Fulmer taking time to reflect on moment

Clemson could be a destination

Drew Edwards

Coach Fulmer's last game

After claiming a 28-10 victory over Kentucky in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night, Phillip Fulmer left a winner.

And even though he would have chosen a different time to make his exit as UT's football coach, it would be difficult to find a more suitable ride.

The old offensive lineman who played the first significant snaps of his career on the same field nearly 40 years ago was carried off it, game ball in hand, on the shoulders of a pair of his offensive linemen.

"That was actually Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster's big idea, but we all talked about it," center Josh McNeil said. "Those two guys are the seniors up front and they wanted to do it. I think it's very fitting for two offensive linemen to carry coach Fulmer off the field."

Said Fulmer: "I don't know if I can describe it."

Despite the fact that Saturday's game was billed as Phillip Fulmer Appreciation Day, Fulmer said afterward he didn't want the game to be all about him.

"I didn't want it to be about me," he said. "I'm not trying to be noble when I'm saying that because I really felt like our guys needed to be focused on the game and the preparation and getting themselves in position to play well. If we did that, then everybody was going to be more pleased."

Fulmer addressed a packed media room for nearly 20 minutes after the game, reflecting a bit on UT's 5-7 season before he begins to reflect in earnest about his future after Tennessee.

One possible opportunity that has been mentioned is Clemson, which fired Tommy Bowden earlier this season.

On Saturday, Fulmer said Clemson is the kind of place he would like to coach if he coaches again.

"This is a very special place and it would take a special place for me to go to," Fulmer said. "Being unemployed right now, I'm interested in those kind of jobs, because that's a special place."

Fulmer again said he's been advised to take his time and perhaps take a year off, but he didn't rule out the possibility of coaching somewhere else next year.

"Certainly if it's the right place and it has the same kind of passion that the Tennessee people have - and I felt like I could have the same kind of passion there that I've had here - certainly that's something that I would look at," Fulmer said.

Fulmer declined to say if Clemson had contacted him as part of its search.

"They've got an interim coach (Dabo Swinney), and I think he won today," Fulmer said.

"I think that very well may be what they choose to do. If that's the case, then I think it's probably what the good Lord is telling me. I do believe when one door closes, and another one opens. If that's not the one that's open, there'll be one somewhere - if I choose to do that."

Fulmer also talked about UT's underclassmen, saying they'll adjust to a new regime, which will begin this week with the pending announcement of former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin as the Vols' new coach.

"To me, they ought to win every football game next year," Fulmer said, smiling. "How's that for putting pressure on the new guy?"

Fulmer also couldn't help but wonder aloud what might have happened if UT hadn't lost early games against UCLA and Auburn.

"People don't like to hear this - and I don't like to say it, necessarily - but a couple of fumbles and an emotional thing with Wyoming, we just won our eighth game," Fulmer said.

"They'd have to give me a raise and extension. Wouldn't that have made them mad?"

For defensive end Robert Ayers, the prevailing feeling from Saturday's game was that a season that went wrong in many ways ended on the right note for players and coaches.

"I feel like that's how a legend should go out," Ayers said. "On top."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 27

bluetickhound writes:

Ooooh Fulmer. We'll certainly miss you. BUT this had to happen. Nothing was going to change if you were given more time. You're an ex-offensive lineman, and it took your (senior led) O-line 5 tries to punch it in at the goalline tonight. Then, they couldn't do it again in the fourth quarter (Jones had to run a sweep). I don't care how much film you would have been studying, those are the types of fundamentals that simply shouldn't be a problem at the end of the season. I'm thankful for all you've done for the program, I'm glad that we've only lost to KY once in my lifetime, but it's time to Ctrl+Alt+Delete this program.

FWBVol writes:

in response to bluetickhound:

Ooooh Fulmer. We'll certainly miss you. BUT this had to happen. Nothing was going to change if you were given more time. You're an ex-offensive lineman, and it took your (senior led) O-line 5 tries to punch it in at the goalline tonight. Then, they couldn't do it again in the fourth quarter (Jones had to run a sweep). I don't care how much film you would have been studying, those are the types of fundamentals that simply shouldn't be a problem at the end of the season. I'm thankful for all you've done for the program, I'm glad that we've only lost to KY once in my lifetime, but it's time to Ctrl+Alt+Delete this program.

Nobody will ever know whether or not things would have changed if Phillip Fulmer had been given more time. That's a moot point now.

I have said all along the biggest problem with the UT offense this year was the O-Line. As head coach, yes, Phillip Fulmer was responsible for the play of the guys up front. However, I guarantee you that in Phillip Fulmer's day as the offensive line coach the Vols would have easily made that yard without needing five tries.

FWBVol writes:

Tom Mattingly or some others might be able to help me out here. I can think of only one other former Vol that was a player and coach that invested as much of his life into the Tennessee program and that was George Cafego.

Have a great rest of your life Coach Fulmer.

BSweet writes:

Wow, that raise and extension comment was a smack in the face. I've read a lot of negative comments about Hamilton from people upset with him forcing Fulmer to resign, but the only complaint I have against him is the contract he gave Phil last year. I'm sorry, but 8-4 is mediocrity. How does that deserve a raise and extension? And no, I'm not saying 8-4 is unacceptable, but a raise and extension? And of course, Fulmer so loves the program that he thinks mediocrity is good enough? That comment alone shows me it was time for a change. You can say it came from a man upset about losing his job, but the fact is, he found this acceptable last year, before he lost his job. I wish Coach Fulmer well, but I think his comment was in poor taste. Raises and extensions should be earned through excellent job performance, not mediocrity.

Caspian writes:

"People don't like to hear this - and I don't like to say it, necessarily - but a couple of fumbles and an emotional thing with Wyoming, we just won our eighth game," Fulmer said.

I respect what Fulmer has done at Tennessee. But he's got a blind spot, and it shows itself with this comment of his. He appears stubbornly out of touch in certain ways. Not to mention having a comfort level with mediocrity. Thanks for all the great memories coach Fulmer. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Now it's time for a change with Tennessee football.

rockytop4ever writes:

"They'd have to give me a raise and extension. Wouldn't that have made them mad?"

Thats funny coach its about time you got a shot or two in. Thanks for the memories. Go Vols!

Kiffinville writes:

I almost teared up (seriously) as I watched the great Fulmer being carried off the field. Thank you coach Fulmer for your years of service to the great state of Tennessee.

But it was time for a regime change, folks. The mighty Vols will rise again. Welcome to K-Town Coach Kiffin.

MidTennVol writes:

I've written this elsewhere but, with these new comments from Fulmer and Chavis, will write it again:

Mike Hamilton has condemned his name to infamy in the way he has handled what should have and could have been a graceful, respectful coaching change.

First, he decided to not wait until the end of the season to fire Fulmer. He leaks that news to Chris Low the Sunday after the SC game, throwing the entire program into turmoil.

Second (and utterly sleazy, in my opinion), he leaks news of Kiffin's hire on the eve of Fulmer's last day and "Philip Fulmer Day" at Neyland.

"Somebody either doesn't understand kids or it's not important to them," Fulmer said. "I was afraid of that throwing another wrench in everything." Darn right, Coach Fulmer.

Hamilton has completely disrespected Coach Fulmer and his staff in the way he has handled this. And I am a guy who felt Coach Fulmer should have resigned after the 2005 season or at the very latest at the end of this season.

With his treatment of Fulmer, Hamilton has completely destroyed relationships with former players. Think Peyton was loyal to the program because he's an alum -- or loyal to the program because of Coach Fulmer? Don't expect Peyton to be on the sidelines of many games in the future.

Hamilton is not yet a Vol, nor is Kiffin. As Chief says: "It's been a long time since somebody sat at the end of the table that was not a Tennessee guy. People wanted change. They got change."

At least 10 wins per season and championships, Mssrs. Hamilton and Kiffin -- that's the Frankenstein expectation of excellence that this staff is handing to you. It's the Frankenstein that killed Coach Fulmer this year.

Deliver consistently and you'll perhaps start a new tradition at Tennessee. Deliver consistently and you will start earning your way to becoming a true Vol.

Deliver consistently ... or face Frankenstein.

writer#358485 writes:

Those who consider 8-4 mediocrity have no understanding of the parity in football today. Tennessee will regret this for a long time. Go Coach Fulmer! We'll see you on the field again and rue this day. Go Vols! Just don't expect to see a 75% winning percentage and a national championship again for a long, long time. People like Fulmer only come along once or twice in a lifetime. Like Adams said, we finally learned the new offense against Kentucky. Fulmer would have had us back next year. Kiffin is a total unknown.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

in response to rockytop4ever:

"They'd have to give me a raise and extension. Wouldn't that have made them mad?"

Thats funny coach its about time you got a shot or two in. Thanks for the memories. Go Vols!

Amen Bro, bittersweet, but none the less SWEET! About time he got his licks back. And he has the gall to tell the next coach to win 'em all!! What a hoot!! Next thing we know he's writting for the news sentinel, castigating the UT football program and getting away with it like you know who. And what if he does go to Clemson, or God forbid to South Carolina and start taking our recruits and build a winning program there?? Ha Ha, he's still a pretty positive guy!! Got to hand it to him, he went out on a RIDE!! God bless his players, they've shown a lot of class and a heck of a lot of endurance. This guy is now a FOLK HERO. HE'S BEEN BORN AGAIN HERE!! AND NOW HE'S WORSE THAN EVER. SWEET REVENGE! We knew that we were right in defending this man. God bless us, each and every one. Amen, and love America! Power to the troops, and to the Republic!!

rusty_shackleford writes:

I don't blame CPF for getting in a jab or two...it's human nature. But coach, please don't turn into the bitter old man who now is Johnny Majors.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to Caspian:

"People don't like to hear this - and I don't like to say it, necessarily - but a couple of fumbles and an emotional thing with Wyoming, we just won our eighth game," Fulmer said.

I respect what Fulmer has done at Tennessee. But he's got a blind spot, and it shows itself with this comment of his. He appears stubbornly out of touch in certain ways. Not to mention having a comfort level with mediocrity. Thanks for all the great memories coach Fulmer. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Now it's time for a change with Tennessee football.

Excellant post.

"comfort level with mediocrity".

Good luck,coach. Spend your millions wisely.

cltvol writes:

Is Bob Stoops a trus Sooner?
Meyer a true Gator?
Saban a true tider?
Brown a true Longhorn?
Whats his name a true Trojan?
Tressel a true Buckeye?
Miles a true Tiger? (he's not that good)
Richt a true Bulldawg? (he's not that good II)
Are Sky box wallflowers true fans?

Different time, different era, its a money game. Traditon is out (see GM) Change had to be made. I appreiate CPF amd what he did, but he got paid very well plus the 6 sticks to leave, so no sympathy here.

Waldorf writes:

Ironic - If Parker and Foster had halfway lived up to their billing as good linemen this season, this probably isn't happening. Glad to see them finally do something on the field other than turning around to watch our QB or RB get killed because they missed another block.

I still don't understand how so many people can't see that the Fulmer of 2005-2008 is not the same Fulmer of 1993-2001. He had a great run. He changed the conference. He also was caught and passed by a lot of coaches the last few years. I'm thankful for all he did for the program, but Tennessee Football is bigger than Phil Fulmer. His time had passed and it was time to go another direction.

If this doesn't work, Hamilton will be gone and there's a 95% chance that Fulmer will be the AD. It may not be the popular move, but Hamilton made the right move for Tennessee football.

TommyJack writes:

Don't coach anymore, coach. Your skills have eroded. No matter where you go, you're not gonna have the TN aura, tradition, facilities, national exposure, etc. to help you recruit. Don't be like a washed up major league hanger oner.
Keep your reputation intact. Free advice from Ol' TJ. Use it wisely. Who knows, you could return some day as AD. Go to Swayback and relax.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to bluetickhound:

Ooooh Fulmer. We'll certainly miss you. BUT this had to happen. Nothing was going to change if you were given more time. You're an ex-offensive lineman, and it took your (senior led) O-line 5 tries to punch it in at the goalline tonight. Then, they couldn't do it again in the fourth quarter (Jones had to run a sweep). I don't care how much film you would have been studying, those are the types of fundamentals that simply shouldn't be a problem at the end of the season. I'm thankful for all you've done for the program, I'm glad that we've only lost to KY once in my lifetime, but it's time to Ctrl+Alt+Delete this program.

Blue Tick you refer everything to a goal line stand..What about the years they were winning 9/10 games year, SEC Championships, Natl.Championships, and don't forget Fulmer was an ex-offensive lineman. Oh yes, 08 was a bad year, but it was 3/4 plays from being a good year with 8/9 wins..Fulmer will rise again and be OK.. I also wish the new coach much success.

TommyJack writes:

in response to rusty_shackleford:

I don't blame CPF for getting in a jab or two...it's human nature. But coach, please don't turn into the bitter old man who now is Johnny Majors.

Maybe Phil and Johnny will now play bocce ball together. Then again, maybe not.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to Caspian:

"People don't like to hear this - and I don't like to say it, necessarily - but a couple of fumbles and an emotional thing with Wyoming, we just won our eighth game," Fulmer said.

I respect what Fulmer has done at Tennessee. But he's got a blind spot, and it shows itself with this comment of his. He appears stubbornly out of touch in certain ways. Not to mention having a comfort level with mediocrity. Thanks for all the great memories coach Fulmer. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Now it's time for a change with Tennessee football.

I don't think Fulmer meant by any means that he would accept 8-4 over the long run.

This year was in effect a perfect storm for his removal. A new quarterback and offensive system needed to be broken in.

His previous losing season 2005 was to close to this one to fully insulate him from its effects.

Saban has had a breakthrough 2nd year at Alabama and as we now know Florida appears to have its best team since '97.

8-4 would have carried him through to keep working to build us back to the level we all want to see. And he was acknowledged to have lined up a great recruiting class.

It is within reasonable question as to whether he could have gotten back to the 95-2001 level but he would have bought time to try with 8-4.

If Kiffin is our guy we need to get behind him and give him all the tools for success.

GoVols!

b.skelton#207404 writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Blue Tick you refer everything to a goal line stand..What about the years they were winning 9/10 games year, SEC Championships, Natl.Championships, and don't forget Fulmer was an ex-offensive lineman. Oh yes, 08 was a bad year, but it was 3/4 plays from being a good year with 8/9 wins..Fulmer will rise again and be OK.. I also wish the new coach much success.

If we were 3/4 plays away from an 8/9 win season this year, then we were 4 plays from a 5-7 season last year.

I thank CPF for all that he has done for the Vol football program. But, we need to remember, he has 6 million reasons to have good memories from his time as the Head Coach on the Hill.

wally writes:

Fulmer reveals his true colors with some very telling comments. He really comes off like a jerk.

For starters--Fulmer declined to say if Clemson had contacted him as part of its search--(that's because Clemson has not contacted him...nor will they be contacting him)

"To me, they ought to win every football game next year," Fulmer said, smiling. "How's that for putting pressure on the new guy?" (yea, this 5 & 7 team is poised and ready for a national championship run next year...maybe with some decent coaching)

"People don't like to hear this - and I don't like to say it, necessarily - but a couple of fumbles and an emotional thing with Wyoming, we just won our eighth game," Fulmer said.

"They'd have to give me a raise and extension. Wouldn't that have made them mad?"

Don't let the door hit you in the "rears off" as your leaving. We bid you farewell.

volfan1971 writes:

in response to b.skelton#207404:

If we were 3/4 plays away from an 8/9 win season this year, then we were 4 plays from a 5-7 season last year.

I thank CPF for all that he has done for the Vol football program. But, we need to remember, he has 6 million reasons to have good memories from his time as the Head Coach on the Hill.

that was a GOOD post, Bones. How easily last year could have been like this year.

calvolfromkingsport writes:

Thanks for the memories coach. I guess this year was a time for change, maybe overdue. I thought your statement was made off the cuff and very appropriate and very revealing to the insecurities of many of the posters here about their true feelings. Lol! Only an insecure knucklehead(and there are many of those loonies that post here) would blame you for your comments after the severe treatment from a minority of fairweather Vol fans. May heaven help the next coach win at all costs.Tennessee football will never be the same with your leaving coach, and I for one, will never take your efforts for granted.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Don't coach anymore, coach. Your skills have eroded. No matter where you go, you're not gonna have the TN aura, tradition, facilities, national exposure, etc. to help you recruit. Don't be like a washed up major league hanger oner.
Keep your reputation intact. Free advice from Ol' TJ. Use it wisely. Who knows, you could return some day as AD. Go to Swayback and relax.

18 Clydesdales got pie-eyed and broke free after reading your post. LOL

jackbwana writes:

I'm betting Phil stays in the SEC with the opening at Miss. State. He just might be the one to pull the Bulldogs out of the bottom and make a bigger fool of Hamilton.

Greyback_Vol writes:

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Fulmer.

It wasn't always the easiest ride, but we appreciate the time, dedication, and love you displayed for UT football.

Never has there been anyone who more deserved to be called a true Volunteer.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Tom Mattingly or some others might be able to help me out here. I can think of only one other former Vol that was a player and coach that invested as much of his life into the Tennessee program and that was George Cafego.

Have a great rest of your life Coach Fulmer.

That would be a very good call...Coach Cafego was the bridge between the ages.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

Most any season can swing from pretty good too pretty bad on just a few plays.

Anyone who understands football knows that.

Add to that the parity today (it's like a micro of ncaa basketball, anybody in the top 40 can beat anybody else on any given saturday) and you get wild swings - LSU is 7-5 this year.

The young, and some old, Tenn fans are quite spoiled...our second year without good qb play in 20 and you think you see a trend...trends in football are decades in the making.

This University's football program will be fine...it's current President may not, nor its current AD...and my guess is Kiffin will do well...he comes from football royalty and has a great football mind...plus he doesn't have (as Coach Dickey puts it 'a marketing problem'); but there will be growing pains, along with opportunities. Let's hope it just stays clean, sportsmanlike and honorable - because those things have to go along with winning or it doesn't mean a thing. And if you think otherwise, well your immature.

My family has had season tickets since 1950. My first game Bobby Scott was qb...we beat Florida...seen lots of wins and lots of heartbreaking losses - from condrege holloway and jimmy streeter to this sat.

Along the way I earned two degrees from the this University and sat on the Faculty for ten years...I had 18 players in class off of the 98 Championship team in class, many of them more than once (that would be different courses, not repeats).

Nobody on here wants to win more than I do, and everybody who ever put on the uniform or coached a game wants to win even more than you can imagine...but one thing they do is show SPORTSMANSHIP.

Some of you on here haven't a clue what that is...most of us know who you are...I wonder do you know who you are?

Go Vols!

It has been like a funeral, for a while Saturday it was like a Dirge...but in the end The Coach came out and showed why he IS The Man (A MAN VERY FEW OF YOU ALL COULD EVEN IMAGINE BEING, MUST LESS BE) and while some littler men are now in charge of My Alma Mater's football program(not Kiffin...he is blameless), the Institution is bigger than them.

And unless you can SING THE ALMA MATER with some legitimacy...shut the F### up!!!

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