Fulmer's future at UT? No word yet

Source says 6-6 record won't save coach's job

No formal decision has been made regarding Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer's future, an anonymous source who would be involved in such a decision told the News Sentinel on Monday, two days after the Vols lost to No. 2 Alabama in Neyland Stadium and fell to 3-5 overall.

However, the source said that big losses to SEC rivals and an upset loss in overtime at UCLA in the season-opener could prove too much for Fulmer, regardless of what happens in UT's four remaining games.

A second source close to the program said a win over Alabama last week would have strongly bolstered Fulmer's chances to be retained next season, especially if UT went on to win its four remaining games.

That source said a 6-6 record would result in a coaching change, adding that Fulmer would not be guaranteed to save his job if the Vols go 7-5 this season.

There is no timetable in place to make a public announcement on Fulmer's future. UT officials would prefer to wait until after the season before making a final decision.

Fulmer could not be reached Monday for comment.

Saturday's 29-9 loss to No. 2 Alabama in Neyland Stadium marked the third time this season the Vols have lost by double-digits to a major SEC foe.

UT lost to Florida 30-6 at home on Sept. 20 and at Georgia 26-14 on Oct. 11. Tennessee, 1-4 in the SEC, earned its conference win two weekends ago over Mississippi State, 34-3.

Overall, Tennessee is 1-5 in its last six games against Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Perhaps most damaging is the margin of defeat in those games. Counting UT's win during that stretch, a 35-14 victory over Georgia last year, the average score in those games has been 33-17 in favor of UT's opponents, and those five losses have come by a combined margin on 185-66.

Since 2000, the Vols are 11-16 against Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Including this season, the Vols have gone 0-3 against those teams three times (2008, 2005 and 2002). Conversely, the Vols have defeated all three in a single season once (2004).

Tennessee's remaining schedule offers Fulmer little chance to impress high-level boosters and athletic department decision makers.

The Vols play at South Carolina (5-3, 2-3 in the SEC) this weekend then play host to Wyoming (2-6) on Nov. 8.

Following a bye week, the Vols play at Vanderbilt (5-3, 3-2) on Nov. 22 and at home against Kentucky (5-3, 1-3) on Nov. 29 to finish the season.

UT must win three of the remaining four to become bowl eligible.

None of the remaining teams on UT's schedule is ranked, although South Carolina spent one week ranked No. 24 in September and Vanderbilt climbed to No. 13 after starting 5-0. UT's three remaining SEC opponents are ahead of the Vols in the East standings.

By winning its remaining three conference games, UT could still finish as high as third in the SEC East. Over his career, Fulmer is 43-2 against those three teams, with the only losses coming to South Carolina and Vanderbilt in 2005.

The Vols are a six-point underdog against South Carolina. If Tennessee fails to finish at least fourth in the SEC East this season, it would mark UT's worst finish in the SEC since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 1992, the year before Fulmer became head coach.

One more SEC loss would result in Fulmer's second losing season in conference since 2005, the only two such occurrences in his 17 seasons as head coach.

Despite its on-field struggles, however, Tennessee has continued to recruit well. Rivals.com ranks the Vols' commitments for 2009 as the No. 7 class at this point, behind only LSU and Alabama in the SEC. Scout.com ranks UT 10th-best in the nation, behind Auburn, Georgia and LSU in the SEC.

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Links

Comments » 536

10eceeVol4ever writes:

Please Coach, do the right thing for everyone concerned. Tye Willingham announced that he is resigning at the end of the season at Washington today. Please do the same so that we can start exploring options for next year. None of us want this to turn ugly. But the time has come!!

invisiblekid writes:

in response to KingsportVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Counting on a loss to SC?

BIGORANGEdawgHATER writes:

Looks like the much needed changes are a coming! Christmas may come early this year!

BigVolinCarolina writes:

I bet I can guess why there's no formal decision yet. They're reviewing the film.

invisiblekid writes:

FWIW, word is that Tajh Boyd is going to commit to the Vols. No other trips planned and he said we were his leader.

khelton657 writes:

He has no idea what to do to turn it around.." working like heck didn't do it, "Tennessee will always be Tennessee" apparently didn't do much, letting the other teams "take it away from us (reference Jason Witten usage) didn't work, wanting to "just be close at the end" wasn't good enough, being a "players coach" (Read "weak") certainly didn't get it....not a lot of brilliant comments or moves have ever come from CPF.

tnbigg writes:

Bye...in like a lion...out like a lamb...and take your bleeting sheep with you...

khelton657 writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Bye...in like a lion...out like a lamb...and take your bleeting sheep with you...

That's interesting...lions led by lamb

tnbigg writes:

GoVolsXTRA posting sheep group shot...help me pick them out guys...which one is which? Baaaaa...

rblakeh writes:

I want what is best for the program, and if Fulmer is indeed on the way out, it may very well be for the best.

I will not, however, take pleasure in the fact that a Tennessee hero has fallen from grace.

Go Vols

ect1983 writes:

This is going to be like Fatal Attraction when Glen Close came out of the tub.....Until Phul Philmer is announced gone....he is not out. I cant believe that Hamilton hasn't pulled the trigger (Philbert WILL never voluntarily quit). BOYCOTT and hope Hamilton grows something to occupy his teabag

tenuscvol writes:

Tread lightly gentlemen....this is a major decision and for that I wish you great wisdom and knowledge and regardless of your final decision I will be there to support even if Phil stays.

If change is in order then we may need to go through several coaches before this panes out (I hope not) but only time will tell.

Good Luck!

GoVols!

khelton657 writes:

in response to rblakeh:

I want what is best for the program, and if Fulmer is indeed on the way out, it may very well be for the best.

I will not, however, take pleasure in the fact that a Tennessee hero has fallen from grace.

Go Vols

You're right rblakeh, this is not going to be pleasant to watch. I've not been a Fulmer fan for years but it is now like watching an animal suffer...not good

cterblan writes:

Haslam is the source.

bebecerveza writes:

ODE TO THE GREAT PUMPKIN

Unlike Charlie Brown I have gone to the stadium every year since 2005 hoping I would not see the The Great Pumpkin rise again, looks like Vol nation might be getting a treat instead of a trick this year for Halloween.

khelton657 writes:

This is going to be ugly sportsfans..hope it is over quick...

asand211#361548 writes:

I'll tell you, emotion grips these message boards after each game, and especially each loss, with the masses calling for Fulmer's head. I admit that I have been one of those. The bad part about this entire situation is that I have no doubt Fulmer loves the University of Tennessee and I believe that is what is keeping him from retiring, not money. I honestly believe these losses are as hard for him and hurt him as much as they do the Tennessee fan base. Unfortunately, anger erupts from the type of emotion felt by Tennessee fans because we are used to winning. It is unfortunate that we have reached this point and that it may come to Fulmer being forced out. I hope that is not the case, for his sake and the sake of the University. I would love to see him win out this season and then offer his retirement and he could leave a winner.

tnbigg writes:

Forgot to post the picture...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8152383@...

WhitePineVol77 writes:

As a TN fan since my first game in 1964 as a 10 year old, I was aware of the history that lay behindn the VOLS, and the uncertainty that lay ahead. There have been great times, horrible ones, and one thing is certain. The game will always be a cycle. Because of parity, we will see teams we have always viewed as weak and backwaters attain greatness on the gridiron. Eastern Carolina, USF, Fresno State, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Etc., etc. to name a few. I have accepted that because I love the game of college football. The VOLS and Rocky Top have hit rock bottom, but then so did Bama, Notre Dame, Nebraska (never mind...the Huskers stink now too). What bugs me is the level of nastiness some folks stoop to to express their emotion toward the Coach and his staff. I laugh because I imagine guys sitting around writing their critiques that never played the game, and one or two that maybe have. BTW, I never did...got my butt kicked on the junior high fields in Morristown, Tn. and went to the band. Anyway, be thankful for what we have had, and for what we will have once again when we hire a coach for 6 million next year.
WhitePineVol77 will always bleed orange.

GerryOP writes:

Phil buddy, it's time. If you truly love the University of Tennessee, do the right thing. Announce your retirement. Do it ... do it now.

olozbal#646632 writes:

Wow, can't believe it's really starting to become a reality. Pinch me.

You guys realize if we do this it's going to go down like Michigan right? Big $$$ buyout of the old guy, big mega contract to the new guy. Bad results the first couple of years as new system comes into play.

Tennessee does not have the amount of recruits like Florida/Texas/Alabama/Georgia does so we can't do what Sabin did and just hold on to our own state players for a quick talent boost. The good news is a motivator and solid coach could have done ten times more with the talent we have now.

I'm all for the change don't get me wrong. But is this crew going to take another year of this even with a new coach? I remember the props Clawson was getting from this group before the season started.

woodwr#217203 writes:

Notice the lose to all three years 2002, 2005, & 2008 were all immediately following the SEC East Representative in championship game years 2001, 2004, & 2007.

Probably the best evaluation cycle is four to five years:

1994-1997 Manning years = 8-4 against GA, AL & FL

1998-2001 ? GA, ? AL & 2-2 FL

2002-2006 ? versus GA, AL, & FL

2007-2010 so far 1-5 to get to even would take 5-1

Seems too much to hope for even with a good recruiting class, even if all three have rookie QBs next year.

MillisaAnn writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Phil buddy, it's time. If you truly love the University of Tennessee, do the right thing. Announce your retirement. Do it ... do it now.

Yes I agree do the right thing Fulmer leave now.

tnbigg writes:

in response to WhitePineVol77:

As a TN fan since my first game in 1964 as a 10 year old, I was aware of the history that lay behindn the VOLS, and the uncertainty that lay ahead. There have been great times, horrible ones, and one thing is certain. The game will always be a cycle. Because of parity, we will see teams we have always viewed as weak and backwaters attain greatness on the gridiron. Eastern Carolina, USF, Fresno State, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Etc., etc. to name a few. I have accepted that because I love the game of college football. The VOLS and Rocky Top have hit rock bottom, but then so did Bama, Notre Dame, Nebraska (never mind...the Huskers stink now too). What bugs me is the level of nastiness some folks stoop to to express their emotion toward the Coach and his staff. I laugh because I imagine guys sitting around writing their critiques that never played the game, and one or two that maybe have. BTW, I never did...got my butt kicked on the junior high fields in Morristown, Tn. and went to the band. Anyway, be thankful for what we have had, and for what we will have once again when we hire a coach for 6 million next year.
WhitePineVol77 will always bleed orange.

Just so you get it straight...I bleed orange...but I have never bled a man of this world...many bleed Fulmer...not Tennessee football..I DO NOT BLEED FULMER...he has way overstayed his time because of the ones that bleed Fulmer...once he's gone they can try to bleed orange...but they don't now...it's just what they like to say...you can't bleed orange and give a pass over and over and over with little to no change...say what you want to me..."the true Vol" blah blah blah...true Vols support Tennessee football...not the one or ones who are destroying it...

rabidvol1998 writes:

in response to rblakeh:

I want what is best for the program, and if Fulmer is indeed on the way out, it may very well be for the best.

I will not, however, take pleasure in the fact that a Tennessee hero has fallen from grace.

Go Vols

Well said -- The good 'ol days everyone wants back are the 90's when Fulmer was the coach(head and offensive).

He has "given his all for Tennessee" for 30 years. I dare say none of the haters on line have done the same for 30 days.

It may be time to go, but respect has been earned and is required.

Moaninglikeheck writes:

in response to tnbigg:

Forgot to post the picture...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8152383@...

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

invisiblekid writes:

in response to KingsportVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, but we do have Berry and Morley back there to pick off a couple of passes and return them for TD's. Plus, their offense is running the ball worse than us as hard as that is to believe.

Never thought we had a chance against 'Bama but I do believe we have a chance to squeak out an ugly win this weekend.

tenuscvol writes:

in response to asand211#361548:

I'll tell you, emotion grips these message boards after each game, and especially each loss, with the masses calling for Fulmer's head. I admit that I have been one of those. The bad part about this entire situation is that I have no doubt Fulmer loves the University of Tennessee and I believe that is what is keeping him from retiring, not money. I honestly believe these losses are as hard for him and hurt him as much as they do the Tennessee fan base. Unfortunately, anger erupts from the type of emotion felt by Tennessee fans because we are used to winning. It is unfortunate that we have reached this point and that it may come to Fulmer being forced out. I hope that is not the case, for his sake and the sake of the University. I would love to see him win out this season and then offer his retirement and he could leave a winner.

Agree....

These posts are but a small minority however an empty stadium in the 3rd quarter cannot be ignored (although I was in Legion Field in '95 and the elephant people were out of there in the 3rd as well...ah, the good old days...)

Anyway...I'll support the school even if Phil is retained and I hope that if there is a change it occurs in such away (and a desirable replacment is identifed) so that recruiting is not negatively impacted.

GoVols!

tnbigg writes:

in response to Moaninglikeheck:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Heath...you gonna' cry now?

kingjeffy writes:

to all you naysayers out there; you cant blame the coaches for everything! i.e. a player sitting on the bench smiling & laughing after he misses a first down beacuz he didn't have the brains to lunge forward after he caught the ball???? And all the penalties??? The Vols had the talent to beat Alabama. The coaches had the game plan. Some of the players just don't have the heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CT_VOL writes:

Every time I come to check the site, I can't wait to see Fulmer's official firing. And every time, I remain disappointed.

Frank

khelton657 writes:

in response to kingjeffy:

to all you naysayers out there; you cant blame the coaches for everything! i.e. a player sitting on the bench smiling & laughing after he misses a first down beacuz he didn't have the brains to lunge forward after he caught the ball???? And all the penalties??? The Vols had the talent to beat Alabama. The coaches had the game plan. Some of the players just don't have the heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The coaches had the gameplan"..you're kidding, right ?

MassVol writes:

in response to rabidvol1998:

Well said -- The good 'ol days everyone wants back are the 90's when Fulmer was the coach(head and offensive).

He has "given his all for Tennessee" for 30 years. I dare say none of the haters on line have done the same for 30 days.

It may be time to go, but respect has been earned and is required.

Well said Rabidvol1998. You too Blake. Whatever happens at the end of the year, I'll always respect Coach Fulmer and I'll always root for the Big Orange.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to kingjeffy:

to all you naysayers out there; you cant blame the coaches for everything! i.e. a player sitting on the bench smiling & laughing after he misses a first down beacuz he didn't have the brains to lunge forward after he caught the ball???? And all the penalties??? The Vols had the talent to beat Alabama. The coaches had the game plan. Some of the players just don't have the heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We've been recruiting tin men!?!

Where, oh, where is the great and powerful Oz when we need him?

utvolz#637682 writes:

He's gone folks. Bank on it! You can't continue to get "schooled" both at home and on the road vs. Bama, UGA, and the Gators and expect to keep your job. It doesn't work like that in the business world and don't fool yourself, UT Football is BIG BUSINESS!

Frank

JMP_Vols writes:

in response to kingjeffy:

to all you naysayers out there; you cant blame the coaches for everything! i.e. a player sitting on the bench smiling & laughing after he misses a first down beacuz he didn't have the brains to lunge forward after he caught the ball???? And all the penalties??? The Vols had the talent to beat Alabama. The coaches had the game plan. Some of the players just don't have the heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you say the players just don't have the heart, you prove the exact point we're making.

Its the COACHES responsibility to inspire players and maximize their talent.

chbradshaw writes:

Dave...it can't be an "anonymous" source if you assert its authority as someone "who would be involved." Unless someone who did not identify themself called you and told you they are someone "who would be involved" and you took their word for it.

It sounds like this is a source known to you and vouched for by you but not identified to us. In that case, Kelly Leiter would be quick to inform you it is an "unidentifed but knowledgeable source."

Also, it appears the operative word in your story is "formal." The decision seems to have been made...just not yet executed.

KennesawVol writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hiresanders - I believe you're spot on. Waiting till the end of the season to do a HC search will leave Hamilton with the leftovers. Going after a good candidate NOW is prudent.

DogAndPonyShow writes:

Here we go again with the Fulmer firing foolishness.

Phil-o ain't goin' nowhere. He'll be back next year, and any more after that if he so chooses. Neyland Stadium has been his own personal amusement park since 1992 - you season ticket holding court jesters just show up on weekends to keep him amused during time-outs.

Mark my words (because deep down you know it's true) - Phil's 2009 license plate will read:

TNFANSRMYBIATCH.

utvolz#637682 writes:

If Fulmer won't do the honorable thing and announce his resignation at season's end, this is gonna get ugly and very expensive!

Displaced_Vol_Fan writes:

It's funny, I sit here and read post after post from people tearing Fulmer apart, and it pains me to read it. I will say for the record, I think it is time for a coaching change, however, it is disgraceful to tear a man apart that has given his entire adult life to the betterment of UT. The vols reached a pinnacle under Fulmer and that should be respected. I don't believe for one moment that this man does not care about this program more than any single poster (or all the posters combined, including myself) on here. No one that insults and degrades him cares more, and certainly not one has done more for UT than Fulmer. What he has done and what he has given to this program DEMANDS respect. If people don't like him, fine, but the name calling and idiotic statements like "If he really cares about UT" should stop. Anyone that posts trash like that should be ashamed of themselves. I hope he goes out with pride and should certainly go out with the respect he deserves for what he has done for the University of Tennessee! Sorry to be so long winded, but I just could not take it anymore. Some of you people sound like Alabama and North Carolina fans!

shane6#638715 writes:

Don't you just hate "sources"? If I was a million dollar man I'd be like "damn right you can quote me on that". Does anyone in this world have any nuts anymore?

FWBVol writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you love Sanders so much go pull for the Cats.

Just because there is no public announcement doesn't mean those in power aren't working the phone lines and making the contacts already.

If the next guy is at a Tulsa, South Florida or some other school, there is no way UT could publicly go after him right now.

I thought it was Majors' time to go when UT gave him the ax, but they could have handled it so much better with getting rid of a Tennessee legend. The administration needs to show descretion in the way they handle this as well as respect for one of the two coaches that have brought home an outright NC.

For all those crying for a new coach, I still keep remembering Wade Houston, Kevin O'Neill, Jerry Green and Buzz Peterson between Don DeVoe and Bruce Pearl with the UT basketball program.

For every Urban Meyer there's an Ed Orgeron (sp) waiting to do worse than the guy they replace.

Triton1 writes:

in response to rblakeh:

I want what is best for the program, and if Fulmer is indeed on the way out, it may very well be for the best.

I will not, however, take pleasure in the fact that a Tennessee hero has fallen from grace.

Go Vols

I'll second that.

GreerVol22 writes:

some of you saps on here kill me with your let him go out a winner blubbering. the man will leave with some nice hardware and millions....thanks for the 90's.

Triton1 writes:

in response to Moaninglikeheck:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So obviously true.

jmbigorange#280428 writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you even a UT fan? "The T on the helmut stands for terrible." A real UT fan would never say something so stupid. Although i think Fulmer should be gone he has done alot for UT and does deserve respect for it. Remember Fulmer is the one who set the standards so high. Why don't you go root for another team. UT would be better off without your support MORON.

CrankE writes:

khelton657, woodwr#217203

Agree 100%. It dawned on me in the last couple of weeks that UT has followed trips to the SEC Championship game with seasons of 5+ losses. For a such a lowdown year to immediately follow such a good year could hint at complacency. Folks will give the benefit of the doubt once or twice-seniors graduate, juniors leave early for the NFL, and underclassmen have it tough the next year. It could be cause and effect, or even coincidence. For it to happen three times isn't coincidence, it's confirmation.

In those down years, Fulmer seems at a loss to explain how we got in the ditch, much less what to do to get out of the ditch, not even apparently how to keep from running into this ditch every 3-4 years.

This is what Tennessee football has become under Fulmer. No consistency, no rhyme or reason, no joy, no championships. Just excuses for spin control and CYA.

andy112382#209793 writes:

I was real impressed watching Tulsa play last night. Something really stood out to me was when the announcers said how they play to win vs playing not to lose.

Here is their staff: http://tulsahurricane.cstv.com/sports... (click on the menu to the bottom right)

Lane Kiffin kind of stands out to me as well, given his success at USC and how much the players loved him at Oakland where he was kind of screwed over. Then just to round out the list I would throw in the names of Petersen from Boise St and Gary Paterson from TCU.

But Tulsa is averaging over 600 yds on offense, their head coach is a former DC and Malzahn is the co-oc. They have been #1 in offense since last season, so consistent, too.

bpvol#216873 writes:

If we do in fact change coaches at the end of this year......

I hope everyone realizes how long it may take before we get to the top again....

I don't remember all the coaches......but it took Florida at least one coach before they got Meyer.

Alabama was at least 2 or 3 before they got Saban....

Georgia was maybe 2, Donnan..... before Richt....

Someone who knows all the names can follow up with and do a better job....

My point is......when Fulmer leaves.....how many coaches before we get the right one.....

Look at our own basketball program....

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