Coach Fulmer's last game
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Tennessee Stat Book
Even during Phillip Fulmer Appreciation Day on Saturday - a 28-10 victory over Kentucky at Neyland Stadium - it was hard not to talk about Lane Kiffin, who has been tabbed to be Tennessee's next head football coach.
Current head coach Phillip Fulmer chimed in on the change, only to say he was concerned that the news leaking out on Friday could have had an adverse effect on his team.
"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."
Fulmer said he addressed the situation before Friday afternoon's walkthrough, just hours after the News Sentinel reported that Kiffin would be UT's next coach.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis said the pregame Vol Walk was tough, but special. Then he weighed in on the coaching change.
"What's amazing is those are the true fans out there," Chavis said. "Those aren't the million-dollar people that sit up in the sky boxes and sometimes make decisions without knowledge of what they need."
When asked what he would want the next coaching staff to know about UT's traditions, Chavis vented once again.
"The tradition has changed," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that the University of Tennessee had one of the greatest traditions in college football and it was a unique situation because it truly was family here.
"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."
Center Josh McNeil offered some insight on Kiffin, who recruited McNeil while coaching at Southern Cal in 2004.
"You could tell from just talking to him on the phone, he's a very personable guy," McNeil said. "A lot of people say he is a good recruiter. I'll definitely agree with that.
"He got me to take a visit to Southern California which is something I never thought I would have done. He was a nice guy and a good coach. I'll guess we'll find out real soon."
McNeil took the official visit to USC despite having no real interest in being a Trojan. Not much went right for the small town kid on the big city visit, especially when the airline lost his luggage.
"It wasn't the coaches," McNeil said. "It was the atmosphere."
Sophomore receiver Gerald Jones pointed out that this is the third offense he'll be forced to learn in his UT career.
David Cutcliffe headed it up last season. Dave Clawson did so this year. Now, it's Kiffin.
"Since I've been here, I've learned a new offense every year," Jones said. "It shouldn't be too tough for me, I hope not."
Jones said the key to adapting will be strict study habits.
"You have to study it," he said. "You have to understand it."
Jones certainly took note of how Kiffin used playmaker Reggie Bush at USC.
"He used Reggie well," Jones said. "He lined his playmakers up at different positions."
Whatever the offense, Jones and company know they'll have to reestablish themselves with a new staff.
"Now it's going back to the basics," Jones said. "You've got to prove yourself and earn your job all over again."
While UT's players prove themselves to Kiffin, it appears UT has something to prove to a very disappointed Chavis.
"It's a great university. It's a great football program. I think in time it will be again," he said. "Certainly I hope so because I have a lot of love and respect for the University of Tennessee."