Ad by former players support Fulmer


Full event details »

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.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2007, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2007 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 169

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

That's good to hear. As a supporter of Coach Fulmer and his staff, it is good to hear the former players take this initiative.

If there was inadequate coaching and development, I think these 191 people would be among the first to know.

Now, does anyone want to try to come up with 191 former players who will disagree with these statements?

tony3612#235512 writes:

It may be a bit of an overstatement,but haslem trumps them all and Phil is definitely gone if he loses saturday.Put that in your pipe and smoke it and say i told you so if they lose saturday baby.

BahamaVol writes:

It was easy to call for his head after that painful loss to bama, but now we are right back in the thick of the SEC championship race. Look at some of the coaches that Alabama got rid of after just a couple of marginal seasons and look what happened to their program. There are too many thugs in college football, and I like that our coach has integrity. It's all cyclical, and for now, I am saying Go Vols and Go Fulmer.

bigtimevol writes:

Hmmm...guess Pennington couldn't get in touch with these guys.

smitbo7 writes:

Can we truly believe that all these players signed off on this? Looks to be the Lettermen's Club President at work.

cmcfalls writes:

smitbo7 - If it were the Lettermen's Club President, why aren't all the lettermen on it? Why aren't some more recognizable names on it? They would get sued by some of these guys if they didn't actually give their permission for them to use their names on this. I know it's hard for some of you to actually think that former players support our Coach, but they do...

eb502us#225637 writes:

Gee, you'd think the KNS would at least post a graphic or link to the actual ad, instead of having to tell us word for word what it said. Then again, we're talking about the KNS here, whose credibility is already lacking with some of the brain-dead writers they continue to employ. Notice how this article says written by " News Sentinel Staff". Guess it took more than one of them to put this extremely difficult story together.

firefulmer (Inactive) writes:

BahamaVol---How about the loss to Cal and Fla? How about the losses the last five years? How about the pathetic post season record for the last nine years?

rootin4volz writes:

Good! And they're right! They know a heck of a lot more than the loud-mouth idiots that post all over this site!

nbt#658986 writes:

"We're glad that he leads and teaches the young men in our program...The skills necessary to be successful aren't industry-specific. They include qualities like honesty, clarity of purpose, a daily commitment to improvement, discipline"

Discipline? Was it all the discipline Fulmer instilled in McNeil that caused him to be at his home, drunk, with 3 drunken underage girls in his bed? Nice Disciline Fulmer.

GerryOP writes:

Sounds like the settlers sense that the attack is imminent -- they are circling the wagons!

GreerVol22 writes:

It doesn't change a thing. Win and your in. Lose you'll hear boos. TV revenue is way off, and a lot of legit high rolling donor dollars are on the fence, or have shifted to basketball. Still within the Athletic department but not directed at football. I'm just not sure 8-4 saves him. 7-5 will definately be bye bye even if the Pope puts an ad in the paper.

nextyear writes:

Too close! Can't see forest for trees. This program deserves a new coaching staff. Slippage has been for 6+ years. Dean Smith supported Buzz, and he knows something about Basketball. Arkansas is not sold out. But I will be there and I actually think we will win. My son and I will do our loudest to help out. Go Vols!

govols98 writes:

What - no Tony Robinson on the list?

CrankE writes:

In 1992, was Johnny Majors exempt from criticism of his character simply because the recent results on the field were good? Joe Johnson didn't think so. What was the thing he kept saying? "Relationships."

In 2007, is Fulmer exempt from criticism of the lack of results on the field simply because his character's okay and he develops young men?

191; A big orange salute from me. But what you have to say is an opinion. No different than anyone else. They're my team too. Does your opinion trump mine based on earning a letter? Does having good character excuse lousy job performance?

GO VOLS!

cmcfalls writes:

eb502us said - "Gee, you'd think the KNS would at least post a graphic or link to the actual ad, instead of having to tell us word for word what it said. Then again, we're talking about the KNS here, whose credibility is already lacking with some of the brain-dead writers they continue to employ. Notice how this article says written by " News Sentinel Staff". Guess it took more than one of them to put this extremely difficult story together."

Did you read the whole page buddy? There is a link to the actual ad right on this page. It's a PDF document. Sheesh.

DadwasaVol writes:

Yes, CrankE, former players' opinions do trump mine. I have cheered for 50 years for the Vols but I have never bled on the field for Tennessee like those guys. And I took it seriously when Jason Allen, from his hospital bed - not his living room couch - said stop criticizing the coaches.

volinexile writes:

I agree with ilove above. Pennington's article focused on former Fulmer players, whereas this is signed by players stretching back 4-5 decades. There is always strength in numbers, but in this case, the numbers aren't nearly as relevant. However, if they're going to get this many, I find it very relevant that there are very few names on there that were present during the 92-93 coup d'etat, especailly none of the prominent ones (Shuler, Stewart, Hayden, etc).

DennisVols writes:

This letter list the names of the players involved. A lot more creditability than a story with quotes from someone with not enough backbone to put their name on it.

leedsvol2007 writes:

The Letterman signing this petition know a helluva lot more what it takes to be productive as a football team than the vast majority of us. Their support of Fulmer is evidence that they don't think time has past him by or that the program is in poor shape.

Although I hated to see him on the sideline when he was the coach at Alabama Bear Bryant went through a similiar period. I think everyone would agree that either he or Neyland were the greatest coaches to grace an SEC sideline. And Neyland had his troubles and was hearing the same fan criticism if you read your history from 1946 through 1948. He then had dynamite teams from 1949 up to his retirement in 1952.

Starting in 1967, Bear Byant, and this is from memory so it might not be completely accurate saw his teams dip from a level that saw them win national championships in 64, 65 and not win one with what was thought to be his best team in that decade in 66.

From 1967 through 1974 they lost and had one tie in their bowl appearances. The tie was something like 41-41 to Colorado in a Liberty bowl appearance where he had to lobby just to get in it.

And there were embarassing losses like 35-0 to Missouri and 39-7 to Nebraska.

Sometimes in bowl games one team is more motivated than the other because one program is trying to make a name and the other is viewing the game as a reward. Sometimes one team gets to the bowl because of their marquee value while the other is really much better. Lets face it if you not playing for a national championship a bowl game is nothing more than an important exhibition game. The major benefit of a bowl is TV exposure, two weeks of practice, revenue, and fun for the players.

There is another factor here that has not been discussed. The team of Phil Fulmer and David Cutcliffe is more effective than Phil Fulmer alone. Anyone that saw the undisciplined team of 2005 could see that something was missing. Last year and this year's team is much better.

The reason I believe is that both have weaknesses but in different areas and the others strengths covers that weakness. So they are more dynamic as a duo than individually.

Even if this team were to end up 6-6 it is not a repeat of 2005 because the players have played hard, the recruiting has improved, and the discipline on offense has been much better.

Coach Fulmer currently has the best winning % of any coach that has coached more than 100 games. He deserves at least one more season to show that he is capable of bringing us back up the hill.

I believe he will.

GoVols!

craigjillians#231881 writes:

Fulmer was an assistant for years under Majors...Dolt!

vinnievol writes:

ditto that dlskaggs... and I disagree with marc, I don't see this as a "Major alarm"..

This was brought about because of the stink Pennington's article raised.. since those players were anonymous, I think that the majority of former players wanted to make the statement that "This is not the opinion of former players universally", as Pennington would like his readers to believe. This is alot more credible than the cheap shot Pennington threw out on gameday.

The_View_From_Memphis writes:

Here's a take from the left side of the state for all of you Fulmer haters out there. Be patient, he will win big again(very soon). The biggest differences that I see between the mid-to-late 90s(the glory years to you all) and the 2000s(the down years) are three fold, listen up:
1) Fulmer's quarterbacks in the 90s were DYNAMIC PLAYMAKERS(Shuler, Manning & Martin). His quarterbacks in the 2000s have been un-dynamic game managers. I like Ainge, and he is a good college quarterback, BUT, he lacks the ability to turn something out of nothing. In fact, all three of the West coast imports have had this same trait. Good for the Pac-10, but bad for the SEC. In limited action last season, I saw the passion and intensity in Crompton necessary to win championships. I can't wait 'til next year! Ironically, the indifference that Ainge displays on a weekly basis will serve him better in the NFL than the SEC. Memo to Fulmer and staff: No more west coast QBs. Don't recruit west of Texas or north of Kentucky.
2) THE SEC IS SIMPLY MUCH BETTER NOW!!!! In the 90s, UT basically only had to worry about Fla. and 'Bama. In the 2000s Auburn, LSU & Ga. all significantly improved. They all recruit now like UT, and this was not always the case. Check your facts before posting critisms!!
3) NO MORE WEST COAST QBs!!!! Again, kids from the west coast simply do not understand the passion and intensity necessary for success in the SEC. Kids from the southeast region have these characteristics ingrained in them.
There you have it, take it from a Vols fan from the west side. I get to see the U of M Tigers on a regular basis, and trust me, it's not nearly as bad in Knoxville as you guys think. Go Vols!!!

cgbtn writes:

Ultimately, the deciding factor will be the number of bowl game tickets sold. If UT does not win the SEC championship and get an automatic BCS bid, I do not think they can sell many tickets. I know a lot of folks dream of Christmas in Shreveport or Memphis, but I'm not sure they'll buy tickets. Might be able to sell some tickets for Nashville, just because it is in TN, but it'll be a tough sell. I just can't imagine the Citrus, Outback, or Peach bowls inviting the Vols. I think their projection of ticket sales would be similar to mine.

If your support CPF, put your money where your mouth is and make a pledge to buy a bowl game ticket, regardless of where the Vols play.

ColumbusVol writes:

It appears that the line has been drawn in the sand. The bandwagon has been making many stops this year to unload but, strangely, we have people getting on too.

This is simply a case of whether Fulmer is bigger than the university. They can care about the man, which is great, but the team, tradition, and that school on the hill will be around alot longer than he. If the current staff continues the drive to mediocrity, while our sec brethren continue to win titles. Well you know that something has to change.

phi0129 writes:

Yeah but did the ad mention anything about his ability to coach and direct a winning football team? I'm glad he is such a great person, that is great for the student athletes. But that doesn't make him a good HC!!!!!!

takebkknox writes:

I'm usually very critical of KNS but this time they could have easily just let the ad run and not give it any press. They decided to take the high road and I commend them for that. Good job. Now, if we could just get a local paper in Knoxville we'd have a good foundation for factual reporting and maybe less opinion.

vol52 writes:

Fulmer once said that Tradition does not graduate. If you people feel we are playing footall in the TENNESSEE Tradition then we have taken 2 or 3 steps down the ladder. My standard of TENNESSEE football has not changed. I expect a team not give up like two opponents have suggested this season. Fulmer should resign and lets move foward. I do want his associated with the University but not as coach.

mj54 writes:

So since I never played football for UT, I can't say that Fulmer should be fired?

By that same thinking, if you (other posters who think Fulmer is the greatest thing since sliced bread) never played for UT, then how can you know enough to say that he should stay?

This is pathetic. Having to get a bunch of former walk-ons and practice squad guys to sign a petition to keep the "greatest coach in College Football History" certainly doesn't speak very well for the job Fulmer has done.

Fulmer rested after the 1998 NC and realized that his loyal sheep would always defend him no matter what. Fulmer is more interested in keeping his close friends happy than he is winning game for UT.

Smokey57 writes:

Greer***22, we would all be really interested to know who you are, or at least where you get your information.
"TV revenue is way off"? Are you a network insider, producer, director of programming? How much is TV revenue off? Inquiring minds would like some numbers.

"A lot of legit high rolling donor dollars are on the fence, or have shifted to basketball"? Are you a wealthy booster that maybe subcribes to a secret Fulmer newsletter? And the number is?

(The donor dollars are) "Still within the Athletic department but not directed at football"? Oh, you must be an athletic department insider. Are you AD Hamilton? Tell us, Mike, where are those donor dollars being redirected? Is it all going to basketball too?

Be sure to attack me in order to sidestep the questions.

juicetke#226846 writes:

The only problem is that none of the points are supported. Specifically the one about skills not passing a coach by. I can supprot that it does. Just look at Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz and so on.

I had one of these lettermen as a high school football coach and you want to talk about the game passing you by. Try watching a team that runs the winged t even on 3rd and 20.

vinnievol writes:

Lots of stars on that list too.

rnorwood#343792 writes:

All subscribers here have the right to post their opinions. So, Fulmer haters - post on! I read info on this site daily, and post seldom. But, I do notice the same posters do not just express negative opinions about Fulmer alone. It might be Fulmer, Chavis, some player, the Newspaper or heck, even another poster. I too would like to see a better defense, and a better return game. But, I can remember, in the not too distant past, where the defense was the best group we had. I was grumbling at the time about the offense.

I can't say I would be extremely upset if Fulmer left, because, like others I immediately would be optimistic about the future. But I am concerned about what we might get. I live in KY now and see and hear this Big Blue phooey all the time. But look at Louisville-not faring so well. Look at KY basketball. They hired a new coach, and just got beat by a school that carried a name that I thought was an insurance company (Gardner-Webb). Alabama has struggled, and so has Nebraska and Miami. I guess I'm saying I'm not so sure that simply changing coaches is the Vol's answer. I've been a Vol fan for many years, and will continue .....whether Fulmer and crew are the coaches or not.

bigbluevol writes:

Yeah, Turk McBride, Jonathan Wade, Clausen, Overstreet, Ofenhuesle, Haynesworth and many others were all walk-ons. Oh wait, that's wrong. As for whoever said that many of those players weren't there when Fulmer was, many of those players were from the 80's and later. Fulmer was on staff then. They know him and they obviously think highly of him. Including those who were coached by Majors (that was for you, tngeoff). Others, like Pat Ryan are around the program.

Southland writes:

hey, the battle is over. Fulmer will stay and until he retires there will be no SEC Championships, No National title runs, no player development, no significant bowl wins, but 1000's of excuses such as "the SEC is better now" and statements such as "dadgummit we control our own destiny". Get ready to enjoy or endure humilating defeats to Florida, LSU and Alabama and Auburn when we play them. and oh yeah, more games on the big channel called PPV.

lfevol writes:

mj54- This letter was signed by former lettermen. Which means that they were scholarship players that saw a lot of playing time. They are not a bunch of "former walk-ons and practice squad guys".

auttat writes:

Thanks for the history lesson, CR. we all needed it. Did you have a point, cause I missed it?

There was an article on the site yesterday about $83.5 million in guaranteed revenue from Host Comm. TV revenue seems to be doing ok.

tenvolone writes:

This ad is VERY disheartening to me. We seem to be headed in the wrong direction, yet our former players are approving of this fall from prominence. I don't get it...

Carlitovol writes:

Well cry me a frickin' river. OK, fine, let's all just hug, hold hands, sing "koom-ba-ya" (sp?) around the campfire and meanwhile let our program slide into complete and utter decay.

Who cares - Knoxville is now officially a B-ball city.

As long as Fulmer remains, we remain irrelevant and mediocre. Stay the course, blah blah blah.

Razorbacks by 20. Book it, Charlie.

vinnievol writes:

CR - You are focusing on those guys and ignoring the stars on that list to support your argument, nice.

scttmcdonald#551862 writes:

After a quick glance of the names on this letter, I am finding myself asking:

1) Where is Travis Henry?
2) Where is Willie Gault?
3) Where is T. Martin?
4) Where is Heath Shuler?

Any name on this petition between 1974 and 1980 is invalid as Fulmer was at Wichita State U. and Vanderbilt, thus having no impact on those signees (which equates to 11 signatures)

bigbluevol writes:

Good to see that a lot of people on here think they know more than Peyton Freakin' Manning about football. The guy comes around every summer, is in communication with the quarterback and knows what's really going on. That's more than I can say for ANYONE on this board. It's obvious that people are divided about Fulmer, but it's also obvious that people that have a clue are on his side. As for it being sad, tenvolone, you're right. It is sad that so much griping has led to the division of a fan base and a response from actual players. If some of you are so crazy about basketball, then don't waste your time on the football articles. But, where were you when UT was losing? You were saying, "Who cares, Knoxville is a football city." Don't break your legs jumping on and off the bandwagon.

bigbluevol writes:

Shuler has already supported Fulmer in other articles. Sadly, Henry has other issues going on, Martin has supported Fulmer on "Talkin' Football." I don't know about Willie Gault. There's a lot of other impressive names on that list, though.

waterskier3#226480 writes:

listen vol nation... the bottom line is our expectation as fans is to have a team that is competitive and tn has been non competitive for years now.. yes we've had a couple of 10 win seasons but we lost the championship games easily and our bowl record is down right scarey... so stop telling me about all the teams that have switched coaches and struggled.. lets look at it as taking a chance and if we get the wrong guy we fire him in 3 years and get the right guy and win a championship within the next 4 years... we are not going to win a championship with fat phil in the next 7 years... so which would you rather have??? its all about performance and that's it... the same reason regular every day joes get fired..... they sux at what they do.....

I don't think that's asking much of a guy making 2.2M.

Hixson_Vol writes:

I have set my goals lower because I realize the Orange Mafia led by Don Fulmer and his minions will never leave. They have a strangle hold of power that they will never give up. I have Fulmer working in my favor, though. He has already proven time and time again that he is not afraid to stab an ally in the back to keep his power position. Fulmer will fire Chavis at the end of the year. You can take that to the bank.

iowavol writes:

Good stuff - the article and affirmative posts that is. Glad to see these guys do it before Hamilton commits a travesty and actually respondes to the nitwits on talk shows and internet sites. If Crompton can perform like I think he can and if we find a d-tackle or two, I like the chances of having a really good team next year. This year, I'm just glad we are bowl eligible. On the other hand, Duke has had a couple of tough years in bball, perhaps they should fire Coach K - surely the game has passed him by.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

I never played football, didn't go to UT, went to and taught at rival TN schools, work for one now. My only connection really is that I am from Sewanee, know the Majors family and had Johnny's mother for third grade. I know Johnny and knew his father who was the coach when I was at Sewanee. But I've passionately followed the Vols since Dickey's bowl game against Fla. I loved what Johnny got done at UT, didn't like the succession mess (but when isn't that sort of thing a mess?), and have greatly enjoyed Fulmer's tenure. I consider him a great coach, administrator, and recruiter, and a very good man who represents UT wonderfully well. That this many ex-players sign this ad is highly significant to me, and I agree with every one of their points. The only sad thing is that they had to put it up in the first place, but from our shabby treatment of Bill Battle on down, some of us haven't handled any downturn well at all, to put it kindly. I support Fulmer now, I'll support him if we beat Arkansas, and I will support him if we lose. At no time in the history of football have there been so many good teams in the whole country, not to mention the SEC, where you can argue that every single team could beat a top team, where the whole SEC East might end up bowl eligible. That Fulmer still has the glittering record he has in this climate is astonishing, and you haters/bashers don't know how good we have it.

JohnyLobo34 writes:

Fulmer has a lot of good qualities and he's a great recruiter. But UT needs to change the way it plays football. I'm tired of watching DB's chasing receivers down field. Mix up the zone coverage with some press or man to man on the receivers. When was the last time a DB really covered a receiver. The swarming linebacker thing is OK too. But we've gotta mix that up. Let's try a 3-4 if there down linemen are weak. Chavis has been doing the same tired stuff forever. On offense: THROW THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD!!!!! Throw some crossing routes. The act is stale; CHANGE IT!

bigbluevol writes:

We don't know the time frame in which this was put together, we don't know how many people had contact information, we don't know how many people didn't answer their phones, we don't know how many people didn't return phone calls for any reason. The fact is that every single player in that number you gave could have put his name on the list, and people would still criticize it. Nice math skills that you displayed. It only took you 22 minutes to post that.

vinnievol writes:

CR, how could one possibly go back and get every player from every year to put their names to this? That would be impossible. Again, what in the world is your point?

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features