Tennessee Stat Book
The University of Tennessee football family is backing coach Phillip Fulmer. Despite the Vols (6-3, 3-2 SEC) controlling their destiny to win the SEC East, Fulmer has been criticized this season by media and fans after losses to Cal, Florida and Alabama.
A full-page ad appearing in Friday's News Sentinel lists 191 former Vols supporting Fulmer including Peyton Manning.
The ad appears with the heading "An Open Letter From Tennessee Football Lettermen" and claims it's laughable that there's talk about Fulmer losing his job and if he did it would be a terrible loss.
The letter starts "For much of the this fall, various groups have voiced their opinions about the Tennessee football program and its leadership. The Athletic Department has heard from donors, ticket holders, sidewalk alumni, journalists and self-styled commentators.
But it hasn't heard from us. That is, until now.
We are former players. Our ranks also include people in each of the groups mentioned above.
Our perspective is unique. Our physical, emotional and spiritual investment in Tennessee football can't be measured - and probably can't even be understood without going through it. Let us be very clear:
We are proud that Coach Fulmer is the head football coach of our team.
We're glad that he leads and teaches the young men in our program. For some of us, those young men include our sons and other family members. He is what we want our children to be, and what we work to be more like every day of our lives.
The skills necessary to be successful aren't industry-specific. They include qualities like honesty, clarity of purpose, a daily commitment to improvement, discipline, attention to detail, focus, an incredible work ethic, the ability to work with others and a willingness to learn from adversity.
These skills do not become dated; time does not pass them by.
Coach Fulmer not only possesses these in abundance, he teaches them to young people. He represents the best of what a university can and should be. He prepares young men for life.
Given his accomplishments at Tennessee, the discussions surrounding his future here would be laughable - if the potential consequences weren't so serious.
Don't misunderstand us; the seriousness of the consequences has nothing to do with the possibility of Phillip Fulmer losing a job.
The terrible loss would be if the University of Tennessee lost Phillip Fulmer." To see a list of the former players and the ad, view the printed edition of the Vol Report in the left-hand corner.