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Ah, the good old days.
Many of Fulmer's players from the '97 team, including quarterback Peyton Manning, surrounded him when he was introduced pregame on the field. Highlights from the '97 season were shown on the JumboTron.
Fans roared with approval during the presentation.
"It was a great night," Fulmer said as he walked off the field. "We enjoyed (Friday) night with the '97 team, and today's been a thrill. It is absolutely fantastic."
Manning was able to sum up the moment in a few words.
"It was great," Manning said as security guards and police swept him away.
Other former players from the '97 team were more than glad to talk about Fulmer, who was presented a plaque for his upcoming induction into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame during the pregame ceremony.
"Very well deserving," said Jeff Hall, place-kicker from 1995-98. "All of us here know he should still be coaching right now, and we know we'd be winning, and we know that the tradition would continue, and the tradition is going to continue. It's going to.
"It's nice to be around (Fulmer). Of course, it would be nicer if he was on the sidelines, I think, but things change, and he is well deserving of this award, and we're just all proud of him."
Fulmer, born in Winchester, Tenn., played offensive guard for the Vols (1968-71) and was a coach for the Vols from 1980-2008. He took over as head coach during the 1992 season and remained in that position until he was fired late in the 2008 season.
It was a move that stung many of Fulmer's players and his supporting fans.
"He deserves this and so much more," said Bill Duff, defensive tackle on the '97 team. "In my opinion, he never deserved to be fired, and I think a lot of people feel that way about his situation. Of course, I was a Fulmer guy, so Coach Fulmer to me is why Tennessee was as successful as they were, and we really need to get back to have that kind of program."
Duff was a member of the 1995 team that started a streak of seven consecutive victories against Alabama.
UT beat the Tide 41-14 in Birmingham in 1995, and the next year the Vols got some bulletin board material that would remain for years.
"Bama was our first hurdle, and I remember beating Alabama down there (in '95)," Duff said, "and I remember Alabama coming back to us, and then we heard their players walked the field and their players said, 'We need to make this our home field again.'
"It was that moment in my mind as a Tennessee football player that it could not be allowed. We echoed that in the locker room. Everyone heard it for the next six years, and from that point on, we beat their butts."
UT beat Alabama 20-13 in Neyland Stadium in 1996, and didn't lose to the Tide again until 2002.
It was a memorable run for the Vols.
"It's big, but a lot of Bama fans, they don't see that," said Eric Westmoreland, linebacker for the Vols (1996-2000). "All they're seeing is the last couple of years, but those stretches of years were great because we were on top. We had the quality wins, the quality performances, so that's big in our minds for what's going on today."
The '97 Vols beat the Tide 38-21 in Birmingham on their way to a 10-1 regular season and SEC title (7-1).
UT defeated Auburn 30-29 in the '97 SEC Championship game before losing to Nebraska 42-17 in the Orange Bowl.
The Vols bounced back from that loss and won the 1998 SEC title and national championship.
"The whole time I was here we had an incredible amount of chemistry and great leadership," Hall said, "and those are a couple of ingredients you've got to have to have a national championship team or an SEC championship team or any kind of championship team. You've got to have chemistry, you've got to have leadership, and we were great because we had those two things the whole time I was here, and especially in '97 and '98."
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.