnist John Adams took a look back through columns past and put together a scathing retort to Fulmer’s take on history:

 

“His recruiting dropped off.  His hires weren’t as good.  And he couldn’t keep up with the competition when other SEC schools upgraded their coaching.

Of course, Fulmer doesn’t see it that way.  He never did.

When a last-minute drive against Alabama swerved off course in 1994, Fulmer cited a poor decision by then freshman quarterback Peyton Manning.

When Florida blitzed the Vols 62-37 in 1995, Fulmer singled out Larry Binion for an awful punt.

When the Vols were overwhelmed by Kansas State in the 2001 Cotton Bowl, Fulmer’s telling postgame quote was directed at offensive coordinator Randy Sanders.

‘I don’t know what Randy was thinking,’ Fulmer said.

The 5-7 season of 2008 was characterized by Fulmer as a ‘perfect storm,’ as though a series of supernatural events had combined to sabotage the program.  If pressed on the subject, Fulmer probably would have thrown his first-year offensive coordinator (Dave Clawson) and his quarterback (Jonathan Crompton) under the bus.

Anybody by the head coach.”

 

That’s a lot damning stuff, but in truth, Adams needed only to invoke the name Manning to make his point.  Countless Tennessee fans likely started Googling and Binging to see for themselves how Fulmer once placed blame on the patron saint of all things orange.

While the number of college coaches who take blame for every misstep in their program can be counted on one hand, Fulmer — as Adams so brutally points out — was always happy to play the blame game.  And most fired coaches do not have very nice things to say about the men who fired them.

In other words, Fulmer’s comments about ex-Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton (and Hamilton’s bosses) shouldn’t have been surprising.  They were actually par for the course.

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SEC Headlines – 9/10/12

SEC WEST

1.  Auburn’s problems “have been created by a lack of developed talent.”

2.  Gene Chizik’s sticking by quarterback Kiehl Frazier even after a pair of rough games.

3.  The Tigers took notice of their next foe’s win last Saturday: Louisiana-Monroe over Arkansas.

4.  This writer warns Alabama: “Hunting wounded, angry razorbacks” isn’t easy.

5.  Without Tyler Wilson, Arkansas’ offense sputtered and died.

6.  “The season may only be two games old, and there is plenty of football remaining to be played, but all of that hope is gone” from Fayetteville.

7.  So far, so good for LSU and Les Miles.

8.  Bo Wallace looked good again as Ole Miss whooped up on UTEP…

9.  But Texas visits Oxford next.  (Think A&M fans will be pulling for their new division rivals on Saturday?)

10.  Quarterback Tyler Russell might have been Mississippi State’s MVP on Saturday, but the Bulldog defense was pretty good, too.

11.  There were plenty of positives for Texas A&M to take from its loss to Florida on Saturday.

 

SEC EAST

12.  Will Muschamp knows Florida’s identity: “We’re gonna grind it out.”

13.  Georgia’s coordinators both want to keep WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell on their side of the ball.

14.  As we predicted this summer, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is getting good production from Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith.

15.  Steve Spurrier isn’t saying whether Connor Shaw will be ready to go by Saturday or not… so UAB is prepping for both Shaw the runner and Dylan Thompson the passer.

16.  Shaw likely won’t practice until Wednesday at the earliest.

17.  A Top 25 ranking and a visit from ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew are ramping up the hype in Knoxville for Tennessee’s game with Florida on Saturday.

18.  The Vols will be looking to snap a seven-game skid against the Gators.

19.  Despite preseason hope, Vanderbilt’s offense hasn’t taken a step forward.

20. Missouri’s banged up offensive line must find a way to improve before Saturday’s game with Arizona State.

 

SEC/COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Pat Forde and Yahoo! Sports tagged along with Mike Slive as he visited College Station and Columbia on Saturday.  (Good read.)

Here’s a High-Def super slo-mo look at Texas A&M’s first day in the SEC.

Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno?  Yes, please.

Report: Wisconsin cans O-line coach after just two games. 

CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd has seven SEC teams in his Top 25.

The SEC has handed out its honors for the week.

UPDATE — Look away, Hog fans.  Here’s some interesting background on how Louisiana-Monroe pulled the shocker of the weekend.

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Louisville Whips Kentucky; Has Series Hurt The Cats?

The Cardinals ran over the Wildcats 32-14 as the defense let Joker Phillips’ team down.

Louisville was in sync as Kentucky just sinks.

Phillips: “You can’t give up 76 yards on four-plus drives.  You can’t do that, and we are better than that on defense.”

D-coordinator Rick Minter: “It’s demoralizing and unacceptable, especially when a team can do that running the ball.”  (UK gave up 219 rushing yards.)

Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders hopes QB Maxwell Smith “proved something to all the UK fans” with his excellent 35-0f-50 passing performance.

Has the Kentucky/Louisville rivalry helped or hurt the Cats?

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Smith Gets Starting QB Gig At UK

Morgan Newton got off to a disastrous start for Kentucky last season.  The starting quarterback in last year’s season opener, Newton is coming back from off-season surgery on his throwing shoulder as well.  So it’s no surprise that sophomore Maxwell Smith was named UK’s starting quarterback yesterday.

The only real surprise is that it took so long for Joker Phillips to make that call.

It’s possible that Phillips and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders wanted to have a true competition in fall camp.  It’s possible that they knew Smith was their guy all along — he did take over for Newton last season — but they wanted to push him.  It’s also possible that Smith didn’t take the job and run with it in the way the coaches had hoped (though they have said otherwise).

Regardless, Smith is the right man for the job.  Newton looked flustered under fire last season.  And freshman Patrick Towles — “the next Tim Couch” to many Wildcat supporters — is too young for a coach on the hot seat to turn to.  Smith makes the most sense.  And he showed improvement over the course of last season.

Smith first got playing time against Florida, LSU and South Carolina last season.  The results: 7 completions in 19 attempts for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.  Not good.

But after Newton went out with an injury, Smith took over in full and began to make strides.  In his final four appearances of the season (against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Georgia), he completed 77 passes in 134 attempts for 769 yards, four TDs and two interceptions.  Much better.

More telling, his yards-per-attempt improved from a ridiculous 2.63 in his first three games to a somewhat healthier 5.73 in his last four contests.  If he can make improvements again this season, the Wildcat offense should be nowhere near as anemic as it was for much of last season.

For his part, Smith says he now knows Kentucky’s playbook.  Sanders admits that his young pupil has made improvements, but he laughed at the “knows the playbook” notion:

 

“He’s still wrong, but the nice thing now is at least he knows what he didn’t know.  There is still more for him to learn.  He’s worked very hard at it and he’s so far beyond where he was.  Last year I used the analogy that we were teaching him Algebra I.  Well, he’s way beyond that point, but I don’t think he’s quite into the (trigonometry) part of it yet.”

 

He may not have to be.  As UK fans learned last year, even a steady quarterback like Mike Hartline — who was hardly a crowd favorite in his day — can be good enough to win some games.  In fact, if Smith can even sniff Hartline’s senior year production (3,178 yards, 23-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio), he’ll be a Bluegrass State hero this fall.

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SEC Headlines – 8/3/12

1.  Athlon Sports lists the 10 biggest SEC storylines of fall practice.

2. Will Muschamp says he feels good about Florida’s quarterback battle.  (Ever heard a coach say, “I really hate our quarterback situation?”)

3.  Georgia opened practice yesterday.

4.  UGA has released its 2012-13 basketball schedule.

5.  Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders thinks his squad will be better than last year.  (That shouldn’t be too tough.)

6.  Here are five questions for South Carolina this fall.

7.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley has a lot more players to choose from and use this fall.

8.  Quarterback Jordan Rodgers is now the clear leader of Vanderbilt’s football team.

9.  Missouri quarterback James Franklin looked “pretty darn good” yesterday as he comes off of shoulder surgery.

10.  The first report of Alabama’s first fall practice has been filed.

11.  Auburn no longer has Mike Dyer at tailback but the Tigers do have depth.

12.  Only two players were absent from Arkansas’ first practice session.

13.  LSU players know better than anyone that the only ranking that matters is the one you have after the final game.

14.  Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen says he’s not going to answer injury questions anymore.  (Childishly, he even stood up and threatened to leave the room when asked about a specific player.)

15.  Ole Miss started fall practice without two key freshmen yesterday.

16.  No shock, quarterback tops the list of questions at Texas A&M.

17.  A 5-7 bowl team?  An FCS bowl team?  Sure, why not?  (I used to be against all the bowls, but if some kid gets to play in a postseason game in Hackensack, good for him.  No one will try to make me watch it.)

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UK Hoping QB Smith Is Ready To Learn

At this time last year, Kentucky fans were worrying about the departures of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.  The exit of quarterback Mike Hartline?  Well, that was viewed as a positive by many.

But as Morgan Newton struggled mightily as the Cats’ signal-caller, Hartline’s work the previous year looked better and better by comparison.  Eventually, UK turned the ball over to true freshman Maxwell Smith.

Against Florida, LSU and South Carolina, Smith was just 7-of-18 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in get-your-feet-wet duty.

He didn’t play the following week against Jacksonville State the next week, but he did finish up his season — he missed the Tennessee finale with an injury — by completing 77-of-134 passes (57%) for 769 yards (192 per game) with four touchdowns and just two picks.

Clearly, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders finally someone under center who knew what he was doing.  Just don’t tell that to Sanders:


“Max didn’t know anything last year.  He knew just enough to survive for the most part…

The more he understands and the more he can anticipate, the more he can throw the ball accurately.  We’ve got to get to where he understands enough that he can make everyone else’s job easier instead of everyone else trying to make his job easier.”


As for the man Smith replaced, Sanders was brutally honest.  “Obviously, if you’re a quarterback and can’t throw in this offense, then you’re pretty limited.  He’s got to do the best he can do with the mental reps and what’s going on, being able to see it and learn from other people’s mistakes.”

Newton won’t do any throwing this spring after undergoing surgery this offseason.  So the #2 behind Smith will be Jacob Russell, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky.

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Video: Tee Martin’s trip back to Tennessee

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Kentucky wide receivers coach Tee Martin talks about his trip back to Tennessee, where he led the Vols to a national title.

UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, himself a Tennessee grad, talks about trip back to Knoxville.

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