Phillip Fulmer reacted with a similar type of shock as the rest of the general public when Florida football coach Urban Meyer abruptly resigned for the second time in a year.
Only after the surprise wore off was the former Tennessee coach able to dig up an emotion few can have with someone like Meyer: Empathy.
“His family is important, his health is important,” said Fulmer, who was presented with The Knoxville Award by the Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service at the Convention Center on Thursday.
“I think it’s just a huge statement that the pressure coaches nowadays are under. Good for him to have the courage to step down and do the things that are important to him.”
Meyer, 46, a two-time national champion at Florida, cited a desire to get closer to his family at his Wednesday resignation news conference.
After the 2009 season, Meyer cited health-related concerns when he briefly resigned before returning one day later.
Fulmer, who compiled a 152–52 record and led the Vols to a BCS national championship, has had his name linked to various coaching opportunities across the country since he was fired in 2008.
He has not completely dismissed the idea of a return to coaching, as he had his name recently associated with the opening at Minnesota, but reiterated Thursday that he was happy with his business venture.
Fulmer is a partner at NorthShore Management Co., a holding company founded by Mike West.
“If something comes up that really strikes me as something that is important, then I would look at it,” he said. “At this point that hasn’t happened.
“We’ll just see where God leads us.”
Dooley Gets Shuler’s Vote: Former UT quarterback Heath Shuler, who introduced Fulmer, gave first-year UT coach Derek Dooley his seal of approval.
“I think Coach Dooley has done an incredible job,” said Shuler, who is now a congressman in North Carolina. “He’s probably met expectations or exceeded some expectations.
“What I was able to see is what kind of players he’s surrounding himself with and the coaching staff … That’s what Tennessee needs and deserves. I’m so excited about what he brings to the table for our university.”
Despite representing North Carolina, Shuler said he would still root for the Vols against North Carolina in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 (TV: ESPN, 6:30 p.m.).
Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/