Fulmer will address the College of Communication and Information today. Gore will address the College of Arts & Sciences on Friday.
The presence of such high-profile personalities sends a message that UT is as vibrant as ever, even though it hasn't had a permanent university president in place since February of 2009 and hasn't been to a BCS bowl since the 1999 season. Better yet, both Fulmer and Gore have Tennessee roots, which tells every graduate in the audience, "You don't have to leave the state to become rich and famous."
Fulmer grew up in Winchester. Gore spent his summers on a farm in Carthage, although he attended school in Washington D.C., where his father served as a U.S. representative.
But this week's celebrity commencement speakers have much more in common than a rural-Tennessee background.
Cinema - As a young man, Fulmer bore a resemblance to actor Joe Don Baker, who played Buford Pusser in "Walking Tall." Last year, he played a football coach in the popular movie, "Blind Side," which grossed even more money in one weekend than Fulmer did when he was fired a year earlier as UT's football coach.
At Harvard, Gore met writer Erich Segal, who drew on the lives of Gore and fellow student Tommy Lee Jones to create the male lead in his novel, "Love Story," which later became a hit movie.
More recently, Gore's campaign to educate the public on global warming was the subject of the award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
Journalism - Before pursuing a political career, Gore was a reporter for the Tennessean. Fulmer wrote a sports column for the News Sentinel as a counterpoint to my column suggesting he should be fired.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton broke the tie.
Love For Vanderbilt - Gore went to divinity school at Vanderbilt. Fulmer went 15-1 against Vanderbilt.
Florida Flops - Fulmer got chomped. Gore got "chadded."
Fulmer went 5-12 against Florida. Florida's hanging chads cost Gore the 2000 presidential election.
From The Shadows - Both Fulmer and Gore followed in the footsteps of more famous leaders.
Fulmer succeeded Johnny Majors, a Heisman Trophy runner-up who won a national championship at Pittsburgh before he returned to his alma mater as head coach. Gore succeeded two-term President Bill Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee.
U.S. Marshals - Gore has served as the grand marshal of Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Fulmer has served as grand marshal of Columbia's Mule Day Parade.
Favorite Color - Green, as in "going green" for Gore, who continues his environmental crusade, and "taking the green" for Fulmer, who received a $6 million buyout from UT.
1998 Titles - Fulmer led UT to the national championship in football in 1998. Vice-President Gore called the Kentucky Wildcats to congratulate them after they won the national championship in basketball in 1998.
Famous Sayings - Gore coined the term, "Information Super Highway." Fulmer used the term "I'll have to see the film" so often that you think he coined it.
Discovery Channel - Gore discovered the Internet. Fulmer discovered Dave Clawson.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.