Phillip Fulmer on Hall of Fame: A million people to say thank-you to

Phillip Fulmer named to College Football Hall of Fame

Phillip Fulmer on plans for the future

As it worked out, Tuesday, a day of celebration, found Phillip Fulmer back where it all started.

On the day he was announced as a first-ballot selection to the College Football Hall of Fame, Fulmer drove home to Winchester to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes dinner.

"Here I am,'' he said, "my first night as a Hall of Famer and I'm back at my roots.''

From his Winchester roots, Fulmer went on to first play football at the University of Tennessee and later to coach his alma mater to one of its winningest eras.

For the latter, he has earned a plaque in college football's highest shrine.

Fulmer was one of three selections in the coaching category announced Tuesday, joined by R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M and Jimmy Johnson, who coached at Oklahoma State and Miami.

Thirteen former players were selected. The induction dinner is Dec. 4 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

"That he was first ballot speaks volumes,'' said John Chavis, Fulmer's defensive coordinator 1995-2008.

Fulmer is the third UT coach selected in the coaching category, joining Robert Neyland and Doug Dickey.

Johnny Majors and Bowden Wyatt, both of whom coached their alma mater, were inducted as players, along with 17 other Vols.

Fulmer served as interim head coach for three games in 1992 then took over full time in 1993.

From ’93 through 2001, Fulmer’s Vols went 91-20, a gaudy .819 winning percentage.

His final seven years were — comparatively — less stellar and Fulmer was forced out in 2008 as the SEC title drought extended to 10 years.

Still, he walked away at 152-52, a .745 winning percentage. (A 1993 tie with Alabama was later recognized as a UT win due to the Crimson Tide using an ineligible player.) Only Neyland won more games at UT.

To be considered for induction, a coach be retired for three years and have a minimum .600 winning percentage during a career of at least 100 games.

Fulmer’s most celebrated season was 1998 when the Vols went 13-0 and won the BCS national championship.

He also won an SEC title in 1997. His teams represented the Eastern Division in the SEC championship game in 2001, 2004 and 2007.

"There's a million people to say thank-you to,'' Fulmer said.

"We had a very, very special time in Tennessee's history and I'm very proud to be a part of it. And I mean that, you're just a part.''

Fulmer played several parts in his UT legacy. He lettered as an offensive lineman 1969-71. He was an assistant coach for the Vols 1980-92.

One of his UT teammates, Bobby Majors — along with Willie Gault and Paul Naumoff — were among 76 players on the 2012 ballot. None were elected.

Chip Kell, another of Fulmer's teammates, was the most recent Vol enshrined, in 2006.

"I had the good fortune to go to New York and see some of my teammates and other coaches I respected get inducted.''

Fulmer's success made him a virtual lock to join those teammates and coaches one day in the Hall of Fame, currently in South Bend, Ind., but slated to move to Atlanta in 2014.

"It certainly wasn't the reason I got into coaching or the reason I enjoyed coaching as much as I did,'' he said.

"You're trying to win the next game. You're never reflecting on those kinds of things.''

He reflected Tuesday, though. Fulmer mentioned the UT administration that gave him a shot, the loyal, long-time assistants like Chavis, David Cutcliffe, Dan Brooks and Steve Caldwell, the behind-the-scenes workhorses like Gary Wyant and Mike Rollo.

And of course, his family and the extended family of Big Orange fans.

"My family sacrificed so much for me to do a profession that was very demanding,'' he said.

"We never looked at it as a job. We looked at it as a lifestyle.''

At 61, Fulmer would prefer his lifestyle to still be coaching — at UT.

"It's very much bittersweet in some ways,'' he said, "but that's for another time. This is a time to celebrate today.''

Chavis, currently defensive coordinator at LSU, is celebrating for his longtime friend.

"Through his leadership, we did it the right way,'' Chavis said.

"As a head coach, he made sure we were there to serve the kids first.

"I don't mean this in a bad way, but it'll be a long, long time, and maybe never, before anybody duplicates what he did at Tennessee.''

Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

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Comments » 29

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Congratulations Coach. This is well deserved.

dj54 writes:

yes well indeed

DalTexVol writes:

Congratulations Coach Fulmer! Looks like you lost some weight too--looking much healthier. Good for you!

Down_The_Field writes:

congrats to coach fulmer.

this is a VOL win.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

A class act and well-deserved! Congratulations!

Vols4life77 writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A story about Fulmer and you still have to bring Dooley in your response. Was a great time for you to acknowledge the coach that you wish were still here and praise this wonderful achievement but once again you showed your classless 3rd grade mentality and brought dooley in it. You are a disgrace to the VOL Nation and it would be a much better place if you had a stroke so you couldn't type your relentless babble. The reason I don't read responses on this site is because I get sick and tired of reading the same dooleave, Doolaid, and every other 3rd grade name calling that you negative VOL losers come up with. How immature for grown men to constantly bash another with silly stupid nicknames. Your wife must be proud of you, or your husband. Either way you make me sick!!!! You a worthless, classless piece of Shi$..

mdboar#214875 writes:

A big congratulations, Coach Fulmer. Happy for you to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

jamalamerican31 writes:

in response to Vols4life77:

A story about Fulmer and you still have to bring Dooley in your response. Was a great time for you to acknowledge the coach that you wish were still here and praise this wonderful achievement but once again you showed your classless 3rd grade mentality and brought dooley in it. You are a disgrace to the VOL Nation and it would be a much better place if you had a stroke so you couldn't type your relentless babble. The reason I don't read responses on this site is because I get sick and tired of reading the same dooleave, Doolaid, and every other 3rd grade name calling that you negative VOL losers come up with. How immature for grown men to constantly bash another with silly stupid nicknames. Your wife must be proud of you, or your husband. Either way you make me sick!!!! You a worthless, classless piece of Shi$..

A-MEN Vols4life77 with your response to the VERY intelligent Sammy_Burklows_Revenge...I just find it fun to read the idiots that think they know anything about collegiant sports. Congrats Fulmer and Thank You Chavis for being a bigger man/woman/person than Sammy_Burklows_Revenge!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Jesus H. on horseback! Come on Moctezuma's Revenge. Can you just once in your worthless life allow them to post one freaking story about something good, that has absolutely nothing to do with Coach Dooley, without coming on here and soiling it with your stupid, petty bullcrapola?

You have got to be the stupidest, most worthless P.O.S. I've ever had the bad fortune to come in contact with in my entire life (even if I am, at least, fortunate that it's only virtual contact).

BTW, D.A., Chavis would say that no matter who was currently the coach, and no matter what their record was. You might also consider this: Chavis was an assistant on Coach Fulmer's staff the entire time he was the head coach, and DC almost the whole time, so some of the credit for Coach Fulmer's success obviously goes to him. I believe it's a genuine complement, but it's also somewhat self-serving.

Theo writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Only you could take a great moment for the Vol Nation and eff it up.
Regardless, congratulations to Coach Fulmer. Well deserved.

traderjoe writes:

Congratulations Coach Fulmer!!!

You gave me, my friends, and tens of thousands of other Vols many wonderful seasons of football. You served the University of Tennessee very well and made us all proud. Savor your accomplishments in your retirement.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Typical Phillip...Gracious and authentic...The exact opposite of Moctezuma's Revenge.

Get a new schtick, and schtick it.

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are the Colonel of the Summers Eve brigade. Richmond. Richmond. Richmond. There, now that you have admitted your problem. STFU

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

He got his job by undermining and backstabbing a Tennessee legend. Celebrate him if you so choose. As for me, the Volunteer in me refuses to glorify deceit.

usafvol writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you really as ignorant and childish as you appear or is it just an act? You seem to be starving for attention an this is your only outlet...

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Vols4life77:

A story about Fulmer and you still have to bring Dooley in your response. Was a great time for you to acknowledge the coach that you wish were still here and praise this wonderful achievement but once again you showed your classless 3rd grade mentality and brought dooley in it. You are a disgrace to the VOL Nation and it would be a much better place if you had a stroke so you couldn't type your relentless babble. The reason I don't read responses on this site is because I get sick and tired of reading the same dooleave, Doolaid, and every other 3rd grade name calling that you negative VOL losers come up with. How immature for grown men to constantly bash another with silly stupid nicknames. Your wife must be proud of you, or your husband. Either way you make me sick!!!! You a worthless, classless piece of Shi$..

I couldn't have said it any better. Thank you.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Sammy_Burklows_Revenge:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sammy, no one is a bigger Fulmer fan than me. I absolutely hate Hamilton for firing him and his subsequent mishandling of finding a replacement. However, as a fan of the Volunteers I have gotten behind Dooley because he has brought integrity back to the university and many other intangibles that weasel boy got rid of in his one short year at the helm.

The least you could do is not bash Dooley as he has been put in an impossible to win situation and at least he has been man enough to take it on. Unlike you, who gets to live behind a screen name, he is living his life in the public and he not only has to deal with morons like you, but all of the boosters and fans who expect 10 wins every year despite the fact that it is impossible given his circumstances.

Lastly, when the winning starts this year, make sure you don't jump on the bandwagon because you are not welcome.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well said. Once again, some lame head decides to believe a lie like it is the truth. Fulmer brought winning to Knoxville, something not seen since the Neyland days, and not seen since.

SCVFL writes:

in response to WaltGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Coach Majors IM0(humble)laid a foundation for Coach Fulmer's success. Both were true VFL's and deserve the credit for their time as Top Vol.
There has never been nor ever will be another VFL as dedicated and loyal to Tennessee as COACH PHILIP FULMER. Hopefully there will be some as great or greater than he, but never will another be as true to the Orange.
Congratulations Coach Phillip Fulmer...you will always be a Tennessee legend. And I for one THANK YOU for the wonderful memories I will always cherish.
Good luck in everything you persue.
GBO...VFL

Rockytopfan96 writes:

He's the BEST of the BEST!

frblalack writes:

Congratulations Coach! You are most deserving!

Great Coach! I remember your playing for Coach Dickey, and you were one fine offensive lineman! If I remember correctly we had Charley Fulton & then the Swamp Rat playing qb, what great times for the Vols! Thanks again Coach for all you've accomplished for the University!

All Vols - All the Time - Vol for Life!

Coach_K writes:

in response to SCVFL:

Coach Majors IM0(humble)laid a foundation for Coach Fulmer's success. Both were true VFL's and deserve the credit for their time as Top Vol.
There has never been nor ever will be another VFL as dedicated and loyal to Tennessee as COACH PHILIP FULMER. Hopefully there will be some as great or greater than he, but never will another be as true to the Orange.
Congratulations Coach Phillip Fulmer...you will always be a Tennessee legend. And I for one THANK YOU for the wonderful memories I will always cherish.
Good luck in everything you persue.
GBO...VFL

My sentiments exactly. GBO!

TheStupidPolice writes:

In August 1995 my son and I were among the first on the street to go to the preseason meal and "Meet the Vols" which was then being held at Thompson Boling Arena. Walking down the hill from Gibbs Dormitory were several players and then, much to my surprise, here comes Coach Fulmer by himself. He stops in the street to wait for some of the players, asks them about how one of the players injured in that days practice was doing. When he gets a bad report from some players, he turns around, walks back to the dorm and checks on the player again. The man truly cared and loved his players. They returned the favor and played hard for him. The HOF is a well deserved honor for a truly great coach who brought lots of honor and glory to the University and lots of good times and great pride to thousands of fans. Thanks for the years of pride and good feelings that I got to enjoy and have reflected pride in, Coach Fulmer.

MitchelCrass writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

He got his job by undermining and backstabbing a Tennessee legend. Celebrate him if you so choose. As for me, the Volunteer in me refuses to glorify deceit.

You've got to be smoking a pipe full of something deadly, the man is as loyal as it gets to UT, you're missing kiffen I guess

Vols4life77 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Sammy, no one is a bigger Fulmer fan than me. I absolutely hate Hamilton for firing him and his subsequent mishandling of finding a replacement. However, as a fan of the Volunteers I have gotten behind Dooley because he has brought integrity back to the university and many other intangibles that weasel boy got rid of in his one short year at the helm.

The least you could do is not bash Dooley as he has been put in an impossible to win situation and at least he has been man enough to take it on. Unlike you, who gets to live behind a screen name, he is living his life in the public and he not only has to deal with morons like you, but all of the boosters and fans who expect 10 wins every year despite the fact that it is impossible given his circumstances.

Lastly, when the winning starts this year, make sure you don't jump on the bandwagon because you are not welcome.

Very nice points SummittsCourt and is a very logical and rational overview of the Dooley tenure. The problem is people like Sammy live in a fantasy land and are clueless and decide to bash the the coach rather than acknowledge the truth. Sammy is the same guy who thinks he should have married the blond haired, blue eyed homecoming queen but ended up with the fat chick and doesn't know why. It's sad, really sad to be that pathetic.

Jaywine writes:

The master of the Mustang defense, and still get in the HOF?

TNFishingReport_com writes:

Congratulations Coach, well deserved

goldengate writes:

in response to Jaywine:

The master of the Mustang defense, and still get in the HOF?

Well, you're the master (or is that mastur) of bating and you got your post published on GVX.

Besides, idiot, the Mustang was Chavis' baby.

WaVol writes:

Very Very well deserved, Congratulations coach Fulmer.

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