Like any alumnus, Phillip Fulmer can’t wait to see who becomes the University of Tennessee’s new athletic director.
The former UT football coach said Friday he doesn’t expect it to be him.
While a number of his supporters and former players have worked behind the scenes to champion his cause as Mike Hamilton’s replacement, Fulmer didn’t sound like he was stumping for the job during a visit to the a3 Celebrity Golf Tournament at Willow Creek.
“I don’t think I’ll be one of the guys they’ll even consider,’’ Fulmer said, “because they’re probably looking for a sitting athletic director, more than likely.
“And that’s good. That’s no problem. I’m just interested to see who it’s going to be.’’
Fulmer was forced out during the 2008 season. His 152 career wins at UT rank second only to Robert Neyland.
In the past three months, UT also has fired popular basketball coach Bruce Pearl and baseball coach Todd Raleigh.
Now the university, under the direction of a new president and relatively new chancellor, is replacing Hamilton, who resigned last week. The new AD will inherit a program awaiting NCAA sanctions to be announced later this summer.
“It’s one of the most important hires that has happened in our history,’’ Fulmer said, “to kind of help us dig out of the hole we’ve gotten ourselves into, from a lot of fronts.’’
Fulmer, who ran UT’s football program from 1993-2008, said what UT needs more than anything is stable leadership.
“I was blessed to be here at a time when there was so much stability,’’ Fulmer said.
“(President) Joe Johnson was an unbelievable leader. (AD) Doug Dickey was an unbelievable leader. . . . We were all a team and that’s what we’ve got to get it back to.
“I think we’ve got a good president and chancellor. ... Those are important pieces to this puzzle and now we’ve got to get the same thing in whoever the athletic director is.’’
Fulmer works in the financial business and does analysis for the CBS College Sports channel. A return to coaching appears to be a ship that has sailed.
But, he noted, any number of former coaches have made successful transitions into athletic administration.
“If you look around the country,’’ he said, “Barry Alvarez is running as good a program (at Wisconsin) as anybody in the country. Because he understands.’’
Mike Strange covers University of Tennessee athletics. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http:/blogs.knoxnews.com/Strange.