Fulmer says it’s not easy to see the once-proud Vols struggling

Phillip Fulmer

Phillip Fulmer

Just because Phillip Fulmer is no longer Tennessee’s football coach doesn’t mean he’s not still pulling for the Vols.

Fulmer, fired by UT late in the 2008 season, is in his second season as a studio analyst for the CBS College Sports Network show on football Saturdays.

During a CBS teleconference Monday, Fulmer said it’s not easy to see the once-proud Vols struggling.

“It’s terrible,” Fulmer said. “It’s hard to watch something you’ve put most of your adult life into and had just played for the (SEC) championship (in 2007) and all of a sudden you’re watching what’s transpiring now through the program and an obvious attempt to change the culture of Tennessee football that failed.”

That change of culture Fulmer was referring to was the one-year reign of Lane Kiffin, who succeeded Fulmer in 2009 and left abruptly last January to take the head coach’s job at Southern California.

Fulmer said he supports Kiffin’s replacement, Derek Dooley.

After a 48-13 loss to Oregon last Saturday, Dooley questioned his players’ intensity in the second half after they fell behind 27-13.

“I think Derek’s doing a good job,” Fulmer said. “He’s doing what he has to do. He’s saying the right things, and when a coach has to talk about his team’s effort, that’s not a good sign. In the second half of the (Oregon) football game I think he thought his guys didn’t try as hard as a Tennessee football team is expected to try.

“He’s got some players. (Running back) Tauren Poole is obviously a guy that’s talented, but there’s a lot of work to be done, you know, at quarterback and defensively. There’s just a ton in the short term to be done and more importantly he’s looking at the big picture of the program long term, to recruit and get Tennessee back at the level that they’re expected to be at.”

Fulmer said he has had “two or three great meetings” with Dooley and welcomed the current coach to call him anytime.

Fulmer doesn’t see Dooley’s job at UT as a quick fix.

“You’re looking I think at a fairly long-term problem, certainly with all the transition that the program has been through in the last couple of years from me to Kiffin, a good number of players that left the program, just I think a general attitude. I know my last few years if you talked about only winning nine, it was an act of terror, and now they’re pushing and hoping to win six to get in a bowl game someway.

“So he’s got lots of challenges around him internal and otherwise that people need to give him time and need to support him,” Fulmer added. “He needs to work like heck to get some more players and to catch up just numbers wise. I think he’s playing with 76 guys right now through the transition.

“You know, find a way to get better. They’re not showing a lot of progress, or didn’t in the (second half against Oregon). The first game their girlfriends could have played and probably beat (UT) Martin and then Oregon was obviously better. There’s some teams that will be a little like (UT) as they go through the season and they need to get those wins.”

The Vols (1-1) play Florida on Saturday and Fulmer will be watching and offering his opinions from a New York studio.

During many of Fulmer’s years at UT (14 seasons as an assistant and the as coach from 1992-2008), the Florida game had national implications for both teams.

That has changed this year. Florida is in the national picture. UT isn’t.

“Tennessee’s fighting for its identity and its life in the SEC East,” Fulmer said “(with) Florida being in a little bit different situation probably because they’re fighting to be one of the top four or five football teams in the country.”

Fulmer said Florida has issues, such as blending a terrific recruiting class with returning players and adjusting to new assistant coaches.

UT’s issues appear to be more daunting.

“There’s just a lot of stuff that Florida’s going through,” Fulmer said. “Tennessee’s going through it in a different way in they’re just trying to find 11 good players to put on the field at the same time that are going to execute and give the kind of effort that they’re looking for.”

Fulmer said the UT fan base has suffered the past couple of years.

“I think the Tennessee family is very divided at this point and so much is centered around the job that (basketball coach) Bruce Pearl has done, and it has been fantastic,” Fulmer said. “Obviously the last couple of years, all the uncertainty around the football program, the intent, or the seemingly intent to change the culture of Tennessee football just made it a very divided place. As an alumnus myself, and obviously the years that I served there as an assistant and head coach, it hurts to see those kinds of things going on.”

As for a pick to win Saturday, Fulmer goes with Florida.

“I just think Florida’s ability to run the ball, they’re playing great in the kicking game and very well on defense is probably too much for Tennessee at this point,” Fulmer said.

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 309

doctorfingervol writes:

Phil, thanks to you they are struggling!

Mr_Brownstone writes:

work like heck!

VOLFORLIFE writes:

Oh man, can't wait for the haters to jump on the "work like heck" comment.

Thanks, Coach Fulmer, for giving your all for Tennessee as player and coach.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

KarnsVol writes:

I wonder how Fulmer's old players and recruits feel about him picking against them.

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. YOU are the reason we are in this position. Don't you have anything better to do like figure out how to spend the 6 million you stole from the University?

orangecountyvols writes:

Wondering about the logic in having this interview at this time from this particular coach.........x-coach.
I really like Fulmer but just wonder about what his opinion actually means at this time. I did like the part where he said he does support Dooley.
How could he find anything good to say about the other one however?

One thing I liked that sounded familiar....."working like heck." Phil forgot the part about watching film.

volsfan74 writes:

So where in the article does Fulmer admit his part in the problems? Answer - No where! He doesn't want to talk about that either his last or second to last season we were 35th in the nation in recruiting! As much as I dislike Lane kiffin can't blame him for that. Fulmer has as much to do with where UT football is as Kiffin.

SixInaRow writes:

Glad to hear Phil will be at the game. He was always our good luck charm.

tulelakevol writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

Oh man, can't wait for the haters to jump on the "work like heck" comment.

Thanks, Coach Fulmer, for giving your all for Tennessee as player and coach.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

Not a Phil hater, but I do not feel he gave his all the last few years at the helm. Did he give his all starting out? He worked like heck, and the results showed. But towards the end of his tenure, I just feel he did not give 100%.

BrassMonkey writes:

The big mistake was not paying Cutcliff the money when he left for Duke. Pryor would be our quarterback now and we would be in the cat bird seat. Instead they would not pay the high dollar to keep Cutcliff, we ended up with Sanders, then Claw. 3 years later we are paying assistants 2 times what Cutt wanted. Like it or not, we have not have a decent quarterback since Cutt left.

FearlessFreep writes:

Phil is LOVING every minute of this, despite the fact it's largely due to his actions that UT's program is in the shape that it is.

budd#207344 writes:

The prudent man would refrain from commenting at all. He'd just work like heck and wait to see the film. That way people would not feel the need to remind him of the past.

CarthageVol writes:

Does he realize that he has former players on this team? How far would we be down had he stayed in place? Fulmer, you're campaigning for the AD job and WE Aint interested!!!!!!!!

wolfram writes:

The knoxville media has to drag the round mound of third down out after every news story so that he can pretend that he had nothing to do with why we're here. Fulmer is All-Fulmer. Beep .. beep .. beep .. sounds like the Brinks truck is dropping off another $125k in murvul!!!1

oskie_score writes:

Although part of the contingency that wanted change, I respect CPF but are disappointed that he continues to not acknowledge or accept accountability for being part of the problem and reason for the programs setback.

CDAWG writes:

I am a dawg fan but you guys have been through a lot of adversity. I think Dooley will turn it around but it is going to take a year or two. That slime ball Kiffen really did a number on you. I like Dooley and think he will turn it around.

jobrando#216494 writes:

what a resentful old man.. Picks the team he could never beat....This is sick

6MillionDollarPumpkin writes:

FOOLMER says, "Your looking I think at a fairly long term problem".....WOW!!!! Who in the name of working like Heck got us in this problem? FOOLMER is all about FOOLMER, always has, always will!!! Things never change.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Their girl friends could have beaten Wyoming, too, so its too bad Fulmer didn't suit the girls up for that game, eh?

“It’s terrible,” Fulmer said. “It’s hard to watch something you’ve put most of your adult life into and had just played for the (SEC) championship (in 2007) and all of a sudden you’re watching what’s transpiring now through the program and an obvious attempt to change the culture of Tennessee football that failed.”

Pitiful, just pitiful. "Had just played for the SEC championship"? Wasn't that a year before you lost to Wyoming and had a losing season for the second time in four years, Coach? "All of a sudden"? Huh? 2 losing seasons in his last four doesn't count as "all of a sudden."

Phil Fulmer is still in denial that he let his program spiral down into the ground over a number of years of mostly poor performance and poor recruiting. Lane Kiffin screwed us, but he isn't the reason we are in this boat this season. Phil Fulmer is the reason.

PennVol writes:

Sour grapes. He's blaming the current problems on the fact that he got fired and all this turmoil has caused the problems. Who can he blame for the 10 years ('99-'08) with no SEC championships and 2 of those last 3 years were LOSING seasons? If he were truly the coach that he thinks he is, he should've had a DYNASTY at UT after 16 years as HC! It really is amazing to me how the Fulmer story (wins, fired, bitterness) is similar to the Majors story.

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to doctorfingervol:

Phil, thanks to you they are struggling!

not exactly...but go ahead and keep telling yourself that.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Clap-clap-clap

TommyJack writes:

NO REASON to publically pick FL. No reason at all.

OrangePride writes:

I sometimes have to wonder about some of the comments on these boards. It's like people who still want to blame Bush for our current economic problems. Fulmer is NOT the reason we are where we are. Hamilton made a bad hire in Kiffin and this team, program, and University have been paying dearly for it ever since. These same individuals who want to continue to blame everything on Fulmer were the same ones applauding when he was fired. The fact is that Fulmer is the one who actually put Tennessee atop of the SEC win charts for a LOT of years. Yes, the last ones were down.......but those are not the cause of this mess. Coaching changes and the resultant loss of numerous players has left the talent thin all over the field. When a top team has 15 more scholarship players than you do, you will be less competitive and it's going to particularly show up late in the game. That said, I believe we are on a better course now and the Big Orange will be back! All we can do is be patient, yell like h**l for our Vols, and wait and see just how far Coach Dooley can take the football program as we move down the road. And I implore every real fan to get and stay behind these Vols because they need us now more than ever. Make no mistake..we DO make a difference!! GBO!!!

jbocap writes:

Sounds like a guy who was just answering some questions; while also defending his record; which alot of coaches in college football would love to have a record like his.
Mike Hamilton totally disrespected Coach Fulmer; and now we got what Hammy wants..and we're stuck in the mud.
I do agree Fulmer should have paid his asst's more....Chavis went to LSU and "doubled" his salary! A storied and successful tradition of a football program is now in "growing pains".
We will get this ironed out, it will take some time. Fans need to support the team; and not leave the stadium mostly empty like they did this past Saturday...that was just as embarrassing as the loss.
I support Coach Dooley and our team...regardless!

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

I sometimes have to wonder about some of the comments on these boards. It's like people who still want to blame Bush for our current economic problems. Fulmer is NOT the reason we are where we are. Hamilton made a bad hire in Kiffin and this team, program, and University have been paying dearly for it ever since. These same individuals who want to continue to blame everything on Fulmer were the same ones applauding when he was fired. The fact is that Fulmer is the one who actually put Tennessee atop of the SEC win charts for a LOT of years. Yes, the last ones were down.......but those are not the cause of this mess. Coaching changes and the resultant loss of numerous players has left the talent thin all over the field. When a top team has 15 more scholarship players than you do, you will be less competitive and it's going to particularly show up late in the game. That said, I believe we are on a better course now and the Big Orange will be back! All we can do is be patient, yell like h**l for our Vols, and wait and see just how far Coach Dooley can take the football program as we move down the road. And I implore every real fan to get and stay behind these Vols because they need us now more than ever. Make no mistake..we DO make a difference!! GBO!!!

well said! Go VOLS!

We can all sit around and point fingers till the cows come home... but bottom line is, the Athletic Dept. is a HUGE mess!!! Lot's of people play a part in that, but one man is in charge of it all. My advice to him is dont pull the plug on a legendary coach (who was admittedly at the end of his game) until you have a sure thing lined up.

Silver lining in all of this may just be Dooley...I think he will be great.

james#216392 writes:

Everyone blames Fulmer but no one remembers a couple key injuries, a couple grade issues and a couple transfers that really hurt the Fulmer Vols. Most of those weren't his doing but when you lose 6-8 3,4&5 star players, it hurts. That is what we are seeing right now. Be patient, quit blaming Fulmer and watch as this great young class comes into its own. It may be 2012, but it will happen. I liked what I saw Saturday- first half much more than second- and see a bright future. I also see a tough next few weeks.

bigtimevol writes:

Generally a Fulmer supporter, but he'd endear himself alot better to fans if he'd admit to his part in the debacle at UT. I DO think, given time, that DD will be the best coach we've had at UT since Dickey. He's got a little bit of Fulmer in him (politically correct and a players coach), but he really seems to have the intensity of Saban, with the mindset that "Failure is not an option." Go Vols

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

TN will struggle all year offensively, as I have said publicly all year and took abuse that with Matt Simms, Phil Simms and Dooley cutting the deal behind the curtain to make Matt Simms the QB. That kid is horrible, he does not know how to read a defense, check off or go through progressions. Oh yes that was the same thing he dealt with at HS, when his dad Craig James, I mean Phil Simms bought the entire offense line scholoarship at D.Bosco Prep, then when he went to Louisville, knew he was not worthy, then goes to Junior College and now lands at all places TN, thanks to Monte & Lane. TN passing game is done, Like Stocker parents have to be beside themselves as this kid was headed out to the NFl, unless Nick Stephens stayed, well that did nto work out real well. I said 4 wins and still hold to 4 wins.

Also, fire the conditioning coach, if you cannot beat physically at least be in better shape...oh yes all the players question this guys motives as well. 4 more weeks and this team starts splitting.

orangecountyvols writes:

Phil still shows the grapes. That little remark about the girls beating UTMartin and that his teams were 9 win teams and now we hope to get to 6 wins.........didn't need to be played. Only people who liked his negative remarks are the trolls here.

And this for you trolls..........we all know who you are. You can wear out your computers trying to whine about this or that, but most of the Tennessee fans are going to scroll over and ignore them.

volsfannsc writes:

Timely interview don't you think GVX? I'm not sure who is the biggest instigator, Phil or GVX.

Phil, in the past I had a lot of respect for you, even though I thought that it was time for you to step down. You misdirected by implicating the prior season to your dismissal was all 'roses'. Most who know the game of football knew then it was the begining of the end. There is no excuse for giving your game prediction as you did. Coy? Hardly. It's time to put the big boy pants on and just go about your life. I had always defended your efforts at Tenn and thought that the change at the helm was just that- a change at the helm. What respect I had for you is gone now. I'm sure the current seniors you recruited have lost respect as well. Isn't there some Div II school needing your services? Just go away.

LiveFaith writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

what a resentful old man.. Picks the team he could never beat....This is sick

Huh? It's a pick, not a vote. The team with the most votes does not get the W or anything. The guy is just stating the obvious as an analyst. That's what he does now. Should Holtz pick Ark to beat Bama, or SC to beat UF, or ND to win the national title because he coached there?

We do have a chance to defeat UF, but it will take a mistake free effort that capitalizes on their mistakes.

Weird logic on here.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to CDAWG:

I am a dawg fan but you guys have been through a lot of adversity. I think Dooley will turn it around but it is going to take a year or two. That slime ball Kiffen really did a number on you. I like Dooley and think he will turn it around.

Thanks, CDAWG!! We appreciate your kindness..There are people that can learn from you and others(fans of other teams) how to act when they come on here.

winbigvols14 writes:

I'm glad he is gone, Enough said.

19storm68 writes:

Hey Phyllis,

The program has been going down since the second half of the 2001 SEC Championship Game. Remember, you couldn't stop a QB Draw. You should have been fired after the Vandy loss. You watched it slide for almost a decade. That's where the damage was done. Maybe you had to watch the film to figure out what happened.

Instead of trying to be the next AD, you should work on your acting. Maybe you can land the role of Aunt Bee in the remake of The Andy Griffith Show.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Volnupstate:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, he could have said "I'd rather not get into that". Man is a serial a-hole.

tenacjim#211887 writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Clap-clap-clap

Don't forget to wince while you clap-clap-clap.....

SEC1 writes:

in response to Volnupstate:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gators are a 17 point favor,Phil remembers how difficult it was to beat the gators besides i wonder how the young vols will respond after such an emotional,exhausting,humiliating lost to the Ducks time will tell. I got my tickets Sec m. can't wait!

Volunatic writes:

in response to PennVol:

Sour grapes. He's blaming the current problems on the fact that he got fired and all this turmoil has caused the problems. Who can he blame for the 10 years ('99-'08) with no SEC championships and 2 of those last 3 years were LOSING seasons? If he were truly the coach that he thinks he is, he should've had a DYNASTY at UT after 16 years as HC! It really is amazing to me how the Fulmer story (wins, fired, bitterness) is similar to the Majors story.

Technically, it was two losing seasons out of the final 4 years of his tenure, but other than that, I agree.
Fulmer should just state that he still supports the Vols and that he likes Dooley, and keep the rest of his opinions to himself.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Phil still shows the grapes. That little remark about the girls beating UTMartin and that his teams were 9 win teams and now we hope to get to 6 wins.........didn't need to be played. Only people who liked his negative remarks are the trolls here.

And this for you trolls..........we all know who you are. You can wear out your computers trying to whine about this or that, but most of the Tennessee fans are going to scroll over and ignore them.

I scrolled over them on this article.

dtennessee#235123 writes:

Can Fulmer please just go away? He left this mess.

NeylandWest writes:

Hahahahaha....he couldn't resist - he totally dropped the "work like heck" phrase.

doctorfingervol writes:

in response to ALL_VOL75:

not exactly...but go ahead and keep telling yourself that.

Well, the 06 & 08 recruiting classes that Fulmer put together have plenty to do with their struggles and the hiring of Clawson which cost him his job. I will just keep telling myself that which are facts.

utclassof1992 writes:

in response to ALL_VOL75:

well said! Go VOLS!

We can all sit around and point fingers till the cows come home... but bottom line is, the Athletic Dept. is a HUGE mess!!! Lot's of people play a part in that, but one man is in charge of it all. My advice to him is dont pull the plug on a legendary coach (who was admittedly at the end of his game) until you have a sure thing lined up.

Silver lining in all of this may just be Dooley...I think he will be great.

Somebody that seems to get it here. CPF was all class in the interview, seems to still support UT, but all the younguns care about is trashing him. He is not "sick" and "dope" enough for them. Fire a coach 10 months after an appearance in the SECCG and winning the east, and karma is bound to bite you. And it has, right in the can. Hang in there, Derek. You can do this.

Pompey writes:

in response to ALL_VOL75:

not exactly...but go ahead and keep telling yourself that.

....then tell us exactly why he is not still here.....

RandRams writes:

Nice to hear from good ol' Phil, BTW, how's coaching?? Oh, that's right, to this date there have been no serious (FBS) Head Coach offers. Hmm, that's perplexing...I mean with ALL that winning experience and coaching knowledge. Oh well, there's the motivational speaker gig and the ptnrshp at Northshore Capital Mgmt., right??

Bogus writes:

in response to TommyJack:

NO REASON to publically pick FL. No reason at all.

In all fairness, he does have a reason. He is an analyst for a major network, and that's what he is paid to do. It's his job, remember?

Neyland writes:

in response to Dead_Head_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man thats hilarious, you just forgot 2 things, country ham and grits. LOL

Volunatic writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Phil still shows the grapes. That little remark about the girls beating UTMartin and that his teams were 9 win teams and now we hope to get to 6 wins.........didn't need to be played. Only people who liked his negative remarks are the trolls here.

And this for you trolls..........we all know who you are. You can wear out your computers trying to whine about this or that, but most of the Tennessee fans are going to scroll over and ignore them.

Yes, most of us just scroll over the trolls' comments, but I noticed that they are now responding to one another at least. I think it's great if those people can find friends somehow.

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